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October 1, 2022
Vol. 80
No. 2
Relevant Read

Is It Burnout—or a Question of Ethics?

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    School Culture
    Book cover for Demoralized: Why Teachers Leave the Profession They Love and How They Can Stay
      Demoralized: Why Teachers Leave the Profession They Love and How They Can Stay by Doris Santoro (Harvard Education Press)
      As discussion grows around teacher attrition and burnout, Doris Santoro's 2018 book Demoralized: Why Teachers Leave the Profession They Love and How They Can Stay (Harvard Education Press) feels even more relevant than when it was published pre-pandemic. Santoro explores what happens when teachers face a professional ethics dilemma—when they suddenly feel like the job they love is one they can't do anymore, or can't do well, because of policy, procedures, leadership decisions, or other factors beyond their control. This state of demoralization is often misidentified as burnout, Santoro argues, which "leads to ineffective remedies to address it."
      Santoro says this dilemma can happen to all kinds of teachers, new and veteran, in all types of schools. The book features interviews and testimonials from many teachers describing their experiences of demoralization and the ways their dissatisfaction, anxiety, and guilt manifested itself physically and emotionally.
      Self-care strategies—usually the solution for burnout—won't help "re-moralize" teachers, Santoro says, but teachers and leaders can still take action. The book offers detailed examples of ways teachers can turn things around (such as using their voice or finding a professional community) and ways leaders can support these teachers (such as listening and responding to moral concerns). While demoralization is serious, it's fixable. This book can help forge a new path.

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      See Doris Santoro's Summer 2018 Educational Leadership article, "Is It Burnout? Or Demoralization?," for more on this topic.

      Tara Laskowski is senior editor for Educational Leadership.

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