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'The most stressful year of my career': Survey shows skyrocketing teacher stress in the Valley

A newly released teacher questionnaire found an overwhelming 96% of Maricopa County teachers who responded, are stressed.

PHOENIX — Maricopa County leaders asked and teachers answered. In an overwhelming response following a recent survey, the county found the majority of our Valley educators are stressed in the classroom.

Steve Watson, Maricopa County Regional School District superintendent, said the new survey is eye-opening. Watson said he’s taking the survey results back to districts and school leaders with the goal of reducing the stress local teachers are under.

“We knew the stress was there, but it was just a little bit surprising to see some numbers associated with that," Watson said. "To see teachers in a large number talk about the anxiety and the stresses they’re feeling.”

Watson said he sent the survey to about 35,000 teachers in October and November. Nearly 2,500 shared their insight. The survey reported 96% of teachers said they feel stressed at work.

“We have never experienced a stress like this, the challenges, the anxiety that teachers are experiencing," Watson said. The survey also found the highest levels of severe and extreme teacher stress since 2019. 

Fourth-grade teacher Angela Valencia has worked through and continues to push through many of these challenges.

“This has probably been one of the most stressful school years as far as the workload," Valencia said. "Because we’re still dealing with COVID precautions and dealing with students being out and quarantined and gone.”

Valencia is not alone. Annie Rogers, another Valley educator said she's experiencing much of the same. 

“This year being year 29 for me, was the most stressful year of my career," Rogers said. "A lot of challenges, but it also was very energizing to overcome those challenges.”

Watson said he’s sharing the survey data with districts to find ways to lessen the strain on Valley classrooms.

“If you’re scheduled to implement new programs, now might be a good time to put that off. To wait a little bit," Watson said. “We don’t have to fit three years of academic learning into one year so let’s take a more measured approach. Let’s not stress out our teachers. Let’s not stress out our students.”

The survey also questioned which symptoms teachers are feeling, like anxiety and how school and district leadership mitigates their stresses.

Watson said the survey is still open. He also encouraged teachers to have discussions with their administrators about the positives and challenges they’re facing, so they can help come up with solutions and support systems.

And for parents at home, Watson asked for them to keep conversations going with their teachers. He encouraged parents to offer to volunteer when available and continue to have patience as teachers are still navigating educating in a pandemic.

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