Fears ‘TeacherQuitTok’ social media trend ‘warping perception’ of profession for young teachers

This is a classic case of blame the messenger. If they want to stop teachers talking about quitting, they have to deal with the problems behind the dissatisfaction. And Leftst limits on what teachers can do to maintain order in the classroom are the biggest problem. There should be high-discipline schools for unruly pupils

Australian teachers are being inundated with videos of burnt-out peers breaking down as hashtags like ‘TeacherQuitTok’ go viral on social media, prompting fears the negative reinforcement could be pushing young educators out the door.

There have been nearly 17,000 contributions to the ‘TeacherQuitTok’ tag on TikTok, racking up four million views on the single most watched video, while similar tags like ‘TeacherBurnout’ have 12,000 posts under them.

In clips with thousands of likes, young Australian ex-teachers cited the “never-ending” juggle of different needs among their 30-student classrooms, including pupils with behavioural issues, and “lack of respect” from higher-ups and the general public as reasons to quit.

“Being a teacher is really emotionally draining,” a former Brisbane teacher said.

“You’re constantly juggling and being responsible for all these different personalities and different situations, and it’s relentless, it’s never-ending.”

“The access to you 24/7 (from parents) … sometimes it’s a lot,” another added.

Other popular videos under hashtags like ‘TeacherBurnout’ and ‘HowToQuitTeaching’ are even more extreme, with teachers in the US and UK filming themselves having emotional breakdowns in the break rooms and crying in their classrooms.

University of Newcastle Associate Professor Rachel Buchanan has been researching the rise of ‘QuitTok’, which predates the more recent, niche version of the trend for teachers, and is concerned about the impact of such videos flooding educators’ social media feeds.

Although social media allows educators who are feeling “powerless and unheard” to have a voice, Professor Buchanan said, the echo-chamber effect can also “normalise quitting”, especially for young teachers lacking support and mentorship.

“On TikTok it feels inescapable that everyone’s quitting, and everyone’s burnt out … and it can warp your perception of what’s really happening,” she said.

“#TeacherQuitTok also reinforces and validates the decision to leave the profession – hearing others’ stories and joining in feels like participation in a movement or a moment.”

Sydney-based after-school care manager Teneal Broccardo knows first-hand how damaging the exposure to the constant negativity can be, citing the viral content with making her reconsider training to be a primary school teacher.

“There’s this massive trend about how stressful is, and when I was studying I found it really disheartening,” she said.

“I saw all these people working themselves to the ground and I thought, do I want to do this to myself too?”

Already having experience working with children and with classroom management alleviated her fears, the 29-year-old said, but for others she imagined “it could be the last straw”.

“TikTok is very influential. If you’re seeing more positive things instead, like teachers decorating the classroom or explaining different techniques they use, you are going to be more motivated.”

A 2022 Monash University study found only three in every 10 teachers surveyed on staying in the profession for the long-term, and their concerns are regularly reflected in ‘TeacherQuitTok’ content, lead author Dr Fiona Longmuir said.

“It’s the conditions that are making it challenging (to stay) more so than what they’re seeing on social media,” she said.

“There’s a big public discourse saying that teaching is tough, but that’s because it is tough.

“We don’t have a teacher shortage in Australia, but we do have a shortage of teachers who want to work in our classrooms.”

NSW Education Minister Prue Car said a pay rise, more permanent contracts and ban on mobile phones are among the ways the state is trying to “turn the tide on the teacher shortage”.

“Teachers do an incredibly important job in our community and they should be proud of their work. They deserve to be respected and valued,” she said.

“We are starting to see positive signs in terms of teacher vacancies, but we know there is more to do and we continue to look at ways to reduce workload and restore morale.”


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