Can Evidence-Based Chatbots Prevent Educator Burnout?

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Burnout: It’s a single word but a constant theme in my conversations with educators who, this year more than any other, are feeling overwhelmed by the increasing workloads and incessant stress associated with the pandemic.

A Rand Corporation poll confirms this trend. In 2021, one in four teachers he said they will likely quit their jobs within a year, compared to one in six before the pandemic. But teachers aren’t the only ones feeling stressed. Another survey found that three-quarters of superintendents considered to resign in the 2020/2021 school year.

How can we lighten the load on our teachers and school leaders?

To combat burnout related to pandemic enforcement, the Rand survey suggests that districts “hire additional staff and implement more communication mechanisms.” For most districts, it is simply not possible to hire enough staff to support the thousands of families in their schools shortage of school staff exacerbated by the pandemic. In this case, we need to look at our “communication mechanisms” for innovation.

Save staff time with a behaviorally intelligent chatbot

In K-12 education, smart behavioral chatbots are emerging as a key tool for improving how school districts support and communicate with families on a large scale. These new technologies combine evidence base with automated messaging, often via text message, and personalized information to answer questions in real time.

To build their knowledge base, chatbots must first be connected to the necessary data sources, such as a school’s information system, then, thanks to machine learning, they become smarter over time. As a result, chatbots can greatly increase a school team’s ability to handle the large volume of communications that must occur every day.

Rather than asking chronically overworked staff to message families and students, schools can implement a chatbot that can answer parental questions immediately and even empathically. Anything that the chatbot cannot respond to is forwarded to an appropriate staff member.

When New York’s Massena Central School District launched a chatbot last year, they decided to call it Raider, in honor of their mascot. Introducing him to their community as a “Siri” for school, they started using their chatbot to send positive and affirmative messages and important information when the pandemic forced them to switch to distance learning. For example, they used Raider to ask families if they needed support and to let them know that school lunches and breakfasts were free for pickup or delivery.

“When I asked the parents what they thought of Raider, they said it seemed odd at first to talk to the school on a chatbot, but they really liked the fact that he was available 24/7 to answer questions. their questions “, says Kristin Colarusso-Martin, Director of the Community Schools. “Soon, we had parents and other family members asking if they could be added to the chatbot. From a district perspective, we recognize the time and cost savings in parental phone calls and emails that would normally be handled by office staff. “

Within weeks of Raider’s introduction, Massena’s Central School District sent 13,105 texts to parents and students. This saved 328 staff hours and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars that would have been spent on hiring additional staff. Now that schools have returned to on-campus education, the chatbot is driving parent and student engagement initiatives, one conversation at a time, allowing staff to turn their attention to other support-focused activities.


A view of Raider’s impact by the numbers (Credit: AllHere)

An empathic and supportive consultant when families need it most

Imagine if each student’s family had a personal advisor to guide them – someone who knows the answers to all common questions, speaks multiple languages, and answers questions right away, even at night or on weekends. With recent technological advances, a behaviorally intelligent chatbot makes this support possible for every single family in a district.

Obviously, a chatbot won’t know all the answers. Many situations require the deeper involvement that only a staff member can provide. But in most cases, a chatbot can:

  • Improve student attendance by sending automatic messages to parents when their child is out of school.
  • Push families with timely, personalized reminders to complete important documents.
  • Help families navigate questions about COVID-19 protocols and vaccine requirements.
  • Check mental well-being and highlight health resources.
  • Troubleshoot and answer common IT-related questions.
  • Offer timely support to families who speak English as a second language.
  • Help families navigate new schedules and calendar updates.
  • Send out surveys to capture parental sentiment and gather feedback from the community.

Such common tasks, while absolutely necessary, take away valuable time from school staff. While a chatbot only saves 60 minutes a week that would otherwise be spent returning messages and leaving voicemails, that’s a full hour that can now be spent on a student in need or an educator’s self-care.


A friendly reminder to parents about safety precautions in the event of a pandemic (Credit: AllHere)

Lighten the burden of teachers and school staff

Most educators will tell you that, even before 2020, there weren’t enough hours in the day to get their work done. Now, three-quarters of the National Board’s certified teachers relationship working more hours since the start of the pandemic. This is a direct path to burnout.

To keep educators, we need to allow them to focus on what they do best. We need to take a realistic look at the tasks that steal their time and ultimately their desire to stay in the profession.

Advances in technology have changed the family’s expectations of where and how quickly communication takes place. Equipped with the right tools, school staff can meet these new expectations and at the same time be relieved of a workload that continually threatens to overwhelm.

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