Schools are seeing teachers leave the profession in record numbers. When teachers are sick districts struggle to find guest teachers to cover all of the classes. Many states feel that they way to address the shortage of teachers in the classroom is to hire non-certified teachers. This will not solve the problem, it will only continue to devalue our trained educators and destroy our education system.
To address the shortages the issue needs to be examined by comparing teaching to other jobs that require similar educational backgrounds and skills. The once rigid corporate structures in the business world have transformed to more relaxed corporate culture. Perspective teachers notice that schools have not kept pace with the transformations that have occurred in the business world around them.
Here are a few items that teachers notice which others might take for granted.
- It is a 9-4 world: Most appointments for doctors, dentists, banks, or anything really occur during the regular school day. Teachers have to take time off work to make any of them. Other professionals flex their schedule to go to these important meetings. In most cases it requires 1/2 day off for teachers to attend.
- GO at Lunch is not an option: Teachers usually have around 30 minutes for lunch. Not time to do much but for teachers it is packed with phone calls, helping students and trying to get a bite. Other professions just take an extended lunch.
- Bathroom Breaks: Teachers have to schedule bathroom visits to fit their class schedule, many times going 3 hours holding it. Lunch and prep time are greatly valued just to get to the bathroom.
- Meetings: Most employees expect meetings during their work day. In educations most staff and committee meeting are help before or after work. Teachers aren’t typically paid extra to attend. In other professions these meeting ONLY occur during the work day. Many of these professions also celebrate their successes during their work hours as well, going on corporate outings etc. Again in education this doesn’t happen.
- Being accountable for time off: It takes teachers up to an hour to get ready for a day off. Creating lesson plans and getting supplies ready. Most jobs, a day off is a causal phone call and no more thought. Teachers usually come to work sick because the plan for the day requires them.
- Changing on the fly: Most jobs have a regular pattern and plan. If something is changing plenty of notice is given. In schools the days plan can change in a moments notice. On the day you have a technology infuse lesson the internet goes down. In other jobs this is frustrating but employees often go home to wait for the system to get back online. Teachers still have their class to lead in a lesson.
- Constant scrutiny: Beside politicians, what other profession is under more scrutiny? Teachers here the constant bashing our profession takes in the media and by the water cooler. Who wants all this blame?
- Attend children’s school functions: Teachers value education but so often they miss their own child’s milestones. Most celebrations overlap and occur at beginning and end of year when teachers are limited in ability to be absence for personal business. Other professions flex their work schedule to make it fit.
Educators are asked to be flexible to make learning happen for their students. Their work environment needs to catch up and be just as flexible. Can education become a more desired career if it can be more flexible?
To some these observations may seem petty or part of the JOB! But when the Profession is finding it hard to attract the brightest and best it might be time to look at how it compares to other fields.
Teachers teach because it is their calling! Many are being called but not picking up the phone! It is time to raise our profession!