As the 2019-2020 school year commences, media outlets are reporting about the shortage of certified teachers while classrooms are filled with long term substitutes. Districts and Politicians are looking for solutions. Problems like this don’t have quick and easy fixes, too many components to the shortage: Pay, Workload, Flexibility, Respect and Job Growth to name a few. A person with the right skill set to be an educator can easily find a high paying, more flexible and respected job in the current market.
To be a successful teacher one has to have many skills: presentation, technology use, communication, organization, personnel management, data analysis and reporting all come to mind. Having a skill set that includes all of these would make an individual very marketable for careers in most fields. Most fields can offer quicker job satisfaction than education.
A friend recently left the education field to find more career satisfaction. He is becoming a truck driver. When I asked why he shared this information:
Student truck drivers earn $41,000 a year on average. CDL truck drivers can expect to earn $66,000 a year on average. OTR CDL truck drivers earn the most, with salaries averaging $82,000 a year. Team truck drivers earn an average of $71,000 each per year. https://www.truckdriverssalary.com/how-much-can-you-earn-your-1st-year-as-a-trucker/
He went on to share: “I will work less hours and won’t have my work life mixing with my home life. I want less stress and more time for my family” It made sense for him not to teach. How can we fix this?
Most people who go into education do it for the love of learning and youth. I previously blogged my WHY.
Society needs to make the profession attractive again.
First stop all the myths about it being a part-time job for full time pay. Do we say this about actors, athletes or any other profession that doesn’t work 40 hours a week 50 weeks a year, nope so why do we do it to teachers?
Second: Remember that it is a profession, not a job. Treat teacher like the professionals they are. Professions are respected not treated like babysitters. Ever since the saying “Those that can do, those that can’t teach” surfaced teachers have been under attack. Time rephrase it to “Those that can do so due to teachers.”
Third: Flexibility needs to built in to profession. Right now summers is the only flexible time for teachers. But on every school day teachers have to show up, this makes it hard for people who love their own kids. Many teachers use up sick days to go on field trips and spend time with their own kids or even go for doctor’s visits and the dentist office. With the rise of flex time in every other career but education no wonder many are flocking towards the door.
Fourth: Refocus education away from test scores towards quality of life and growth. Test score focus is forcing many educators to leave. Student scores focus on students individual mindset and social-economic backgrounds. Rating teachers on student scores changes the role of teachers, teachers now feel they are motivators in chief versus educators.
Fifth: Pay! A respected profession is paid well. We pay for what we value. Sadly Instagram promoters and Fortnite players can quickly make more than educators. The pay has to be competitive for educational level. Teachers currently make 17% less than those with similar educational levels. We need people in all careers but the most important one is education, but is society showing that educators are valuable with current pay and school funding?
I love being an educator. There is no greater joy that helping students have Ah-Ha moments or seeing them grow from beginners to experts in a skill.
“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.” Desmond Tutu
Hopefully the profession can be built back up so more can discover the joys of being an educator!
When asked by a new teacher about how to teach, the first thing that comes to mind are the teaching similes: Teach like a …Pirate, Champion, Boss etc. They are catchy and have been used by authors to hook people into reading their books. These books are good reads full of reminders of what great teachers do. Each author takes a different angle highlighting what they found to be meaningful to them as a teacher. I have enjoyed reading many of these books learning many new ideas. These similes help catch the essence of teaching, but what happened to teaching like a TEACHER? (maybe it doesn’t sell books)
Sure the quick comparisons are great but lets really think about them:
Pirates sail around to their own tune with no loyalties, robbing others for their own good. Teachers have to be loyal to their students and districts.
Champions are the best, better than the rest. Accomplished for self/team winning metals by defeating others. Teachers have to work as a part of a large team and collaborate with those on all other teams for the good of all students not just theirs.
Bosses are in charge of every aspect of their company ordering employees to do their will. Teachers know that many aspects of their job is out of their control and work hard to guide students to where they want to go in their learning.
I could go on to all the other “Teach like a” smiles I have found as book or blog titles. (Even teach like a cat?) Teaching is a very diverse and complex job. Teachers need to explore the many ways/ styles of teaching, finding what works for THEM and their STUDENTS. While books are full of incredible ideas it is important to find methods that work for you.
In my experience I have just kept evolving. As I watch and talk to more teachers, I pick up tips and tricks of the trades. Occasionally I am reminded of methods I used to use but moved away from due to my students population but might work for the new students in my class this year. Educators have to remember that judging others from what we hear or passively observe in their teaching style is dangerous. I have observed many teachers instructing in ways I would not teach but it was working for them. I wouldn’t expect teachers to copy my methods. Good teachers have their own unique style.
Teach like a teacher owning your methods.
I noticed a conversation today on twitter around #Clearthelist. Apparently Courtney Jones started a movement about a month ago on social media to help support teachers called Support A Teacher , where teachers can share their Amazon (or other) wish lists in hopes of having them filled by generous donors. Sounds cool!! Until you really think about it. Why do teachers need to post wish lists? Don’t taxes fund schools? Yes taxes fund schools but right not it is hard for schools to keep up with the ever growing needs of their student bodies. With the costs of salaries, building maintenance, transportation and curriculum needs, classroom supplies often get short changed. Teachers often dig into their own pockets to make sure classes have all the supplies needed. On average teachers spend over $500 out of their own salary to equip their classrooms. Teachers that want to try more hands or engaging activities often spend more or end up asking their students for supplies.
Crowd funding for classrooms is nothing new, Donors Choose has been around for awhile. Crowd funding seems to be popular thing in the internet era. From medical costs to new product development to films crowd funding is happening. Now it is building steam in education. For me it brings to question Equity! Teachers that are more connected to resources will ultimately have more donors. Think about it, a teacher in a poorer community will not have parents who can afford to reach into their pockets for more, since they are struggling just to get by. Teachers in wealthier districts will have parents that are eager to donate, many of them already are via class supply lists. Social media will help equalize a bit allowing teachers to reach out of their local community but is this really equitable? How many items are needs vs wants or wishes? Then I worry about teachers who create list but nothing is purchased, how will they feel? Is this just luck of the draw?
I want to thank everyone for wanting to help teachers. Here is my wish list. The basic needs are on my listed, I added a few reach desires as I plan on teaching coding with drones and could always use more tools to reach more students. But after helping a teacher by sending supplies, it is time to help schools get funding for these supplies by voting.
Teachers shouldn’t have to beg for pencils, folders, or books for their students. It is time to fund school adequately.