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!