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Reading the news across sectors in our country paints a bleak picture about employees. They are just not in the workforce in the numbers that we need. This is hitting education too. And that's scary. If you've not thought about this, take a minute. Not only are there not HIGH quality teachers available, there just aren't enough teachers available.
In my principal groups online, it's a recurring topic. "What do we do?" "I'm short 3 teachers, a counselor, a secretary, and a custodian." "Are there literally NO math teachers anywhere?" It's every day. This is still July. For us in Maryland, we still have a month to hire. Each year it's becoming harder and harder to find teachers. That's a really, really big problem.
It trickles down in so many ways....
- Instructional quality will suffer
- Teacher workload is impacted
- School quality suffers
- Student achievement suffers
- Family satisfaction with schools suffers
- Schools can't offer quality academic and extracurricular programming
To be redundant, the most important problem is that our students aren't seated in front of highly capable educators if we can't hire teachers.
The impact of a strong teacher is well researched and can't be overstated. The impact of a weak teachers is also well known.
We've known this was coming. We've talked about it for years as we watched it begin, then grow, and now... it's seriously at an epidemic level. But what are we doing about it? The workload hasn't changed and is nearly impossible (ok, totally impossible). The profession is disrespected constantly. New teachers are thrown into the deep end. Teacher stress levels are through the roof.
A conversation has to be started to address this. But beyond that, we MUST take action.
- If you know/your child has a high quality teacher, do everything in your power to support them, advocate for them, recognize the gift they are to your family and society.
- Look into the data in your local area. What's the turn over? What are the concerns of the teachers? What's their day look like--- how many non instructional duties do they have, when do they plan/grade/collaborate with colleagues?
- Have a conversation with your school leadership team and ask how you can help support teacher recruitment and retention.
A more painful question is "would you recommend a high school graduate or a family member to go into education?" If the answer is no, we have to have deeper conversations to address these root causes. Or else, who will be in our classrooms.
Take a minute and add this to your really important to keep in mind list. Without high quality teachers in our classrooms, our country will suffer rapidly. Our kids deserve better.
Passionate about ALL things education. Focused on school improvement and leadership development. With 20 years experience, over a decade as a school principal, and also a Senior Adjunct Professor at a School of Education, I am committed to supporting schools, school leaders, innovation, and growth that enhances the educational experiences provided to students and families.