“Everyone who remembers their own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.”
A teacher (also called a school teacher or, in some contexts, an educator) is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.
Are we really facing a teacher shortage?
According to a study done by the Economic Policy Institute the answer is not only yes, but it is large and growing.
This was the teacher shortage and projections we were looking at in the 2013-2014 school year.
The definition of a teacher shortage can be a little tricky. It is a two fold problem. The first aspect of the issue is, do you have enough teachers to fill the classes? Meaning if you are short people do you have to shrink the classes that are offered or increase the amount of students allowed into each class.
The second aspect is that having enough people to staff the classes does not mean they are necessarily qualified to teach the class. An example would be a physical education teacher standing in for a calculus teacher. Perhaps they have some experience, however it is not the area of specialty they excel at. In these circumstances there may not be a shortage of manpower, but of skill sets.
No matter the shortage, either people or knowledge, it is our children that suffer.
The New Lack Of Interest And Devastating Dropout Rates
Why Are We Facing A Teacher Shortage?
There are dramatic problems in our current system of education. What circumstances can exist that would push an exceptional teacher to leave a job they spent tens of thousands of dollars and years of their lives in education to achieve?
The Education Involved
The road to teaching is not a straight and narrow path as in other professions.
States have their own particular requirements. An example of this may be a fully certified teacher in Wyoming, will not be able to teach in Colorado. They will need to do additional training and classes to teach in the specified state.
Is this beneficial or does it add to the difficulties in getting qualified teachers?
Setting a standard system of certification could help with the ability of teachers to move from state to state as needed or as financial intensives allow.
A Lack Of Respect
The current lack of respect for the authority of teachers is at an all time low. What may surprise you is the lack of respect does not come completely from the students. Along with the students, much of the lack of respect comes from the school administrations and the parents of the students. With the lack of respect, daunting responsibilities and a teachers inability to do anything about it, the problem is only growing.
To put this into context. You have started a job, your boss expects you to reach an extremely difficult goal. There is very little in the way of a network to rely on, so you have only your freshly learned skills and your determination to accomplish this goal. You are given a group 150-180 employees that are indifferent to your success or failure. In fact the majority of this group of employees will attempt to do as little work for success as they possibly can.
With this knowledge you have absolutely no real authority over these employees. You are unable to punish any willful lack of effort or indifference to your directions. If you criticize your employee’s to do better work or push them to be better, you may be the one punished by management. In addition your employees parents will get involved and tell you and your boss that the employee is indeed working hard enough and that you are at fault. Your employees know this and use it to their advantage.
If you are having serious enough employee troubles your only recourse is to send them to Human Resources (Front Office) and they will decide any possible punishment. However more times than not Human Resources gives little to no punishment, and in turn visits with you on what you need to do better.
According to a study at the Learning Policy Institute, up to 30% of new teachers will give up and decide to leave teaching in the first 5 years. This is in conjunction with teacher enrollment programs dropping enrollment by 35%. And of those enrolled in teaching programs, graduates have dropped by an additional 23%.
According to a paper published by Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) 46% of teachers report high daily stress during the school year. *That’s tied with nurses for the highest rate among all occupational groups.
Teachers are put into a system with minimal support, a high standard of achievement expectations, an iron clad curriculum, and a lack of resources.
Our teachers are faced with growing class sizes and an inability to enforce classroom behavior. They are surrounded by 30 or more students, some of which have behavioral issues, some have no interest in learning, and some simply do not prepare. All of this takes away from the students that do want to learn and the students who are quietly falling behind.
Some of the highest stress causing issues to current teachers.
- Hostility towards the teacher
- Inattention during class
- Lack of effort in class
- Unpreparedness for class
- Disregard for school rules
- Damage to school property
- Hostility toward other students
- Lack of interest in learning
Teachers will earn on average almost 20% LESS than a similarly educated person in another industry.
Teachers will also on average spend $500.00 in out of pocket expenses per year in support of their teaching. They may also be asked to perform additional duties not covered in paid compensation, such as parent conferences, hallway duty, cafeteria supervision, bus monitoring, etc.
As A Parent, What Can We Do To Help?
Let your child’s teacher know that you are there to help
- Get involved in your child’s education. Human nature tells us that a person will attempt to shift blame from themselves to others. Our children are no different, they will often blame a teacher for their own shortcomings or lack of effort.
- Get to know your teacher and ask how you can help them in your child’s development. Teachers have 25-30 students per class, with a 6 class day that is 150-180 students to track on a daily basis. Any help you can give them will help in your child’s development.
- Understand that teachers are people to. They work in a highly stressful job environment and have little in the way of a support network.
- Listen to the advice a teacher may give and work with your child to accomplish those goals.
- Do not simply blame the teacher for your child not getting a grade you feel your child deserves. If you feel that there is an error, ask for an explanation. Work with your child to resolve any issue in work ethic or needed skills. THIS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A PARENT
- Understanding that your child may have the issues that the teachers are talking about.
- Volunteer to work with your child’s school to help out in ways they may need.
Why Do They Do It?
With knowing all this, why would people want to go into and career in education?
To Make A Difference
No matter the difficulties, there are always those willing to make a difference.
Many time those that look at being a teacher have had their life influenced in a major way by a teacher. They have seen the difference a single person can make in a child’s life and want to pay it forward. They want to inspire and encourage the youth to be better, perhaps even better than the child believes they can be.
Working With Children
Children are a third of our population, and our most important resource
Working with children, although frustrating at times, can bring a sense of purpose to one’s life that few other occupations can offer. You will watch them grow and become the leaders of tomorrow. And perhaps because of a teacher, they will be inspired to make their own difference in the world.
If you may be interested in working as a teacher and changing the current issues, here is a great resource to get started.