10 Things That Need to Change If We Want to Keep Teachers in Our Schools


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1. Support From Parents and Admin

As a teacher, sometimes you feel like you’re on an island all by yourself. Sometimes that island is very lonely and also surrounded by sharks. Teaching is hard enough as it is, but feeling like you’re doing it all on your own can be downright daunting. It doesn’t take much to feel supported either. A parent that works with you to curb their child’s behavior, or administration making sure you have what you need can go a long way in getting rescued from that island.

2. Time to actually teach

Time is something teachers don’t have a lot of during the day. I can’t think of one teacher that sits there and says to themselves, “You know what, I can’t wait for this upcoming year. That standardized testing is just going to make this whole year worth it!

I understand that the “powers that be” need some type of number to put in front of themselves to make them feel good about sitting in their big office, full of office supplies someone else bought, and never coming by a classroom to see that those numbers are actual faces. They are real students with real-life things going on. They are not a number and they sure are nowhere near standard. They are unique, creative, powerful, broken, hungry, happy, and tested excessively.

These tests take a whole lot of time from the students and teachers both. The test itself takes days, even weeks, from the students. It takes time that they could be exploring, creating, or inventing instead of making their marks heavy and dark. The teachers have to pre-scan, pre-read instructions, pass out the tests, reread the instructions, sit quietly as they stare at the wall, take them up, file them correctly, etc. The time spent on reviews, emails and testing meetings takes away from all the other million things we would rather be doing for our students. Time is precious and shouldn’t be spent sharpening enough pencils to get your students through the next 6 hours of testing.

3. Parental involvement

Hey, we get it… parents are busy too. Most of us are parents so we understand the struggle of keeping up with how our kids are doing in school. But could you maybe just answer the phone when we call? Here’s a friendly tip to keep in mind: If we’re halfway through the school year and you have no idea what your child’s grades are… you might want to investigate that.

Check out this popular article on parental involvement: Education is a Team Effort Between Both Parents & Teachers.

4. Stability

Being a teacher is hard enough as it is. It’s even more difficult when we don’t know what’s happening year to year or sometimes even week to week. Drastic budget changes can leave some teachers out of work, and drastic curriculum changes can leave teachers going out of their minds. Imagine spending an entire year working on understanding what to teach and how to teach it… then having to learn something brand new the next year!

5. Smaller Class Sizes

Research shows tremendous benefits to small classes. Don’t just take our word for it – the vast majority of research shows that students perform better in all subjects, at all levels, in smaller classes. Furthermore, the research points to other benefits of smaller class sizes besides those listed here, including long-term performance benefits and greater teacher retention.

With so much evidence in favor of small class sizes, don’t we owe it to students and teachers to make sure education occurs in the more constructive environment that smaller classes allow for? For better academic results, happier teachers, and ultimately a more educated society, promoting smaller classes should be a priority for teachers, parents, districts, and government officials.

Not convinced yet? Check out this article on 10 Reasons Why Smaller Class Size Is So Important in Education,

6. A Decent Pay That Doesn’t Push Teachers to Get 2nd Jobs

Teachers are putting in well over 2,000 hours a year, depending on their situation. How does that measure up with other professions? Well, according to the Pew Research Center, the average American only works about 1,811 hours a year. Factor in the thousands of teachers that need to take on a 2nd or 3rd job just to pay the bills and the number of hours teachers work throughout the year is off the charts. It’s a staggering mathematical exercise and one that doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon. At the end of the day, teachers are overworked and underpaid, and this is not how we want to treat the people in charge of our kids’ education.

7. Counselors on Site

According to Johns Hopkins Health Review, the odds of teenagers suffering from depression grew an astonishing 37 percent from 2005 to 2014. It’s estimated that three million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 have had a major depressive episode in the past year alone. The chances are high that at least one of those kids is in your class.

So how do these alarming statistics affect us as teachers? How do we, as educators, support these students who either turn to us in times of need or demonstrate tell-tale signs that something about their emotional health is very off? As the number of students with mental health issues continues to rise, teachers need to be more equipped with tools on how to handle those in need. Teaching the curriculum? Easy. Confidentially aiding a student who is experiencing suicidal ideations? Not so easy.

8. Recognition

Teachers don’t need statues built in their honor or parades trumpeting their greatness in the town square, but it would be nice for someone to occasionally tell us that we’re good at our jobs. Really, it could come from anyone: parents, administrators… we’re not picky. We don’t even need gift cards or swag as tokens of recognition (although we do love them very much). Honestly, at this point, we’d take a high-five and a pat on the back, or at least just stop trying to tell us how to do our jobs.

9. Adequate facilities

Teachers are very good at maximizing their resources. That’s mostly because we’re used to not having any. We’ve all become MacGuyvers, solving riddles like “How can we fit 25 students in a room that really should be a custodian’s supply closet?” Some teachers literally don’t have enough desks, enough textbooks, enough classroom supplies, unless they’re coming out of the teachers’ pockets! Some have classrooms with no windows, no air or heat (or a way to regulate either), paper-thin walls, or worse. The list of poor teaching/learning conditions could go on and on.

10. Respect

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Is something that escapes me

Wait, is that not how the song goes? 

Teachers as a profession have gone from being revered members of society to being seen as whiny babysitters. What happened? What happened to parents taking our word over their child’s? What happened to school districts realizing they need to treat their employees better? What happened to society realizing that our job is pretty darn important? Teachers don’t need the red carpet rolled out in front of us everywhere we go, and we don’t need people bowing before us. All we need is a little respect.

And that doesn’t cost a thing.

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