What happens when we have no teachers left to teach?
Nothing good that’s for sure...
Education is in crisis. Read any newspaper, watch any news report, or talk to any teacher and they all agree - the educational system is in trouble and will face more trials in the future.
Teachers are feeling overwhelmed, underpaid, and unappreciated. Rightfully so.
According to Forbes.com, teachers work an average of 47 hours a week, with a quarter working 60 hours a week or more and one in 10 working more than 65 hours a week. Four in 10 teachers said they usually worked in the evenings, with one in 10 working at weekends, according to data from more than 4,000 teachers in England.
Most non-educators believe that teachers have “all summer off,” but in reality, many need to find a second job to make ends meet. The majority of teachers plan, research, and take professional development courses (which they pay for themselves) to prepare for the next school year.
As a result, numerous teachers retire early, and teacher education programs face devastatingly low enrollment. An article in USA News states that some schools opened this year without enough teachers causing the administration to combine classrooms, forcing teachers to teach an average of 45 students per classroom.
Adding on to the pressure teachers face, there is a substitute teacher shortage, and now these overworked teachers are being asked to teach other classes during their prep and lunch periods causing more stress and exhaustion. As a result, we are facing a worldwide teacher shortage.
That same USA News article references the recent survey of National Education Association members conducted in January that found 55% planned to leave education sooner than planned because of the pandemic, up from 37% in August.
What will we do if we no longer have enough teachers to educate our children? We know the problem - but how do we creativity solve the problem? Who is responsible for solving this problem? How long do we wait to make a plan?
We could blame the pandemic. In March 2019, teachers were heroes - quickly adjusting everything they do to online learning. But in September of that same year, that sentiment drastically changed. Suddenly School Board members (a volunteer position) were being threatened over mask mandates and online learning. Law enforcement was called to break up fights at school board meetings.
But, honestly, this crisis started years ago. The pandemic just shed a bright spotlight on the issue.
Ask your kids about their school day, and you may see similarities to when you went to school: same bell schedule, same curriculum, same assessments. Education needs to reform - now!
Legislators have tried different scenarios like No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Standards movement. The problem is that non-educators are making that policy, so they tend to be out of touch with what is actually happening in the classroom and what actually NEEDS to be happening in the classroom.
What needs to happen?
It’s easy to say, “it’s not my problem.” Especially if you don’t have any children currently in the system yet, all of us must recognize that if our education system falls apart, so will our economy. In 1993, Gary S. Becker wrote a book called Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education. Becker argues that investing in education will create higher education resulting in a more robust economy and higher wages.
Therefore, this isn’t a “you” versus “them” situation. It’s an “all of us” situation.
How can you help?
Thank a teacher - This seems easy enough. Let a teacher know they are appreciated and that you respect what they do. Let them know that you recognize their hard work and are thankful for their contribution.
Spread the word - Help your community understand that education reform is long overdue. The “this is how it has always been done” attitude can no longer be applied to our education system.
Read - Learn all you can about what is happening in education. The more knowledge and awareness you gain - the more creative we can be as we work together to solve this problem.
Ask questions - Talk to educators about what they are experiencing in the classroom. How have things changed? What can you do to help support change?
Brainstorm - our education needs creative and critical thinkers to help solve this problem. Do you have ideas? Write an editorial. Call a politician.
Get involved! Once we embrace the fact that education is in crisis, the better we can work together to fix the issue. Hopefully, we will never know what it is like to have a classroom of students ready to learn without a dedicated and motivated teacher.
At Curiosity 2 Create, we are passionate about supporting youth and educators. We want to influence educational changes, increase teacher job satisfaction, and motivate students to be lifelong learners.
We can’t give up! We all must work together to make a difference.
Becker, G. (1975). Human capital. New York, NY: Columbia Univ. Press.
Morrison, N. (2022). One In Four Teachers Works 60-Plus Hours A Week. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorrison/2019/09/18/one-in-four-teachers-works-60-plus-hours-a-week/?sh=64bd9fbc1050
Scolforo (2022). Amid Scrambles for Teachers, Some Fear Worse Shortages Ahead. Retrieved 16 April 2022, from https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2022-02-03/amid-scrambles-for-teachers-some-fear-worse-shortages-ahead