I recently spoke with a new teacher’s aide who hadn’t sat in a classroom since she was a student. Her eyes were opened to the unique challenges teachers face on a daily basis. A teacher’s job is both extremely rewarding and extremely challenging. Unfortunately, many are feeling the challenges outweigh the rewards…and choosing to leave. There are a number of reasons for this as teaching has always been hard. Now we have things like Covid and TikTok adding worries and stress.
People who freely criticize educators and school systems speak without truly understanding what it is like on the inside. They often speak without first trying to understand.
I once heard it said that “somebody who thinks they know how to teach because they were once a student is like somebody thinking they’re an expert plumber because they’ve flushed a toilet.”
There’s already a critical shortage of teachers. Society must change how it treats and supports educators before the teacher shortage causes doors to close. It is imperative that teachers and schools are held in high regard like they used to be.
What can society do?
1. Thank a teacher. Do this intentionally, sincerely, and often.
2. Don’t claim to have the answers when lacking training, experience, or an understanding of research about what works best. This applies to everybody - including politicians.
3. Don’t believe everything you hear.
4. When you have a question or frustration, go to the source. Seek first to understand. Don’t assume you know the whole story and vent on social media (or anywhere).
5. Support needed improvements at the ballot box.
6. There used to be prestige to entering the teaching profession. Encourage our young people to become teachers.
7. Become an active member in organizations that support local schools. Donate time and/or resources.
8. Trust those who have training and experience.
Doug Dunn is currently athletic director and junior high principal for the Licking (MO) School District. He has previously served as a K-8 superintendent and elementary principal. Doug can be found on Twitter @DougDunnEdS