I’m generally not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I believe that if someone needs to make a change, he should make it. Period. He shouldn’t wait for a new year to do so. Need to get more exercise? Well, start doing it, now—not on January 1st. And keep doing it.
However, I also realize that having a definitive start time for a new goal is powerful for some people. A New Year’s Resolution provides a little extra push to get starting on a goal that one is reluctant to face.
For those of you who don’t know this, the nation is facing a teacher shortage of almost crisis proportions. The impact of the shortage is having untold consequences on our state’s children.
Any time something impacts children, I get very concerned. We all do, I suppose. The underlying question that guides most teachers is this: “What’s in the best interests of kids?” I know it guides my school, my department, and certainly my own classroom. Teachers almost always put the needs of their students above their own.
However, doing that takes a toll and may be contributing to the teacher shortage, which will take an even bigger toll on our children.
It’s a catch—22…teachers care about students so much that they put students’ needs above their own, which causes some teachers to not make it long in this profession, which causes an even more destructive impact on children.
So I’ve been thinking of small ways (and one big way) that the state and districts could help teachers protect themselves a bit, which will ultimately protect our children, too.
The bottom line is that we need more teachers to stay in the profession longer, so here are some resolutions that might help with that.
No bladder infections in 2017: Each school should proclaim that no teachers will get a bladder infection in 2017. When teachers need to pee, they should do so, even if it means other adults have to roam the halls to babysit a teacher’s classroom as she’s at the bathroom. How could this happen?…I’m not sure—maybe a crew of parent volunteers who go through hallways, looking for teachers who need three minutes to take a pee break.
No sick teachers at school in 2017: Each district should proclaim that teachers should not come to school sick. Do I even need to delineate why teachers shouldn’t come to school sick? However, many do because there are not enough subs to go around.
Little-to-zero of teachers’ own money spent on teaching supplies: The state should allot districts money for individual needs of classrooms, making the resolution be something like this: The state does not want teachers to spend more than $100 of THEIR OWN MONEY on classroom supplies. For example, last week, I spent $14 on an Amazon book order, because I am short a few text books, which the district cannot order because the books are out of print. I can buy them on Amazon “Used Books” section, though, so I got three books for $14. To be fair, I could have asked the parent group to buy the books, but that takes a great deal of time, and I needed the books quickly.
A Limit to the number of extra hours teachers must spend: Each district should be realistic about the accumulation of hours that teachers are responsible for outside of their own teaching, planning and grading. Someone at the district level should count the number of hours that each task takes a teacher to do and then limit the number to something reasonable (three hours per month, perhaps).
No parental attacks on teachers until the parents hear the full story: Honestly, I rarely get attacked, but that’s because I’ve been around for so many years and now I’m teacher of the year, so parents give me the benefit of the doubt. That’s not always the case, though. Parents, please talk to your child’s teacher before calling the principal or sending an angry email to the teacher. Maybe you’ll still want to contact the principal, but give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, just as we (teachers) try really hard to give our students the benefit of the doubt.
This one is the most important (and far-fetched) of all of them:
Fund our schools at close to the national average: State legislators should make it a resolution to get out of the bottom of the nation’s barrel in terms of funding. I’m tired of being #48 in the nation. I honestly don’t know how some legislators sleep. Are our children worth less than other of the nation’s children? I hope the answer to that is “No,” but actions indicate that people in this state do believe that our kids are worth less.
Actually, THIS one is the most important:
Make it so that 2017’s resolutions could be focused on making things better, rather than on just making sure things don’t get worse.