As we wrap up this crazy school year and I end my 17th and possibly my final year of teaching, I’d like to address some needs I have seen throughout this pandemic.
What teachers need:
- Professional development opportunities that are tailored to them, not the one size fits all that no one actually pays attention to. Teaching from home has shown me how lucky I’ve been to have all the professional development I’ve had because it made my time teaching remotely less stressful. Don’t get me wrong, I struggled, but this made it easier. Invest in your teacher’s content knowledge development and classroom space.
- As an aside, National Board Certification did more for me than anything. So much so that I shoulder tapped others at my school because I know that an accomplished teacher is important for all students.
- Support and coaching. This may come from someone on campus as opposed to an administrator. This year, I’ve been lucky to have that job and my principal told me that my job is to make them better without admin interference. He made the point that teachers see administrators or department chairs as evaluative as opposed to what teachers may need, which is someone to talk to, someone to help them reach their highest potential, or someone to work through a problem with them. Teachers need an ally.
- A livable wage. I still don’t understand why we have to fight this.
- A community to support them. We all have the same goal, the success of the student, so the hope is that as an educational team we can succeed. Parents are the experts in their children, and teachers are the experts in their classrooms. Those two entities working together can be incredible.
- Technology. I mean, do I need to explain this? You’d be shocked at how behind some districts are in that realm.
What teachers do not need
- To be shamed or used as a scapegoat. Many of the things I was “yelled” at for by frustrated parents were completely out of my control or the decision was made by someone else, not me. I’ve been a dumping ground more than once until I finally stood up for myself.
- To be told they aren’t good at something. You can always improve, and the best way to improve is to have the support to do so. Too often, we hear that so and so isn’t a good teacher. What does that mean? How has anyone tried to help? And if they have tried to help, why isn’t is this person a teacher. Don’t be afraid to coach people out of teaching. It’s not for everyone.
- My challenge to you is the next time you hear that someone isn’t a good teacher, ask what has been done to help them. Change the conversation to productivity instead of trash talking.
- An outdated curriculum. If you are following a curriculum not made by teachers, you should start to ask questions. Lots of them.
- To be told we have time off. Look, my contract was for 200 days. I didn’t have “weeks off or summer off” because I wasn’t getting paid. It’s really that simple.
It is my great hope that when and if I decide to come back to the classroom, it will be a better time for all teachers. I will always be an advocate for education and a warrior for teachers. That will never change.