Who cares for the caregivers?
Something is driving teachers out of the profession. Both newbies and seasoned teachers are leaving at a faster pace than ever before. Our schools need experienced teachers. Our most vulnerable kids need them the most. Teaching is a profession of the heart that requires a tremendous amount of skill. If teaching is in your heart, it is not something you leave easily. Yet teachers are leaving-why?
For the most part it is not about salary. Although there are some VERY notable exceptions in those states where teachers have recently engaged in state-wide strikes trying to get a living wage. But for the most part around our country, teaching is paying a solid middle-class salary with decent benefits.
So why are teachers leaving in droves. Teachers are leaving who teach in the core areas, the elective areas, all racial groups, ethnically diverse and LGBTQ and not! They are all leaving at about the same pace.
There are several different reasons that boil down to the same thing. Teachers do not feel supported in what they do.
Teachers who were on the picket lines repeatedly said, yes, it is about the money but it is also about the politicians and the members of the boards of education not caring that we are not making a living wage.
Teachers are a bit like statues of liberty. They welcome the poor, the weak, the disabled and the children from dysfunctional families – for each of these children, teachers lift their lamps beside the golden classroom. They are happy to do this. Helping kids is what brought them to teaching. But they need support!
We can’t blame teachers when students do not do well on standardized tests. There are lots and lots of reasons for poor test performance that have nothing to do with poor teaching. We can’t pretend that feeling helpless when the children you teach tell you about what went on at their home the previous night or parents who are fighting over custody and use the child as a pawn does not take its toll on the teacher.
Teachers worry about their students. They worry about the neighborhoods the children live in. They worry the children can’t pass all these tests. They worry they need to choose between meeting student needs and keeping up with the pacing guides. Good teachers and good teaching is critical to the well-being of our children and of our nation. Teachers are more than willing to do the heavy lifting. But we need to show we care about their well-being as well. We need to care for the caregivers. We aren’t and they are not taking it anymore.