I am a tenure teacher currently operating in a middle school. As a former elementary school teacher I can see how quickly things are “going south” for Public Education.
Things were not better “Pre-Covid”
While Covid made things challenging, it was a whole different world of challenging before the pandemic. I can say with confidence the MUTE ALL button while teaching virtually was almost equivalent to getting a raise. Teachers (especially elementary aged) were not teaching little minds but rather killing themselves to try to mold and correct students to be a respectful part of our classroom communities.
Today in middle school its a whole new world of sass. We have bypassed the awkward years of being a tween and have created a hormonally driven sense of entitlement. Students are so eager to be “grown” they carry themselves with an ignorance on the world and how it functions. Case and point, we had three throw downs yesterday before 9:30 am. Its not safe anymore to be in school.
Teachers are exploited for their morals while lacking compensation for the additional demands placed on them.
Any teacher will say “I don’t do it for the money” but when they have been abused by children both verbally and physically, demeaned by administration, and overworked by the system, teachers are taking ANY job that comes their way to get out of the classroom.
Beyond the teaching that is supposed to be happening in the classroom, we are working as a team to cover lacking areas of the system. We give up our planning to cover classes of teachers who are out sick or injured from breaking up fights. We have to prove our worth with vast paperwork showing we are doing our jobs, and have numerous parents to call after school to hold students accountable for their actions. Some of this may be apart of the job, but there is not time to actively do it. Hence why teachers are under payed for the job we do, and godforbid if we only do what is on our contract, students will not be getting what they need.
Effect: Incredible teachers are “abandoning ship”
I have seen some highly efficient teachers leaving the profession and taking entry level jobs in many other fields. They are super heroes for taking steps to protect themselves, prioritize their health, and find a new path. But man is it sad. I continue to convince myself everyday to wake up and get to the school house, but the shortage has had major impacts for the few of us still hanging on.
I have class sizes of 35+. My average class size is 37 students. That is literally insane. This is not because admin is negligent but rather there are not enough teachers to fill classrooms. In result of this, and the additional coverage all remaining teachers have to do to fill in for teachers out on leave or simply taking a day to go to the doctors is leaving us burnt out. Who then in return get worn down until they can’t take it any more.
Now this might not be news to anyone, but its what is happening across the country. We will continue to see a spike in school threats, over crowded classrooms, and in school aggression until the few teachers who are still in it for the long haul are compensated while might make teaching a slightly more desirable career.