One of the biggest changes facing our educational system is the mental health of teachers. Teachers are seeing the value in self care and choosing to limit the things we say yes to do. But here is the problem-these things will be done whether you say yes or not. So what is happening is a small few doing the “extra duties as assigned” of a large group.
A few things on that list:
Battle of the Books Coach
Morning and afternoon duty
After school clubs
Gifted programs like DI
All these things benefit kids, but adult volunteers have to run them.
I truly believe we are in the age of a teaching revolution where the spotlight will be how we can support education. Already seeing more reforms for stipends, better security and awareness of the teacher shortage and how the community can support us.
I love it. I feel valued and heard. It inspires me to keep going knowing I am seen. Teachers should be respected, but it starts with respecting ourselves.
Be the professionals we are in our dress, conduct and attitudes of what we do. I am not saying jeans are bad-but do not roll up like you are about to garden. In fact, I would prefer scrubs!
I am looking forward to a year where it is acknowledged that teachers have been leaving (and may continue to go) so embrace the ones that stayed. Value the extra confident ones while supporting and encouraging the ones that see the struggle.
We are in this together and there is room at the table for more educators ready to join together and speak truth of critical needs that should be addressed such as increasing veteran teacher pay. How many companies enter your best pay your first year (new and clueless) and after 20 years make about 8k more than when you started? 8% increase over 20 years?!? We can do better.
We are not baby-sitters. Summers are not completely off. Anyone cannot be a teacher. It does require a college degree. Our job is not easy. It is not true “If you cannot do-then teach.”
I have heard this and more and it is just.plain.wrong. But finally, our voices are being heard as there is a MASSIVE teacher shortage across the entire USA.
For the first time in my career districts are negotiating and offering incentives for teachers. What we do is challenging and most do not do it for money, but so good for others to see our value and importance then recognize it with more decent wages. Teachers are priceless and I hope this brings the reform and change in mindset we deserve. This season will be hard, but with our voices we can bring about some change!
Teachers-do not let this time in history pass us by! God is doing something in this hardship and making a way. He has heard our prayers. We are some of the most graceful, patient, flexible, persevering people on the planet (this is why we make great teachers), but those traits have often get us run over with long, unpaid hours, little to no yearly raises, increased health insurance expenses (since we have the time to go to the doctor), ridiculous political mandates that have no benefit for the kids just brings about more paperwork. Sometimes I think we do not even take ourselves seriously in an effort to be humble. But when schools were shut down, we stepped up with innovation and new ideas-quickly. This is our time to be heard,show our value, model our professionalism and gifts/talents. We do this with our actions and being willing to have the hard conversations in love for the kids.
The pandemic knocked us down, but we got back up and are now stronger and for the first time seen. The world is watching! This is our time and we are ready!
Covid has wreaked havoc on education. Sub shortages, teachers leaving the profession, kids with anxiety and on medication…now even the leaders are retiring. So the big question is “Why?”
The short answer is apathy. In order to keep schools afloat and not ruin an academic future, schools required as little as possible. We took one grade per week, made most assignments optional, gave a choice to show up in person…we made learning easy and students got comfortable. However, what we were doing was hardly education. We were surviving.
When schools reopened, we again made many things optional and the virtual experience became a joke. Students got a year of very minimal learning as most teachers were forced to do a hybrid learning model. So now even though school was back in session, the learning struggled as teachers were overwhelmed balancing both. Later, Texas tested all of our kids while saying it did not count…was a baseline for the future. Wrong!
HB4545 is attempting to bridge the gaps of the horrific scores that “did not count” while frustrating teachers and making them feel defeated. Students have seen how minimal effort can bring a grade and failing is still nearly impossible so why put in more than the minimal? Then we got the sub issue.
Certain districts pay more than others so subs are really community members that love their community.
Watching the Amazing Race episode 3 when they shut down due to Covid, reminded me I have trauma. Trauma from life shutting down and my job closing. Trauma from sending kids home with one hug and a good bye. Trauma from virtual teaching. Trauma from homeschooling as a teacher. Trauma from learning new things and putting them to use quickly. Trauma from wanting to teach but realizing we are just giving a grade…most kids did as little as possible.
The teacher trauma is real!
Now we have schools with anxious students and teachers and leaders in very stressful situations. Balancing everyone’s mental health and not wanting anyone to break.
So here we are…brave educators digging in deep to ride this out. Kids are fragile so we all must walk carefully. No other job impacts children like teaching and I am here to stay…but things are challenging as you have to choose between scores and sanity.
It is what is, but the more support the better! Parents show you care. Teachers check on each other. Leaders show grace and compassion and serve your staff. Students come to school to learn. We can conquer this together. God is with us and suffering produces perseverance. The answers are complicated, but hope and love are strong and I believe in our business and system.
I love a good teacher comedy! Something about sharing a teacher experience is refreshing. No matter where or what you teach…we are connected.
Our community is strong.
So when Abbott Elementary on ABC came on, I got excited because I love a good laugh especially when it involves my job. However as I started watching, it was more than laughter-I felt tears then heartache and surprisingly I learned something.
So here is my professional development from the first 3 episodes:
Episode one- The Pilot- Learn from others. Teaching is a humbling job and the best thing you can do is model your skills while learning from others. Love how the new teacher came in hot with energy, buy was humble to seek the wisdom of the veterans.
Episode 2- Avoid teacher burnout! The kids need all kinds of teachers and teachers need each other as well. Experience is priceless in this business so avoid the burnout by doing what you can do and letting go of the rest. Lesson 2- “say what you need to say and move on” Teaching has tough conversations, but do not be afraid to have them! Parents, admin, fellow teachers…speak up, but then move on. This takes practice!!
Episode 3-Drawings are love! It is so true that teachers get jealous when students love certain teachers more than others. I cannot count all the times I have grimaced when a student makes something for her, but not me. When a kid draws a picture or writes a note…that is love! Nothing warms your heart more especially when it is unexpected or from a “big kid”! Lesson 2-throw it away! Teachers hoard! We love to turn what is not into something that could be….it is the art of teaching. But trash is trash and sometimes we just need to throw it away! Moving rooms can be a blessing if you can be brave enough to throw it away! After 20 years, the crap I have is amazing…I need to be like Elsa and let it go!
Looking forward to episode 4 and what else I can learn from teacher comedy! Of course it is exaggerated and over the top…disinterested principal, grumpy janitor, fire hazard lights…but then again depending where you work maybe not. Either way support an educator…we need you right now!
New school year brings new fun and a new level of busyness. I am still teaching 5th grade, but with a new team so that always brings new challenges. This looks to be the first year in three that we might be in school the entire year! I cannot teach virtually ever again so praying we survive the winter! I finally have my joy back in teaching after Covid took it away! This year I am a coach for Battle of the Books, UIL, mentor teacher and Webmaster (ha!). You know I feel good when I choose to add more roles (and work) to an already busy life as mom and teacher.
Hard to believe, but my son is in 3rd grade. I hate how STAAR affects our SPED kids, so I have been dreading this year. Also praying that ridiculous HB4545 disappears because it is doing nothing but making a hard job harder. Hopefully, we can find a place for this test that saves education until then I will advocate as a mom and continue to push through as a teacher.
I count having my first child in my mid-thirties a blessing because I had a lot of time to think about cool things I wanted to do as a parent. One cool thing is dressing a baby up like a man.
That hat was my grandfather’s so that look is extra special to my heart.
Another fave thing was taking the month to month pics the first year. This process was super hard and only got harder each month but love looking at the 12 months all together.
Poor kid endured big dress ups on every holiday! Here are some faves:
But two more cool things that I only do because I had lots of time to think about kids is….1. I have a Dr Seuss book that each of his teachers sign and I will give it to him at graduation. It is a great reminder of all the teachers that poured into him each year. I keep a school picture from each year so we can see how he grows. 2. Keep a frame with those school pictures as art on the wall.
I want this to be a daily reminder the time goes fast so make the memories and track them for the future. Thankfully I started these early so I have the keepsakes needed.
I am sure there are so many other ways to track the memories. Do you have any special ones you do?
I am a teacher and I worry often about the education of my son. He struggles academically with reading and math. He has documented disabilities and sensory issues. He has ADHD…but this kid is SO creative!
He is a kid that sees things not as what they are, but what they could be. He was created by God and gifted to us through adoption. I was made to parent him, but his academic struggles stress me out since creativity is not tested.
I wish they tested being awesome because he would score off the charts! I wish school would focus on the creative mind…the mind you cannot teach-it is just there and it is valuable and priceless and will change the world. Until then, I will be his biggest fan and prepare him for a education that is narrow focused, but he is more than that.
Covid hit the educational world hard. Overnight, learning moved to the virtual world and the stability of the classroom was gone. I never knew how traumatic it was until summer hit and I rested. My body and mind were exhausted.
Returning in person has had challenges, but there is some consistency in our routines, face to face checkins and the smiles and connection to keep us all going. We were required to take Trauma Informed Care for staff development and I needed it!
I needed to learn to take care of myself. I needed the reminder to have empathy for those still in virtual learning. I need to rely on my coworkers more. I need to speak up when I am struggling. Thankful for Crandall ISD that cares about our mental health and gives us time to learn more about the trauma we have all experienced.
One thing is for sure, I have never looked at my face so much as when I have been a virtual teacher in quarantine. Virtual conferences, my pic on a million teaching apps, recording my teaching, having to post pics of me to document I am working…I see me a lot and I am only looking quarantine cute.
My house looks like a hot mess!
I stare at this all day or constantly check my cell phone to respond in a timely manner.
I have heard the background noise of other people's houses more than I ever care to hear. There are some loud homes out there, America!
The codes, the codes, the codes. All the codes to get into all the things! Managing my class and my son’s classes just add to all the codes, new apps downloaded, new accounts created and all this technology makes me want to do my next topic…
Work out, walk, stand outside, put my headphones in and be by myself. I look forward to a workout every day now that there is time. Something about being still in nature and with God is special right now more than ever.
The hardest part is explaining it to a child that truly cannot get it. No words can explain it and it is hard to say no friends, no school, no going to parks. God is good and we will be stronger from this. Pastor Steven Furtick says it is not a matter of if this will end it is a matter of when it ends will you be better from it??