What we learn from our educators
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, a national holiday that takes place during the first week of May. During this time administrators, parents, and students take the time to let their teachers know how much they appreciate and cherish their hard work. Some schools offer discounts to teachers on highly coveted items, while others offer school parties and lunches for the teachers. But after speaking to a teacher, I learned that what they want goes beyond the occasional classroom lunch and t-shirt. So this begs the question: what do America's Educators want?
A livable wage
On average, across the United States teachers make around $63,000 annually. Now if you are 21 and just starting your career, this seems like a feasible and fair salary. But when you are in your 6th year of teaching and making the equivalent of an entry to mid-level salary, it can be very discouraging. Considering the requirements to be teachers in many of our States, including having both a bachelor's and Master's and being certified, it seems that the end does not justify the mean. Oftentimes teachers accumulate massive amounts of debt to put themselves through post-secondary education. So a fair and competitive salary is only right.
Teachers are often spread thin, working with numerous students and very little supplies. Oftentimes classrooms in areas that don't have as much funding can be one teacher to 30 students. Now think about it, one adult for a classroom full of 30 students is already quite the undertaking but now imagine that you don't have adequate supplies for your lesson. Teachers often have to take money out of their salary to supplement the supplies that they do not get from their schools. Teachers want to support and aid, and monetary funds are a big part of that. Aside from just wanting more funding, teachers also want more support from their administrative staff and parents. It can be hard when the administration is pushing unrealistic expectations of teachers. When teachers don't have adequate resources and support, you can't expect them to be able to help each child be an A+ student. Also, when teachers feel that they don't have the support of parents they can also get discouraged. When a teacher is constantly reminding students to do their homework and show up on time but parents also aren't having these conversations in the home, it can become burdensome on the teacher.
3. Emphasis on individual support
Many schools can oftentimes get carried away with test scores. This leads them to treat classrooms as a unit instead of caring for the individual student. Some students may require extra help or assistance, but get overlooked because of the push for high test scores. Also, some students may be just pushed through different grade levels without actually grasping the curriculum because schools don't want to seem as if they're underperforming. Other times, students that are genuinely struggling are labeled as problematic or lazy when what they truly need is extra individualized support. When teachers realize and recognize these needs but don't have the bandwidth or the support of the administration to do more, they can feel as if they failed their students. Many teachers would appreciate it if schools took the time to understand that students have individual needs when it comes to their learning goals and objectives.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure teachers love the discounts, the pizza parties, and the free swag, but there is so much more that needs to be done to aid our Educators. The burden cannot be placed on them alone and we all should work together to support them!