How do we keep great teachers in the profession?
By: Becca Ritchie
We must acknowledge that…
Before being a teacher, which was not only a choice of a profession, but a true calling, to support and guide future generations,
And before any particular “job” they might have or hat they might wear,
Teachers are human beings first….They are people.
People who want to be valued.
People who want to learn and to grow.
People who want to be the best in their classroom for their students and have that desire nurtured.
Being valued, growing, learning, being nurtured…all feed the teacher’s soul and by doing so, motivates them to hone their craft, knowing full well that their students will benefit from it.
We are human beings, who instead of a scenario of support and caring, are fed a constant stream of “I wonder how you could do this better, faster, more effective.”
This is not followed by “I appreciate you” or “What you did with your students is amazing” or any other acknowledgement of how teachers go above and beyond every day in their classrooms.
These critiques mount on each other to beat down the very core of who we are.
You wonder why there is a sub/teacher shortage across the country, why GREAT teachers are considering leaving a profession that is so deeply embedded in their core? Or why teachers are breaking down in tears and feeling like failures?
It is because these continual critiques make them feel inadequate, like they can never do anything right, and like they are failures.
I am here to say OUR TEACHERS ARE NOT FAILURES. I work NOW with some of the most committed, caring, creative and engaging people I have ever met in my 25 years of teaching. They guide and support the children of Renton through their commitment to our profession.
When asked what is keeping teachers in their position, you will hear… it is not the pay, and definitely not the workload…it is the children we work with. Children are the future of our world and teachers view their responsibility of nurturing them to their fullest potential as a crucial charge. This is NEVER taken lightly because each decision we make affects our students with long reaching impacts that we may not know the outcome of for years.
Teachers set the tone in our classrooms; the tone of the building is set by administrators. The tone of our district comes from our school boards and our district leaders. The tone is causing excellent teacher to talk about leaving. Some newer teachers are disillusioned and discouraged. Some talented young people who might have considered teaching are pursuing other options.
How can we reset the tone of our district so teachers are supported and valued rather than belittled and denigrated?
This work is pivotal to answering the question, “How do we keep great teachers in the profession?”