The numbers were just released. Government data shows “Teachers and other public education employees, such as community-college faculty, school psychologists and janitors, are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Due to a tighter labor market and historically low unemployment rates, many teachers are thinking: I don’t need this. I can make more money doing something that’s less emotionally taxing.
If you have kids living at home, consider how exhausted you were spending just two weeks managing them over the holiday break.
I feel melancholy about this issue because many Americans believe our public school system is broken and we take it out on the teachers. Faculty tell me they consistently have parents confront them on their child’s poor grade; or try to negotiate a late paper or science project; or accuse the teacher of not doing enough to care for their kid’s needs. In reality, most teachers I know are good people who actually care about students and want them to learn. They agree that the system is broken, but they are doing as much as they can to teach within their current reality. Oh, and by the way, this problem exists in both K-12 and higher education.
So what can we do to keep our teachers?
Nine Ways You Can Support Teachers in Your Area
1. Ask a colleague about their favorite dessert or snack and make it a gift.
Discover who the closest colleagues to your child’s teacher are, and ask them what kind of special snack or dessert would make their day. This may feel like a small step, but it communicates someone appreciates them, and cares enough to find out something personal about them. I’ve had parents bring me popcorn after I have taught and I appreciated the gesture as much as the treat itself.
2. Identify what they need in their classrooms and purchase it for them.
It isn’t hard to uncover supply shortages in classrooms today. Tens of thousands of teachers buy classroom supplies out of their own personal salaries, because the school district can’t afford them. You can find out from administrators, staff or the teachers themselves. Once you discover the need (for markers, construction paper, or whatever), why not surprise them by stocking that need anonymously?
3. Write thank you notes, affirming specific qualities you appreciate in them.
It is not uncommon for teachers to go through an entire semester before hearing any word of gratitude from anyone. One of the best ways to put wind in their sails is to offer recognition for their hard work, specifically noting anything they’ve done beyond the call of duty. Make it personal and make it affirming…and you’ll make their day. This affirmation can be through words or tangible gifts you give.
4. Never criticize your kid’s teacher in front of your children.
It’s important, as much as possible, for adults to collaborate as they lead students. This means, parents and teachers, dads and coaches, you name it. Always support your kid’s teachers, administrators, counselors and coaches in front of them, and when in public. You’ll frequently find that public support leads to private influence, when you meet with them alone. Your kids need to know you’ll side with the adults who lead them and that both of you have their best interests in mind.
5. Organize an after-school homework group.
Many parents today work full-time jobs, and often both parents in a family do. If you have the time, what if you organized a study group that met at your home, the library or a community center to make sure the students did their homework. Too many latchkey students have little structure and this step could be a game changer.
6. Vote to support funding for education and teacher salaries.
I am fiscally conservative, and believe in balanced budgets. But one area I believe many states are sorely lacking in budget is school funding and teacher salaries. This emotionally expensive job should be filled by those who sense a “calling” to teach and should be paid appropriately, as ones who prepare our young for careers and leadership. The fact that it’s a “calling” is not a reason for low pay or benefits.
7. Make sure your kids are getting enough sleep and healthy food.
One big gift you can give teachers is to insure your kids are getting enough sleep at night. We consistently hear students say they don’t sleep enough, because they’re on their portable devices at midnight. Place some boundaries on technology and be intentional about eight hours of sleep at night in your home. This pays off at school.
8. Ask where you can volunteer to best help them.
Most schools provide a place for adults in the community (usually parents) to volunteer in the classroom, at after school practices, rehearsals or at lunchtime. It doesn’t require any special talent on your part, just time. Some schools would have chaos if not for volunteers who help out on campus. Could you offer some hours?
9. Always communicate respect to them and for them.
We live in a world of snubs, instead of salutes. Respect is down, especially when it comes to students toward their teachers. I believe we should model what respect looks like for those who educate our kids. This means at the dinner table, in neighborhood conversations and especially when you see those teachers.
Let’s find a way to pay our teachers with more than mere money.
Discover the Secrets of an Engaged School Culture at the
RoundTable for Principals 2019
Dr. Tim Elmore and our team invite your school to attend the 2019 RoundTable for Principals, an event for educational leaders who work in middle and high schools.
When you attend the 2019 RoundTable for Principals, you’ll get the key to:
- Turn core values into actions that inspire students, parents, and more to follow
- Improve teacher satisfaction and student achievement by increasing the levels of trust between faculty, staff, students and parents
- Increase collaboration between all parties to creatively solve problems and accomplish the year’s school goals
- Develop a big picture perspective in others that motivates them to commit to the school mission
- Apply the best practices to your school from companies that have legendary cultures, including Southwest Airlines
Don’t miss out on bringing your leadership team to this year’s RoundTable for Principals on June 20-21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Registration is limited to the first 200 school leaders who sign up.