In part one of The Gathering Storm, we asked the question; “Who Will Teach The Students when all the teachers are gone?” To address this question we looked into some of the many issues impacting teacher retention and enrollment in teacher training programs. When you look at the decline in both instances a startling picture takes shape and further questions arise.
Can you imagine a future where children do not have the opportunity to be taught by a teacher they love and value? Can you imagine a future where children are not given the opportunity of having a teacher who choose to teach because of their love of knowledge and desire to help make the world a better place? Can you imagine a future where children do not have the opportunity to have a teacher that believes in them and shows them a path forward in life that they were not able to see on their own?
I am not saying that every teacher I had throughout my life was remarkable. I consider myself very fortunate to recall three teachers that I can say helped me to become the man I am today. One was a Greenpeace activist and a nature loving, guitar playing, lover of life. Another, a very eccentric, physically frail but intellectually dynamic lover of poetry, philosophy and film. The third was a Korean War Veteran, ponytail wearing, heavily tattooed, lover of literature, challenger of conformity, and a beatnik at heart. Despite being very different individuals, all three shared some commonalties.
The most obvious trait they shared was their love of teaching. I’m certain they had off days, but now I only recall their passion, devotion to their craft and sincere interest in the young minds and lives they were given charge of. Each individual was also engaged in life and shared their unique pursuits with their students. I remember being excited to attend their classes both for the subject matter and for the chance to spend time with really interesting adults who cared about you.
I graduated High School just before new standards were implemented. In fact, my beatnik teacher mentioned above retired the year I graduated. He did so because he was told he would no longer be able to teach certain novels because of their subject matter and would have to change the way he taught and measured success. He saw what was coming his way and being a nonconformist choose to exit on his own terms. I share this recollection because of its relevancy to the current crisis in teacher retention.
We Are Teachers did a great piece back in 2017 titled “Meet 4 Teachers Whose Resignation Letters Went Viral.” These letters provide valuable insights into the primary causes impacting teacher retention and help to explain why many college students are no longer pursuing a career in education. Their letters can also be viewed as a blueprint for the creation of a new system that is desperately needed. I want to close with a link to an uplifting post from Edutopia titled “Thank You Letters To Teachers.” The problems are real, the solutions are achievable, and the efforts are justified. Children deserve good teachers they love and teachers deserve respect and the tools and freedom to perform their noble trade.
Thank you for reading and for hopefully sharing your thoughts with us in the comments section.