Are We Headed Toward a Teacher Shortage?

Bureaucrats at state levels of government have been warning of an impending teacher shortage for years. As they eye the bubble of teachers who belong to the Baby Boom generation, the numbers are self-evident. As Baby Boomers retire from teaching and take off to reinvent themselves for new endeavors (like I did), the number of new teachers in the proverbial pipeline doesn’t come close to matching the number who are leaving.

In this article posted in Huffington PostAFT President, Randi Weingarten,  argues the case for how a teacher shortage could become a national crisis.

I would suggest that the corporate reformers and members of the anti-union coalition around the country will cheer at the notion that their tactics are working. Legislators who have been offering anti-public school legislation based on ALEC‘s boilerplate templates won’t be sad to consider a teacher shortage, either. Instead of seeing a teacher shortage as a national crisis, they will see it as a win in their column and a way to further their agenda which is, I believe, to dismantle public education altogether. They will then be able to turn education over to charter schools (both public and private), private and parochial schools, and virtual schools that will assist the home-school movement.

Those in the media won’t be sad to see a teacher shortage either. Many in the mainstream media have deliberately and consistently contributed to the deterioration of the teaching profession as a profession for over 30 years, starting with their promotion of the negative narrative first presented in The Nation at Risk Report (1983).

I have been a public school advocate my entire adult life. I am a product of public school education and earned two masters degrees and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. From 2008-2012, I was the President of the Virginia Education Association. I went to battle with the then Governor and then Republican-led legislature during those years, trying to explain why due process for teachers doesn’t translate to tenure (a job for life). Most of the laws that were passed during that time were counter to what was in the best interest of public education and the children who attend our public schools. Additionally, the attack on teachers was vicious and personal. It was all part of a larger agenda which is to discredit public school teachers so that public schools can be dismantled and turned over to corporate entities who want to cash in on the charter school movement.

I left that position worn out and weary from the battle. The idea of returning to the classroom to teach again made me want to weep from weariness. I knew I was too physically and emotionally exhausted to do justice to my prospective students. I decided that for me, returning to what I feared would be an environment centered on testing more than teaching was a bridge I could not cross. So I left. Since then I have been coaching and counseling teachers who are burnt out and ready to find something else to do with their lives.

Teaching has ceased to be a truly professional endeavor. Teaching has become more about following a script, keeping up with the pacing guide, and testing for the sake of testing. It is ridiculous, and everyone involved knows it, but the political will to fix the systemic problems and address the underlying social issues that contribute to the problems in education leave teachers feeling helpless.

Teachers feel beaten down by what has happened to them and their profession. Some are still fighting the good fight, and I cheer them on because I want them to win.

Many are leaving the profession in frustration, however. They leave because, in spite of the fact that they still love their students, they hate all the other trappings of teaching in today’s data-driven environment.

I admit that I feel guilty on occasion about offering assistance to those who want to leave. I detest the idea that their leaving might speed up the dismantling of public education. I know in my heart, however, that life is just too short to do anything you no longer enjoy. I also believe that children deserve to have teachers who want to be with them. As a result, I want to help those teachers who no longer want to teach to figure out a way to do something else. Do I believe there is an impending teacher shortage? Yes. Does that make me sad? Absolutely. Do I believe that we can fix the systemic problems that are causing teachers to leave? I am not sure.

In case you still care about public education as a public good, whether you are a teacher, a parent or just an interested citizen, if public education is to survive, more people need to be willing to speak up for and defend it. So far that hasn’t happened, but I haven’t given up hope completely. Just this past weekend, a group of dedicated teachers gathered for a conference of members of the Network for Public Education. I am also aware of a group on Facebook of which I am a proud member:  BATS for “Badass Teachers.”

Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Julian Vasquez Heilig are just a few high-profile individuals who continue to advocate for public education and public school teachers. They, along with leaders in each of the teachers’ unions, the NEA and theAFT, are working hard to try to carry the message that we should not give up on public education. I am so glad they are still fighting.

At the same time, however, I get calls from teachers who are asking for my help. “I still love my kids and if I could just teach, I would be happy to stay. I can’t stand all the other stuff that goes with it, though. The endless testing, the meaningless paperwork, and administrators who no longer support me have made it an untenable job. I can’t do it anymore.”

If there is an impending teacher shortage, it should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

 

 

#1 Thing You Need To Know if You are Thinking about Changing Your Career

I am obsessed with the notion of being a “Career ‘Makeover’ Coach.”

I think the reason for this is that I want to help people who find themselves at a career crossroads figure out what they want to do that will be perfect for them because I think work to be fun and fulfilling!

I want people to be doing work that is in alignment with their core values.

I want them to be working in a career that taps into their unique gifts, talents, and aptitudes.

And I want them to be happy to go to work every day instead of dreading it.

I recently posted this message on my Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter pages:
If you hate Mondays

Photo by Shutterstock.com

It isn’t enough to know that you want to make a change, however. You have to know what you want to do to replace what you are already doing. 

Lack of clarity is the #1 problem I hear from most of the individuals with whom I meet on a regular basis. 

Along with a lack of clarity, however, is a misunderstanding around the purpose of your resume. Most people mistakenly think that the first thing they need to do when they are ready for a job change is to write their resume. They think they should sum up all of their qualifications from their entire working career and plop it in a resume that they then upload into a database and they wait for some magical combination of events that might land them a new job.

It doesn’t work like that anymore if it ever did.

Today, you must first decide what it is you want, get crystal clear about the direction you want to go, and THEN you are ready to write your resume making sure that your resume matches the job description for the job for which you are applying.

Most people don’t get that in the beginning, and that is why they struggle so with the whole process of job hunting. Few people really know what they are doing when they start out which is why people increasingly need some sort of professional help.Clarity…knowing what you want and then having the courage to go for it. That is the #1 thing you need to know before you start looking for a new job or a new career.

Read, journal, meditate, pray…do whatever you need to do in order to get in touch with yourself and consider what you want to be doing with the time you have left on the planet. Do you want to be working in job or career that is meaningless even though it may pay the bills? I think most of us would opt for less money, frankly, if they knew that they were doing work that was meaningful and would impact the lives of others in a positive way.

It isn’t just hype to consider that your work and your mission and purpose in life should be aligned. I happen to believe that it is why we are here. We don’t want to leave this life feeling that we didn’t make a difference to someone. It is in our DNA to want to leave a legacy.

What do you want yours to be?

Career and Passion

Photo by Shutterstock.com

Until next time.

Photos by Shutterstock.

For questions, contact me by email or call me at 804-404-5475.

 

It's Time for a New Job