Guest blog post via James Kapptie @jpk38 @cowboyedpod
Opinions are those of the guest author
Covid 19 made the entire world reimagine what work should look like. The work environment and non-negotiables ( time & location) suddenly became negotiable. The world suddenly was not so concerned about where the work was done but simply that the work was done. Education made changes to what school delivery looked like, but was continually highlighting the idea of when we get back to normal. Now as we get back to “normal’, educators are leaving education at a rate we are not prepared for. So now what…
While there are lots of aspects to address for schools to continue to attract educators, one simple option is flexibility within their schedules. The stresses of teaching have never been greater, schools are expected to ensure everything from proper nutrition to emotional health all the while delivering content that guarantees students reach standards and are academically proficient. Educators need us to reimagine what their days look like. How do we do that? Start with a simple idea. Talk to them! Ask questions and listen to answers. We have solutions to lots of concerns that don’t increase cost but can change morale and the future of education.
Question One: What about your schedule would you change and how so? Can we flex time within a group of teachers? Can we mix virtual and in person learning? Can we work with community groups to offer engaging learning opportunities? Should paraprofessionals be hired by teachers? Could those paras take rolls like Physicians Assistants? What does Professional development add to your schedule?
Question Two: How can the community and parents be more involved? What are the ways that communities can take active parts in all these areas that schools are tasked with? Is the community involved in your school? Should parents be expected to be in school on a regular basis? Parents were forced to deal with sudden change of balancing work and children when COVID hit and employers adjusted. How can employers support parents being more active in their children’s education experience. Will more community involvement help build respect for teachers and the education arena? Will behavior issues inside schools decrease because of parent and community expectations and presence in schools?
Question Three: If educators need to be gone, how do we deal with that? Consider substitutes in other professions. Doctors, short term absences, they reschedule appointments. Long term absences, can they get someone to cover. Teachers need freedom to be gone when they need to be gone. Teachers should not face the burden of, I need to be gone but it’s so much work to do lesson plans, get sub and on and on. Can we take the focus off of content and move toward student experiences if educators need to be gone?
Question Four: What are the perks of this profession? What are perceived perks? What are industries offering as perks that educators would benefit from? The common issue that most educators face is that their job has lots of time off and that should balance everything else. How much time do teachers have “off” compared to other professionals?
Question Five: What was the hardest challenge for parents and students during COVID? Why did so many parents want their kids to go back? DO we want the answer?
Education has run on the same schedule for over a century. If we aren’t willing to consider what it can look like, we will never get to what it should look like. Solutions are all around us. There is no one right answer but there are solutions in each of our communities and states to address those needs. The biggest question is do we have the courage to ask? Do we have the courage to listen? Most importantly, do we have the courage to act before we miss out on that next great educator? We often ponder, maybe our student will find the cure to cancer or be a great musician or the next awesome developer. We need to wonder what if that next great educator is “lost” in some other profession.
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