Some of you have had knots in the pit of your stomach just thinking about returning. Some of you are resigned to the fact that this semester will likely be worse than the last, or just not any better. Still, others are a bit more optimistic and your plan is to do whatever you can to make the best of it.
Chances are really good that when you pulled into the school parking lot, you noticed a familiar car or two missing. Your heart sinks because you know that at least one of your colleagues won’t be returning. You popped into a classroom to greet a colleague only to realize their desk has been cleared and there’s no sign that they are coming back. You had no idea they were leaving. Your heart sinks, again. As an administrator, you’ve lost sleep and given up part of your break trying to find a replacement for those teachers who aren’t coming back. You’re facing the hard reality that your campus will be opening this semester with a new teacher and a vacancy that you will have to temporarily fill with a substitute if you can find one.
This scenario will play out in many schools throughout Florida and around the United States. Teachers are leaving the profession in record numbers. According to the Florida Education Association, the teacher shortage is the worst it’s been since 2016. In 2016 there were roughly 1,370 vacancies by the end of the year. At the beginning of the 2021 school year, there were 5,000 vacancies in Florida schools. As the first semester came to a close in December, there were 5,100 vacancies reported. The shortage isn’t limited to teachers. It is difficult to find substitutes, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians. Virtually all areas of educational support have seen a decrease in staff.
The only constant you’ll likely find this semester is CHANGE. The next few weeks we’ll be exploring the causes of these shortages.
We’d like to hear from you. What are you experiencing on your campus? What thoughts would you like to share with us?
I saw this meme as I was writing and I think it pretty much sums up teacher life. I hope it makes you smile and I hope you manage to catch some of the things thrown your way, but if you don’t that’s okay too. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. You’ve got this!
Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.