The Unsung Heroes Holding Our Classrooms Together

There are so many reasons that teachers are leaving. They’re overworked, underpaid, and pushed to the brink by the pressures and workload caused by the pandemic. It’s easy to focus on what’s missing, the people who aren’t there, but the news is not all bad. Schools have pivoted yet again to ensure that all students receive robust instruction to keep them moving forward.

Administrators, existing teachers, and staff have designed innovative solutions to keep from overcrowding classes. They’re combining technology with in-person instruction. Teachers are stepping up to keep groups of students together and rotate between classes to teach lessons to more than one group. Students are thriving.

Retired and former teachers are returning to “stand in the gap.” Many states offered special incentives for these folks to come back to the classroom, and they have. Those I had the opportunity to speak with noted they are glad to be back, making a difference for children. One administrator noted that he has a “new” teacher who used to sit at his desk at the district office. What a message to send that someone cares enough for the children in her community to come back and teach when she could certainly be doing so many other things. Not only are retirees returning to the classroom, they’re stepping up to provide intervention for students who struggle with reading and math. Some may be full-time, some may be part-time, but all are changing students’ lives.

School districts are working closely with colleges and universities to form partnerships with teacher training programs beyond the traditional student teaching model to allow education majors the opportunity to work with experienced mentor teachers during a paid apprenticeship. In turn, like other apprenticeships, the candidates will teach for a specified time in the district. Teachers in training have a lot to offer and can infuse new ideas into classrooms.

The landscape of schools has changed dramatically in the last few years. Teachers always come and go, as do other staff and administrators. The last few years have certainly proved to be a challenge, but sometimes the toughest times make us stronger and bring out the best in everyone. People are coming together to ensure that students have the opportunity to learn in a supportive, enriching environment.

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.

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