It is no secret that students have had a crazy two years.
It is a running joke at The Oracle about how many times I’ve written the “what a crazy year we’ve had” introduction, and yet, I am back here writing it again. I am certainly not someone who has been more affected than anyone else. However, even for those like me who are not at the center of many of these global dilemmas, this has been a difficult time to be a student.
But this isn’t just a tough time to be a student. Just as students have dealt with things constantly in flux, teachers have had to learn to adjust too. Arguably even more so than students, they’ve had to remain incredibly flexible.
It is time that we properly appreciate our teachers.
I personally found e-learning and hybrid to be difficult as I was going into school some days and staying home others. However, teachers had, if not more to juggle, a very unique set of challenges to deal with as well. Not only did they have to contend for the attention of their students with a myriad of new distractions in their homes, but they had to find ways to uphold academic integrity when students were testing outside of the classroom. Between OWL cameras and the need to judiciously call on students in two drastically different environments, teachers had a lot on their plate.
Teachers had to ensure that students knew required materials once finals had been canceled this January. And now, after all of that, they have to adjust to changing mask policies in making sure that students feel comfortable and safe.
In a micro-sense, appreciating our teachers means recognizing them for all they do. It means being the most respectful student that you can be and taking time outside of “Teacher Appreciation Week” to let one know that you acknowledge their hard work. This can be anything from a nice note to a courteous thank you at the end of class.
In a more macro-sense, appreciation means way more than that.
Nationwide, there is a huge shortage of teachers, according to Frontline Research and Learning Institute, an organization that researches education and teaching.
In fact, we face not just a shortage but an exodus of teachers leaving the educational field.
In many states, it has crossed the threshold of a crisis. NPR recently aired a segment covering how in New Mexico, the National Guard was deployed to many K-12 classrooms not in a security role but to teach the classes. These guardsmen and women are trained for emergencies, but a lack of math teachers probably wasn’t the emergency they were expecting.
The problem crosses all communities. In addition to lacking substitutes, Frontline wrote that 75 percent of city schools are facing general shortages, as well as 65 percent of rural schools and 60 percent of suburban schools.
They found several reasons for the drop in available teachers, including low pay nationwide and increasing demands. Appreciating our teachers, on a national level means going beyond being respectful students but by fairly compensating our teachers and letting them do their job.
A bill that was being proposed in the Indiana House (Indiana House Bill 113), if passed, would have require teachers to publish their lesson plans for the whole year three months before the school year begins, a nearly impossible task.
Parents and the community obviously play an important role in dictating what students are taught, and none of this is to say that teachers can’t ever be wrong or worthy of criticism. However, teachers are essential workers with some of the most important jobs around. They need to be treated as such rather than constantly bogged down with impossible demands, in many cases for salaries that do not line up with the amount of education and time that they give towards their profession. Thankfully, that bill has failed, but it is indicative of the rising trend of undermining of teachers and our public education system
It’s been a crazy few years for students, but it has been just as crazy for teachers.