The current teacher shortage crisis has cast a long and troubling shadow over the American education system, significantly impacting superintendents and students. In the 2021–22 school year, 28% of educators left their teaching profession, citing low pay, high workload, lack of support, and challenging working conditions.
There have been attempts to address staffing issues with alternative certification programs, substitute teachers, and rehiring retired educators. But to truly solve and prevent future teacher shortages, school districts, and policymakers need to adopt effective and sustainable practices — like placing certified teachers in vacant positions, using technology for live teaching opportunities, and reversing the high turnover rates.
Below, we’ll examine a few of these sustainable solutions in greater depth.
1. Reduce Teacher Workload
In a survey by the National Education Association (NEA), 55% of teachers responded that they plan to leave the profession earlier than scheduled due to stress and workload. From the study, 67% of teachers identified burnout as a very serious issue, with 90% of the respondents reporting it as somewhat serious.
Teachers are often overworked and underpaid. They spend 53 hours per week (7+ more hours than the average worker) planning lessons, grading papers, and managing classrooms. Teachers also face pressure from high-stakes testing, challenging student behaviors, parental correspondence, and dozens of other school-related extracurricular activities. All these factors contribute to teacher burnout and stress, causing a high turnover rate.
Reducing teacher workload would give teachers more time to prepare for class, provide individualized attention to students, and collaborate with other teachers. New teachers, in particular, need more support from experienced teachers to develop their approach — but that’s only possible when they have the time and opportunity to communicate and collaborate.
Elevate K-12, a LIVE synchronous instruction platform, can help reduce teacher workload by allowing qualified teachers to teach live online classes. Elevate K-12 provides teachers with standardized curricula and lesson plans built by our curriculum experts, aligned to state and national standards, and customizable to fit the scope of each district.
We also equip our engaging, energetic, and experienced teachers with interactive tools to connect with students and incorporate social and emotional learning into classroom activities.
Within the classroom, paraprofessionals help manage behavioral issues and provide in-classroom support, creating a more conducive learning environment for both teachers and students. For example, a Spanish teacher living in San Francisco or London can stream into a classroom in rural Tennessee. Learners, schools, and teachers can benefit substantially from this approach.
2. Improve Teachers’ Working Environment
A healthy working environment is critical for teacher retention. Teachers are responsible for shaping our future leaders and deserve to work in an environment that supports their growth and well-being.
However, many teachers report grappling with unsatisfactory working conditions, inadequate resources, and unrealistic expectations.
Elevate K-12 helps improve teachers’ working environment by providing a virtual teaching platform that allows teachers to work remotely, eliminating geographic location constraints and large class sizes.
Teachers can set their working hours, giving them more flexibility and control over their workload and work-life balance. By enabling teachers to set their hours, schools can welcome highly experienced teachers back from retirement, empower stay-at-home parents to return to teaching part-time, and connect with many other qualified professionals with select availability.
This can increase job satisfaction and retention, as teachers feel valued and more supported. Students also benefit from individualized attention and access to high-quality education, improving their academic performance.
3. Integrate Technology into Classrooms
Integrating technology offers a sustainable and scalable solution for shortages, as mentioned above.
It’s a sustainable solution because it allows districts to plan long-term, knowing that they have a trusted solution already implemented. Other band-aid options like substitutes or bigger class sizes are only immediate fixes — and the district is left to scramble to find another band-aid solution in the following semester or year. Technology empowers districts to know they have a reliable, dependable solution already in place for years to come.
Technology, once used to keep everyone safely distanced, can now bring students and teachers together. All Elevate K-12 programs have fully interactive video capabilities to create a supportive group learning environment. Elevate allows teachers to choose their work hours, up to 25 per week.
During ‘live teaching,’ the instructor is projected on a large screen in front of the class and sees all the students as one class — not individual video squares. The students can see the teacher on the large screen and their personal monitors. Teachers demonstrate a lesson or activity, students and teachers work through it together, and then students take on the lesson independently.
The in-room support staff helps students navigate their technology, and teachers receive live, 24/7 tech support to troubleshoot when needed. This teaching method allows for personalization, collaboration, and real-time feedback from the teacher to the students.
Bring Elevate K-12 Teachers to Your School
Teacher shortages will only worsen without proactive efforts from the U.S. Department of Education, state legislatures, and school districts.
With fully staffed classrooms, schools can reduce their teachers’ workloads by reducing class sizes and alleviating caseloads. This can keep students more engaged throughout the entire school day, which improves learning outcomes and helps them retain information more effectively than if they had taken classes taught by long-term substitute teachers.
Elevate K-12 offers a unique approach to solving the teacher shortage problem by using technology, connecting certified teachers with schools in need, and providing live, virtual teaching opportunities.
High-need schools can benefit significantly from this model, as it offers a solution for geographic arbitrage, provides access to experienced and qualified teachers, and creates a supportive learning environment for students and educators.
Contact Elevate K-12 to take the first step toward resolving the teacher shortage in your district’s high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.