When searching for explanations of teacher shortages online, a myriad of perspectives, data, and opinions arise, and rightfully so. This is an important subject that can be viewed from many angles, and it often brings up a lot of emotions. Our educational experiences play a big part in shaping who we are and how we view the world.
The complexity of the issue really underscores the importance of the concerns. Whether someone is a teacher, administrator, parent, student, business owner, or a concerned community member, they likely have a vested interest in the quality of education that students receive today. As we all know, today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders.
This guide takes a deep dive into teacher shortages: what a teacher shortage is, what causes teacher shortages, and the impact of a teacher shortage. But it’s not all doom and gloom. We wrap up by discussing a proactive and effective solution that thousands of schools in several hundred districts are benefiting from today. Read on to better understand the teacher shortage problem and what we can do to fix it.
What is a teacher shortage?
A teacher shortage is defined as educator job vacancies that cannot be properly or adequately filled. In a teacher shortage, the vacancies are noticeable, and they directly impact the quality of education. Shortages can be short-term or long-term, acute or chronic.
The concept of a teacher shortage is not new by any means, but the discussion has renewed importance, particularly around the start of the school year. Additionally, the conversation has added weight now as educators work to move past the immense challenges brought on by the pandemic.
It’s easy to blame the pandemic on the teacher shortage because it stressed our entire education system more than we could have ever imagined. However, teacher shortages have existed in varying degrees for a very long time and will likely persist well into the future.
Why is there a teacher shortage?
Many areas of the country are struggling with teacher shortages. Districts and schools are struggling to hire and retain certified teachers. Even the state that spends the most on education is dealing with a lack of bilingual and special education teachers. On the other hand, some districts report a surplus in qualified teaching candidates but likely still struggle to retain staff and hire suitable substitutes when teachers need time off. So, why is there a teacher shortage? The issue is complex and not likely to completely resolve any time soon, but there are a few key contributing factors we can discuss to explain why classrooms are missing teachers this year.
Feelings of Underappreciation
Teachers are some of the most important members of our society. They help our children learn and grow, and they knit together our communities. Teachers are experts in key subjects, and they have the special knowledge and skills to teach those subjects to children and adolescents. They inspire, lead, and serve. Even though helping students learn and grow can be highly fulfilling, teachers may still sometimes feel underappreciated. The pressures and stress can lead to burnout and may deter people from entering a rewarding career.
Teachers’ workload is always high, but has grown exponentially in the last couple of years. Teachers who were used to teaching in-person suddenly had to figure out how to teach online during a global health crisis. Then, many teachers had to figure out how to provide both in-person and virtual instruction, which literally doubled their workload in many cases. Now with a nearly complete return to in-person school, teachers are tasked with managing the adjustment for themselves and their students. On top of all of this, many teachers have to juggle large class sizes, requests to substitute during their preparation periods, and requests to teach subjects outside of their expertise. Teachers are truly special humans, but they are not invincible. The high workload, which only continues to increase, is a major part of the teacher shortage because it wears people down and makes the career less appealing to prospective candidates.
Unrealistic Pressures and Expectations
We can all agree that teachers are superheroes. They know how to get our kids to pay attention, they have vast reservoirs of patience, and they are incredibly creative. Most of us also have really powerful early memories of a teacher or teachers making a huge difference in our lives. That being said, sometimes our society’s expectations of teachers get a little bit out of control. Perhaps it’s too easy to forget that while teachers are superheroes, they are humans too.
Teachers hold a lot of our hopes and dreams and also suffer under the weight of unrealistic pressures. High expectations have a purpose, but they can get carried too far. Over the last few years, teachers have had to completely change their ways of working while still meeting the same standards. They have to grapple with the terrible rise in school shootings. They have to navigate the mental health crises that many students are facing. With the many unrealistic pressures and high expectations, it’s no wonder that teachers are finding other careers or choosing not to enter the field.
The Negative Effects of a Teacher Shortage
A teacher shortage impacts teachers, students, families, and communities. Many of the effects can be seen now, but the full impact will take time to unfold. This is because what happens in classrooms today directly shapes our future.
For teachers, a shortage means fewer resources and more demands. A teacher shortage is exhausting and demoralizing for educators and staff. A teacher shortage can hinder students’ achievement, limit opportunities for learning, and even impact graduation rates. As teachers get burnt out and students miss out on key learning experiences, families and communities suffer.
It is highly important that we come together to solve teacher shortages today and prevent them from happening in the future. Unfortunately, for many schools and districts, it is an uphill battle. They need a solution that is feasible to implement, flexible to fill different types of teacher shortages, and highly effective. Does a solution like this even exist? Thankfully, yes.
Elevate K-12 Is Changing the Teaching Industry
Here at Elevate K-12, we are changing the teaching industry with live teaching.
We bring high-quality live streamed instruction into K-12 classrooms. Schools and districts partner with our unique instructional solution to solve their teacher shortage challenges and overuse of long-term substitutes or low-quality teachers.
We are passionate about creating high-quality teaching and learning opportunities for teachers and students. Our Livestream Teachers have a U.S. teaching certification and the passion, training, experience, and energy to help students succeed. They are experts in fun and experts in live teaching. Together, we are on a mission to make high-quality instruction available to all students, irrespective of where they live, bringing equality to education.
We use innovative technologies such as Proprietary Live Instructional Management Technology, Live Instruction Service, Curriculum and Classroom Management. These tools enable collaborative teaching and learning that comes close to the dynamic experience of a real, physical classroom.
The tools include stop-and-check assessments and interactive polls that help teachers understand how students are feeling about lessons and concepts, and adjust instruction as needed. Also, teachers use whiteboards with advanced annotation controls that let teachers customize tools for each student. Interactive video capabilities help teachers and students break through many of the limitations of virtual learning and have an exciting education experience. Students can choose to raise their hands right in the classroom or inside the digital classroom. Finally, the digital tools let students and teachers chat privately and as a group, almost like they are in a classroom together.
We currently operate in 27 states and are rapidly expanding to new states across the U.S. in K-12 schools. For more information, visit www.elevatek12.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.