Want to understand what is happening in our schools? Ask a teacher. Education policy hits home in our household. In addition to my wife, Hedrick Patrick Lewis, my mother and her mother, my sister-in-law, and her aunt are current or former teachers.
Talk with them or their friends about what is going on in the classroom: they will tell you that recruiting, supporting, and retaining high-quality teachers should be our district’s top priority.
Qualified teachers are leaving the workforce after less than 5 years in the classroom. The reason: it’s not pay- it’s not the hours- increasingly, teachers report their greatest frustrations are the increasing non-teaching burdens (e.g., testing, parenting, mentoring, fundraisers, paperwork).
We are constantly asking teachers to cram more and more into a fixed amount of time. We need to support teachers with a comprehensive network of supports:
1. We need to work with partner agencies to take non-classroom burdens off their plate. We need community partners who can assist them with challenges their students face.
2. Teachers shouldn’t be isolated in their classrooms. They need to experience what is happening in other learning environments. We need expanded professional development offerings, including mentoring, shadowing other teachers, comprehensive feedback opportunities,
Our plan to recruit, support, and retain quality teachers has been shaped through hours of conversations with over 100 teachers, SIC and PTA members, community members, and faculty from Education departments across the Southeast. I am proud of the public and private support we have received from educators across our community.