The global teacher shortage is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. However, speaking from experience, the Number 1 reason why I left the physical classroom is – bad behaviour. Violence is a HUGE problem in schools around the world and it’s only getting worse. That’s why I’m starting this blog post with the number 1 thing governments can do to help our teachers and reverse the shortage:
1. Targeted, in-class support: Put simply – more teachers in the room. Each classroom should have one teacher and one, even two, teacher-aides for high needs classes. If teachers had another adult they could turn to in a crisis, someone to help out the students who need it, someone to patrol the room looking out for trouble before it starts – wouldn’t that make all the difference in the world! But you might be thinking – isn’t it hard enough to get just one teacher per class, let alone two? Yes, but investing in sufficient in-class support has knock-on effects over time. If teachers know they will be guaranteed support in the classroom, they are going to feel much more confident and able to do what they do best – teach! They will return to the classroom, over time. Speaking from first-hand experience, I felt immensely more confident when I had a teacher-aide in my room. Teacher aides are invaluable – they can help students who need it, they can deal with bad behaviour flare-ups, they can remove a child who is acting out quickly – keeping everyone safe and calm. Teacher aides are an absolute necessity in every class!
2. Increase teacher pay and benefits – One of the most significant reasons for the teacher shortage is that many teachers do not receive adequate pay and benefits. This discourages people from pursuing teaching as a career and can lead to burnout and attrition. By increasing teacher salaries and benefits, we can make the teaching profession more attractive and retain more teachers in the long run.
3. Improve working conditions – Teachers face many challenges, including large class sizes, inadequate resources, and limited support from administrators. By improving working conditions, specifically including a full-time behaviour management teacher aide in EVERY classroom, we can make the teaching profession more manageable and less stressful. This can help retain teachers and attract new ones to the field.
4. Expand teacher training programs – Many aspiring teachers face barriers to entry, including the high cost of teacher training programs and the limited availability of these programs. By expanding teacher training programs and offering more affordable options, we can attract more people to the teaching profession and ensure that they are well-prepared to meet the challenges of the classroom. In Australia, recent funding from the Federal Labor government has focused on fee-free TAFE and some uni courses. In some states, such as Victoria, for example, potential teachers can get a scholarship and a teaching traineeship where they can get paid working as a teacher while studying.
5. Offer incentives for teachers to work in high-needs schools – Many schools in low-income areas struggle to attract and retain qualified teachers. By offering incentives for teachers to work in these schools, such as loan forgiveness programs or higher pay, we can ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education, regardless of their post code.