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Educators, administrators, students, and parents have been completely worn down by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact in classrooms and schools across the country. In a broken industry that was barely doing its part before the pandemic, vulnerabilities have been exposed and many teachers have decided that the only viable option is to leave the classroom and, in some cases, leave education altogether.
With no end in sight, this current mass exodus and teacher shortage promises to be a turning point in the education industry, and we are going to have to face the dire reality: we have to change the system to support both teachers and to the students. .
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As of June 2022, The Wall Street Journal‘s Kathryn Dill reported that “about 300,000 public school teachers and other staff left the field between February 2020 and May 2022, a nearly 3% drop in that workforce, according to Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
With the next school year fast approaching and reports like the recent National Education Association survey this year that found 55% of teachers said they would leave education sooner than planned, a stat now up from 37% in August past, the education sector is desperate to fill vacant positions and welcome back students this fall without having to resort to substitute teacher coverage (another subgroup that is also experiencing a massive shortage).
Every unfilled school staff vacancy means students are not receiving a high-quality education, which has a dramatic effect on outcomes for years to come. Research has shown that teacher absences have dire consequences for students. When schools and districts struggle to complete core courses, such as math and English classes, standard deviations decline in test scores and learning achievement, respectively.
A recent article by Desiree Carver-Thomas for the Learning Policy Institute noted that “teacher shortages can significantly reduce student achievement, as schools often cancel courses due to vacancies or staff classes with substitutes and unprepared teachers. who are not certified to teach their subject matter.”
Some states like California and Connecticut have responded to the shortage by lowering qualifications and certifications to enter the classroom, but this undermines students’ opportunities to learn from expert teachers, especially affecting students of color and those in economically disadvantaged areas.
Bodies in the building with students do not equate to successful learning or even long-term educational solutions. According to the research, “new or unprepared teachers tend to leave their schools at a rate 2-3 times higher than those who enter with comprehensive training.” As a result, this creates instability for both students and teachers.
The answer is not going to be to lower the bar and hire someone who is willing to take the job. The truth is that we are racing against the clock to solve the teacher shortage for our students’ futures as the number of vacant positions in schools and districts reaches record levels. However, despite another school year of great loss and opportunity, administrators and districts still have options.
Related: What the past year taught us about the gaps in technology for education
These are modern times, and there are modern solutions that can bring education out of the dark ages and into the 21st century. While virtual learning has gotten a bad rap in recent years due to the pandemic scramble to launch virtual classrooms across the country by unprepared (and untrained) districts, teachers, and students, virtual learning may be the saving grace to fill teacher vacancies.
Here’s what didn’t work during the pandemic: Moving traditional curriculum to a Zoom call is not an effective virtual learning approach. From my perspective as a digital education entrepreneur, this is where many school districts struggled the most. Most districts have attempted to take a curriculum developed for asynchronous learning (i.e., the click, click, next solution) and try to repurpose it for true virtual instruction, rather than investing in a dynamic curriculum in line. Students are not going to log in, turn on their cameras, or interact with content or teachers that they cannot personally connect with.
I am a firm believer that nothing replaces a well-qualified and credentialed teacher, and we can bring those expert teachers live to students and districts, regardless of geographic location. Live virtual teaching allows schools to draw from a national pool of qualified candidates. It has been my passion and mission to present to districts and administrators stellar teams of teachers who happen to be virtual educators; that’s literally what i do.
The technology is actually much simpler than it seems. By live streaming to teachers in classrooms or students’ homes, we do two things: We remove the geographic barrier to finding educators within a given location, and we give teachers the flexibility and working conditions they need and deserve. .
So instead of being limited to the area around them, districts can even choose teachers with experience outside of the schools’ regular core curriculum, giving students greater access to enrichment and elective courses for all ages. grade levels.
And administrators and districts can choose to keep schools open, providing access to services and supervision while receiving live virtual instruction from experienced, credentialed expert teachers. This technology does not replace teachers or physical schools: it adds flexibility as well as viable quality education options and alternatives to an industry that would otherwise be limping.
Regardless of whether remote learning takes place at home or in physical schools, parents, administrators, and students know they are receiving a quality education. Technology and flexibility can go a long way in alleviating the limited supply of teachers, and we need to get ahead of the limitations that have been placed on the education system in the past.
Related: Back to School, Not Back to Normal: EdTech Shaping a New Future for Education
We have to move forward. We have to do better. And we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We have all the tools and technology we need at our fingertips right now to support struggling schools and districts. With the correct implementation of virtual learning technology, schools do not have to fear a shortage of local teachers. In this modern age, quality education and live expert teachers are just a click away.