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I don't know about you, but the summer is just flying past. Here we are in July, and I know some school systems go back in August. This reminds me that I wrote about teacher resignations and retirements last week.
The Washington Post had a story on local retirements and resignations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Check it out. The report included the remarkable fact that 3% of teachers in the U.S. were leaving the profession. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that's 300,000 teachers. It didn't mention support staff either. Think about that number in light of your school district or your local town or city. That's a lot of teachers.
I know that many districts are looking to fill positions. As I said last week, some are considering creative solutions, such as allowing people who have not yet completed undergraduate degrees to teach. Some districts are offering money to new teachers. Others are using involuntary transfers to balance out staffing issues.
As many new teachers know, sometimes the guidance of the paraeducator or aide can really help. This could benefit some of our paraeducators and aides, some with years of classroom experience but lack official certification. That's hopeful, and I'm an optimistic guy.
By the way, if you are looking to hire BIPOC educators, I recommend tapping into the Agogos job search platform. You can learn more about Agogos by listening to my podcast interview with Mr. Winston Daley.
As we look at returning to school in the next month or so - yes, I know - it does feel like summer just started. I'm thinking about many different things and wondering about solutions. Specifically, I wonder about climate change - how many of your classrooms are air-conditioned, and how many of you are in older buildings with less efficient HVAC systems? The recent heatwave has meant temperatures of over 95F and 100F in some areas. Some areas have lost power. Are you prepared?
Of course, school staffing is a concern. We desperately need more mental health support from counselors and therapists in schools. It's not just students. Teachers, parents, and community members need support, too. And don't forget the administrators. They are sometimes in a position where they have to follow policies and directions.
Speaking of policies, in some districts, the books in the library are being scrutinized, and so are the textbooks used. I read about suggested language in one district that referred to enslaved people as involuntary migrants. Fortunately, the suggestion was shot down, but the idea of trying to say that there were two sides to slavery and it wasn't all bad just just astonishing.
I have heard from some parents that their children worry about returning to the classroom in case of a school shooting. Sadly, we can't guarantee their safety, and they worry. We can all say it shouldn't be this way - but the reality is that it is.
None of these issues are new to teachers, but how do we reconcile this with the narrative that teachers are lazy, don't want to work, and must be policed by others?
I'm hopeful that this year we'll have more solutions than questions, and I look forward to answers from teachers and students, who have a much better idea of what we need than people looking at the issues from a distance.
My guest on my Livestream yesterday was Julie Steele. She's an educational consultant. Steele started her career as an elementary teacher, working in the 4th and 5th grades before becoming a mentor teacher. Her focus is on student-centered coaching. For more information on her work, check out dianesweeney.com. Give the Livestream a watch, and don't forget to subscribe to the channel when you get a chance. I think you'll learn from it, as I did.
Finally, I'm overwhelmed with the amount of support from the Leading Equity: Becoming An Advocate For All Students book launch. You can grab a signed copy here.
Until then, I appreciate all the well wishes and words of encouragement.
"Let's continue to be a voice in Leading Equity!"
Every Friday you can expect a small and informative message from the Leading Equity Center. The Weekend Voice is meant to challenge your thoughts of education today and to provoke you to take action in your schools.