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What Do Our Teachers Need?

There are many policy issues involving our education system and its needs for improvement. One way to gauge this need is to look at teachers and their opinions. A recent survey by Adopt a Classroom highlights teachers’ workloads and students’ health and learning loss:

We surveyed 4,665 PreK-12 teachers at public, private, and charter schools nationwide. Eighty-five percent of the teachers who responded described their school as high-needs, where 50% or more of students receive free or reduced lunch. Read our 2022 State of Teaching survey results:

Classroom Survey Statistics (Adopt a Classroom)

  • 81% – The overall workload has increased.
  • 80% – Spending more time addressing students’ mental health.
  • 71% – Spending more of their own money on classroom materials.
  • 69% – Getting students back on track from learning loss.
  • 58% – Increase in classroom interruptions during instruction.
  • 55% – Less planning time due to staff shortages and other factors.
  • 45% – Had to change their curriculum.
  • 35% – Received a smaller budget for school supplies.
  • 30% – School or districts’ priorities changed. 
  • 25% – Changes to assignments or their classroom.
  • 18% – Had less access to instructional tools and materials.

Concerning Statistics

These statistics are from a representative sample and warn us about an environment for teaching that has worsened. 81% of those surveyed indicate that teachers’ workload was increasing—they experienced increasing time spent on student mental health, they are spending more of their own money on classroom materials and more of their own time getting students back on track after COVID-19 learning loss. Teaching is already hard enough and these stats are very concerning.

Future Teacher Policy Support

Education Policy changes in the future should direct their levers of support to help teachers do a better job of teaching and mitigate outside cultural influences that pull teachers away from their central role in creating a quality education for all students. Here are a few examples of policies that increase instructional quality and equity education for all students:

  • Reduce extra work for teachers
  • Increase their time away from classroom
  • Create this extra time as teacher collaboration
  • Increase project time for students focussed on their mental health
  • Fully fund classroom materials needed, including materials for all students
  • Hire part time tutors to catch students up from learning loss
  • Solve the hiring crisis so that students have enough adults in their lives at school

These are not easy policy changes but they are desperately needed to alleviate the current crisis set off by COVID-19. Student health has suffered, and teachers are suffering along with their students. Let’s figure out how to help support what teachers need in the form of reducing the loss of learning, increasing teacher and student mental health and improving the equality of instructional excellence.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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