The teaching profession is a highly noble and respected one. In fact, teachers are pedestalised and worshipped, and it cannot be argued that they deserve all this reverence and recognition. After all, they are the ones who fill the young and gullible minds with brilliant thoughts and ideas, and then nurture these thoughts until the child grows into a self-dependent young adult.
Unfortunately, the teaching profession today is not as diverse as it used to originally be, and a lot of great and passionate educators are leaving the profession with each passing day. In fact, a lot of young people are avoiding this profession altogether. Gone are the days when young people aspired to grow up and become a teacher and a role model for all others: they are happier with alternative but less satisfying jobs nowadays.
What could possibly be the reason behind this drastic shift in ideologies and perceptions? Why are excellent teachers becoming indifferent to high school needs?
Here are a few facts that might help in detecting the problem.
In the US, new teachers earn an average of $36,000, while the average salary for all teachers comes out to be a little over $58,000, which in today’s economic terms is even lower than the average salary during the 1989-1990 academic year. Statistics also reveal that teachers are able to earn only 60 per cent of what similarly educated professionals are earning!
It is thus apparent why this low pay model for teachers is forcing them to quit their jobs, and earn their livelihood from other sources. This low teacher pay is however not the only reason that triggered this change. Disinterest in the teaching profession arises from multiple other sources as well. Firstly, new teachers often feel unprepared to manage a classroom all by themselves after they graduate from their preparation program and enter the class as a full-time teacher for the first time in life. New teachers should thus receive some or the other kinds of support in order to gain additional learning and better manage the class. Teacher residency models, which are quite similar to what takes place in the medical profession, are a wonderful solution to this issue. Such programs provide teachers with the opportunity to experience what managing a class on their own would be, and teacher candidates are required to spend a portion of their time delivering lessons to students under the guidance of a mentor teacher. The mentor closely observes the teacher candidate, and offers feedback on how the latter delivered the lesson, and how he/she was able to manage the classroom. Similarly, an induction period allows new teachers to learn and grow better by providing them the help of a more experienced mentor teacher. When teachers receive these kinds of training, they feel more confident to enter into this profession, and, in fact, they even look forward to teaching a class all by themselves.
As far as the economic aspect is concerned, it is suggested that teachers should begin their career with a minimum $50,000 as their annual base salary, and as they become more experienced with an excellent track record, they should have the opportunity to earn at least $100,000 annually.
It is no surprise that teachers who are either not paid professionally or are not adequately trained to teach would opt to walk out of their profession. Especially those young people who are highly ambitious may even never consider teaching as an option because the profession is believed to earn an individual a very flat salary. Moreover, the professional work environment will never match that of other careers. This is because teachers have very less flexibility in their schedules as compared to other professions. They have to often pay for their own supplies, and do not even get the time to interact and socialize with their colleagues.
It is high time now that the huge gap between the earnings of the teaching workforce and other professionals with the same level of education be reduced, and this can only be done when the federal and state policy makers implement certain changes at the legislative level. If one wants to ensure that high-quality and passionate teachers enter this profession, and that the field is able to retain such talented individuals, the necessary steps will have to be taken. All educators would have to be trained properly, and then compensated like other professionals are. Moreover, teacher residency programs, clinical preparations and induction programs should be further expanded to improve the skills of the teachers; and thus by extension, also increase the knowledge of the students.
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