Recruitment & Retention

6 Insights on Teaching Shortages

By Apoorvaa Mandar Bichu — June 16, 2022 3 min read
Image of a spotlight on a person.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers have had to make a major shift during the pandemic, with many citing symptoms of burnout and depression.

They’ve faced challenges such as increased workload, insufficient pay, a lack of communication, and not feeling respected, according to Ava Tasker-Mitchell, the assistant superintendent of schools/instructional director for Prince George’s County Public School in Maryland. And those challenges have played heavily into the teaching shortages faced now by school districts nationwide.

Tasker-Mitchell spoke about ways to tackle increasing teaching shortages across the country at Education Week’s “A Seat at The Table: Staffing Issues Are Not New. What Do We Do for Next Year?” webinar earlier this week. Moderated by Education Week opinion blogger Peter DeWitt, the event also featured guest speakers Stacy Ruben-Storey, the principal of Spencer Elementary in Oklahoma City, and Education Week staff writer Madeline Will.

Here are six observations about teaching shortages to take away from the discussion:

  1. The pandemic is affecting teachers’ mental health and job satisfaction.

    Morale plummeted during the pandemic, with many teachers feeling a lack of time and increased pressure, according to Will.

    An EdWeek Research Center/Merrimack College national survey released in April 2022 found teachers’ satisfaction levels at an all-time low, with only 12 percent of teachers claiming to be very satisfied with their jobs, and more than 4 in 10 teachers saying they were very likely to leave the profession within the next two years.

    While tackling the lack of pay is necessary to help teachers, there is also a need to provide them with opportunities that make them feel respected and part of the decisions in the workplace, according to Tasker-Mitchell.

  2. Teachers have uneven, and sometimes unexpected, workloads.

    Teachers experienced disparities in the challenges they face during the pandemic with increased prep workloads on teachers who are “self-contained” [and] “teach every subject” as opposed to teachers who teach one or two subjects in depth, said Tasker-Mitchell.

    For newer teachers, there’s also a disconnect between what teachers are taught to expect while studying to become educators and the reality of what they face in the classroom, Ruben-Storey said.

  3. The use of virtual teachers to combat the shortage has its pros and cons.

    One of the solutions proposed to overcome the teaching shortage is the use of virtual teachers, where teachers livestream into the classroom and teach students through a screen. Besides offering a potential Band-Aid for shortages, it could also help students learn skills such as Mandarin and coding in communities where they may not otherwise have access to such expertise, according to Will.

    She said some pitfalls of using virtual teachers are that companies often deploy them in high-poverty schools where students are already at an academic disadvantage, and that virtual teaching may keep students from benefiting from the kind of student-teacher relationships that come with in-person instruction.

    Additionally, a lot of the time, virtual teaching requires an aide to be in the classroom with the students, which suggests it’s not always cost-effective.

  4. Teaching needs to be recast in more positive terms.

    “We need to change the narrative around education,” said DeWitt. “There is a lot of negative rhetoric around education.” This reframing needs to apply to both teaching and administration, he added.

  5. Principals are key.

    Principals can play a role in creating a positive environment and working with teachers, said Ruben-Storey, who said it’s not just about finding teaching staff but also supporting them.

  6. There is still hope when it comes to recruiting and retaining teachers.

    Tasker-Mitchell discussed her Maryland’s initiative to recruit and retain teachers through the Maryland Blueprint project, which will focus on diversifying and recruiting highly qualified teachers and providing them with the opportunity for increased pay.

    Summing up, Will noted the possibility that any teacher exodus may be smaller than anticipated. “Experts say all of the teachers who say they’re going to leave, they might not actually leave,” she said, “so I think there’s still a chance to keep them in the classroom, and work with them, so hopefully we won’t see as big of a drop.”

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Emergency Certified Teachers: Are They a Viable Solution to Shortages?
Emergency teachers are in bigger demand than ever. Can states and districts make smarter use of them?
6 min read
Three hands, each holding a certificate against a caution (yellow and black) striped background.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and Getty
Recruitment & Retention Contractors Are Filling Staffing Gaps in Schools. Know the Benefits and the Drawbacks
Schools turn to private companies for help filling positions with no local job candidates. It can be costly, but some say it's a big help.
7 min read
Conceptual illustration of district substitute being directed to a school in need
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty
Recruitment & Retention The Latest Perk Schools Are Using to Attract Teachers: 4-Day Weeks
The pros, the cons, and the unknowns of a shorter school week.
8 min read
Illustration of calendar on teacher's desk with days falling off.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty images
Recruitment & Retention Push Is on to Grow and Nurture Latino Teacher Pipeline
Latinos for Education has created a new advisory council to better inform federal policies on hiring and retaining more Latino educators.
3 min read
Teacher Classroom Latina 1210604340
JohnnyGreig/E+