Teachers should get support needed to keep going

Submitted by Edward Morrow
Posted 3/7/23

Dear editor:

Others who have taught in classrooms might agree that being a full-time teacher has always been full of challenges; some issues originating from lack of capable administrative …

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Teachers should get support needed to keep going


Dear editor:

Others who have taught in classrooms might agree that being a full-time teacher has always been full of challenges; some issues originating from lack of capable administrative leadership, inadequate induction training, inferior materials and facilities, over-loaded student class size, and poorly-led professional development for new teachers entering the calling as a teacher. And sometimes these unpleasant situations arose due to poor assignment processes that too often hinder the first-year orientation experiences during a teacher’s first five years in the classroom. 

First and foremost, the school administrator must make wise choices when selecting the new, probationary teacher’s first several assignments.

So what level of sensitivity to these and a load of other issues presently receive attention, even at the school district level?

After teaching full-time with a California Teachers Credential for K to 12, I saw some great leadership among veteran teachers, local teacher’s union leaders, parents, and administrators. However, it took a lengthy six or more months when I began my journey in my sixth grade assignment, before a veteran mentor teacher at my grade-level was permitted to come into my classroom [after I invited him to demonstrate some very basic instructional processes; crucial elements every teacher must employ in a classroom environment]. Up to that point I struggled to help students master course content.

Some might ask, “Didn’t you attend classes or seminars to learn those things?”

Yes, I attended many classes the first four years of my wonderful teaching career, but I did not gain enough practical skills to match the very demanding, individualized pedagogy required for promoting student achievement in a metropolitan school.

Over time, that on-the-job set of skills would develop gradually from observing other elementary teachers and administrators. 

I came to realize over time that the learning curve for new teachers often requires five or more years of experience, with actual classroom lesson planning and reflection, before an educator starts to feel adequately prepared and confident as a professional in their important instructional roles in a school.

Sadly, many who entered teaching when I did, quit after three years or were often caught in “reduction-in-force”cycles. Add those factors to some cases when a principal decided not to extend permanent status to probationary candidates without good cause, but for subjective, unfair reasons.

Bottom-line: Teachers who developed the passion for teaching early-on and put many extra hours and a substantial amount of their own money into teaching; primarily because they appreciated the unique opportunity to positively impact children’s lives, usually continued in their positions over an extended period in the workforce.

Now, here in Wyoming I didn’t experience a lot of support offered through the teacher unions. However, from my personal observations while working as a substitute teacher (with a Wyoming Teacher License), the administrators in Cody and Powell with whom I served, were totally professional and teacher-friendly. Plus, parents worked harmoniously with the school and reinforced school work in their homes. The school instructional routines were student-centered and definitely valued student achievement.

In Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) (with a United Teachers-Los Angeles Union contract), teachers faced low-socio-economic communities with parents working multiple jobs in order to survive . We teachers served “Breakfast in the Classroom” and provided extra personally-funded food throughout the day. We also made sure students with broken- home-related, self-defeating behaviors received prompt, compassionate attention from our professionals, who augmented our school staff.

With all that said, individuals who are considering a teaching career in K-12 classrooms should join the ranks of devoted, heroic teacher ranks, only if they possess a healthy love of children. 

Teachers who hang in and don’t quit, despite the tremendous amount of daily stress and low-pay, often reinforce the best personal development qualities in their family of students that I believe reasonable citizens in our society often admire and seek after in our precious youth.

As a retired (20 year) U.S. Air Force veteran, I appreciated my 22 years I spent as a classroom teacher in a bi-lingual school in South Los Angeles and in local schools. I willingly endured the minimum of unpleasant times along with the many good times while serving students.

(Note: It was my second work-related calling I accepted over the life span of my working years. I willingly served in the military and as a classroom teacher. I was hired through the “Troops to Teachers” and LAUSD Intern programs.)

Edward Morrow