Solutions to the Teacher Shortage



Tane Jeffs, Staff Reporter

Across America there is a teacher shortage as many teachers are leaving the job because of the pandemic, the politicization of the profession, and low pay. More than half of the schools surveyed by the Department of Education report being understaffed.  Areas most critically affected are elementary schools, middle schools, and special education.

Responding in Virginia, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed an executive directive with strategies to hire retired teachers and ways to make it easier for people to have teaching certifications. 

One of the ways for the nation to end the shortage is to have better appreciation for teachers and all they do. Teachers are the ones that make a difference in the lives of children, who are the future generation. Not anyone can just walk into a classroom and teach; it takes a whole lot to be a teacher.

Powhatan High School Spanish Teacher Christian Miller feels that teachers are not fully understood for what they go through. “It’s not just the 8:00 to 2:30 work day. There are after school sports, clubs and activities.” Miller believes that  “teachers can share more about what they do” for society to have a better understanding. Teachers have a lot of empathy for their students, but as a society we should have more empathy for teachers.

Miller’s AP Spanish class. Photo by M. Ward

Having better school environments provides a better life for teachers and students. Teachers can build a stronger connection to their students. In Miller’s class his phrase is ¨Somos Familia,¨ which translates to ¨We Are Family¨ in Spanish. Miller believes the “best atmosphere is family; one of love and caring.¨ If there is a tight knit class that acts more like a family, teachers would feel the care from their students.

English teacher at Powhatan Middle School Bucky Webb says “the biggest misconception that people say to me is they think we [teachers] just work school hours and then we just have the rest of the day to ourselves.” He believes that it is important to “share with them a day in the life of a teacher.” His goal is “continued parental support and [to] work together in the common goal in making the student successful.” If parents realizes they have the same desire for the benefit of their child, they are more likely to have a better value on teachers.

To help provide a better experience for everyone in his classroom, Webb uses humor a lot. He likes it because “it helps drop the stress and the worry.” Less stress is better for mental health and an all around better experience for a teacher and students. The thing about humor that Webb likes is it helps to build a better connection to his students.” Webb wants to make sure his students “know that I care and that I’m there.” He thinks humor is one thing that “brings us all together as we learn.”

To have what is best for everyone at schools, it is important to create connections with people of love and caring, while also making some jokes along the way. It is also important for teachers to share their perspectives so that society can understand the experiences they go through, which can connect us even more. Less teachers will quit because they will love their job more and students would feel more connected to the school and world that we live in. Better understanding and connection means that we will finally be able to truly admire this hard profession.