How the pandemic may have an effect on teacher shortages

Over the past year or so we’ve been seeing a nationwide issue concerning the lack of teachers in schools. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague America with new variants, some schools have begun switching between virtual and in person learning. As a result of this change, schools are beginning to suffer from teacher shortages. 

Although the biggest shortages have been seen in schools in the states of California, Nevada, Washington and Indiana, Parkdale is not immune to this issue. There have been teachers here at Parkdale who have considered quitting due to virtual learning. “I did look at becoming an entrepreneur while at home. I even explored some avenues but then I realized that I was too invested to leave the profession and start fresh,” an anonymous Parkdale teacher stated, ”Truthful moment- When the CEO announced we would be virtual back in December, my first thought was “I am about to quit. I can’t do this again.’”

Even though teacher working conditions were never excellent, COVID is likely what pushed many teachers to quit over the past few years. “People have relied for years on the fact that teachers have a love for teaching and for being with kids in order to make up for poor salary and hard working conditions, now many of them are feeling that’s not enough of a reason to stay” said Lisa Morrison in an article titled ‘How Covid Deepened America’s Teacher Shortages’.

Additionally, coming up with new ideas while keeping students engaged and working has also become a problem with virtual learning. “ It is difficult to learn math online because you have to write things out. You have to use appropriate math symbols. It’s too easy for some students to get distracted at home or just make the decision not to log in,” said an anonymous math teacher at Parkdale.

Furthermore, building a relationship with students and ensuring they are listening is also made harder with the pandemic. A majority of students don’t use their cameras while virtual, making teachers feel more like they’re talking to themselves rather than to a class of students and It’s especially hard for newer teachers.

 “If you began teaching within the last five years, you would not yet have mastered your craft before virtual learning.” says a Parkdale 11th grade teacher. “I can’t imagine learning a new curriculum, how to make the curriculum accessible to students, how to work with students, and how to stay on top of paperwork all over zoom calls. Many new teachers left.”

As a result,  teacher shortages are most abundant in math, science and foreign languages courses. With such a rapid decline in teachers all over America, administrators have been struggling to find replacements. Schools are in need of substitutes and the shortage has caused teachers to work overtime covering extra classes. A decrease in teachers can cause student learning to become impaired and this is an even bigger problem considering the shortages have a greater impact on high-poverty schools.