Many children come to school hungry - they have not had breakfast, nor do they have a snack to eat. I often notice students who are wearing clothes that are too small, and not warm enough for the cold days. Several students take medication for anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and emotional disabilities such as "Oppositional Defiance Disorder". These students often come to school off their med.s and disrupt the classroom. Classroom size is usually 27-28 students per classroom where I teach, and the classrooms are just big enough to accommodate the desks, so there is no space for other activities the teacher might want to incorporate. Students are absent from school often - 3 students a day on average in my classroom. These are just a few of the challenges teachers face.
In response, teachers identlfy students who are hungry and get them food. Teachers identify students who are in need of clothing and get them clothes. Teachers communicate with families to find out why children are absent and if the families need help. Teachers use resources available, such as food pantries, counselors, and their own money to help children who are in need. Every teacher I know does these things all the time.
While trying to meet student's basic needs so that they are prepared to learn, teachers take classes (two college classes are required every five years), they attend workshops to learn new teaching strategies, and they meet with other teachers to plan exciting lessons. They do most of this on their own time.
So, to every teacher out there, You are amazing!!! You could be doing many other things, but you chose this field of work because you probably want to make a difference and you do every single day, despite the many challenges you face.
What needs to happen to improve education?
1. Smaller class sizes.
2. Larger classrooms.
3. Comfortable classroom environments (buildings are old- mildew, mold, poor circulation causing children and teachers to get sick and have poor air quality). My room gets above 80 degrees on hot days - hard to stay focused when you are uncomfortable.
4. Higher teacher pay and compensation for classes required. Teaching is not a job now that most people want to do - they will have to work another job during the summer, which is hard to find that pays decent, and there are so many challenges.
5. Offer parenting resources to help parents meet their children's basic needs, so they are prepared to learn.