In 2013, the Global Teacher Status Index was established in an attempt to measure the value a country placed on professional educators. Twenty-one countries participated in the original scope of the index and, today, 35 countries are represented.
Teaching no doubt looks different in each country so the study focuses on four points: inspiration to become an educator; status of primary and secondary teachers and principals when compared to other professions; a teacher’s social status within the country; and the amount of respect students have for teachers.
The most recent index (published in 2019) reveals the top ten countries at both the top and bottom of the index. China took the lead in the No. 1 spot and Colombians indicated their country valued teachers the least.
The classroom teacher is the lynchpin between the children the district serves and the programs the district designs. The teacher must implement these programs and teach standards that prepare students for ultimate success beyond school. But today, the teacher has much more on her shoulders than teaching, especially when the pandemic is still ongoing.
Many governors and mayors are insisting students return to in person classes and have even threatened reduced funding if local school district’s don’t comply with state requests. Masks continue to be a point of contention as municipalities struggle to return to normal even though the percentage of vaccinated citizens is less than desirable. In Tennessee's Rutherford County Schools, 500 students were diagnosed with COVID within the first four days of school while 50 teachers also contracted the virus. And, in many of these very same districts, state leaders are limiting hybrid and virtual options. An attempt to represent normalcy seems to be taking its toll on the school and landing on the shoulders of our incredible teachers.
Our teachers have learned in short order how to use technology in ways they may have never used technology for teaching. They have had to support students who are losing parents and other family members daily and they are trying to provide as much stability as possible by focusing on the social and emotional needs of their students.
Districts are also addressing learning gaps as a result of these incredible challenges. Last school year districts received a bye on high-stake assessments that benefited teacher’s evaluations, but this year most districts are being directed to administer high-stake state assessments. The teacher’s role in the classroom has changed dramatically from 2018 to 2021 and it might be the biggest leap we’ve ever experienced.
How to Show Appreciation for Teachers
In the attempt to return to ‘normal,’ have we? Once upon a time teachers didn’t have to worry about becoming deathly ill and dying as a result of showing up for work. Before 2019, many teachers were using technology as an instructional tool but not a virtual learning tool. Before 2019, social emotional learning was something districts may be implementing in pilots with a select group of teachers taking on the responsibility for the school. Before 2019, teachers had classrooms with manipulatives and shared instructional materials for all students. As we begin this school year, everything about teaching and learning has to change and our teachers are the impetus.
No easy solutions but we can honor our teachers and value what they mean to our communities. As the 2021-22 school year kicks off, here are some ideas to show just how much a teacher means to your school, district, or community.
- Districts are implementing social-emotional learning for students but SEL for teachers is needed too! Consider implementing SEL support for teachers just as you do for your students.
- School boards and district administrators should reach out to the local communities to see if they would be willing to offer teachers discounts in their establishments. Some companies offer discounts nationally, including ATT offering teacher pricing and deals and even car companies offer discounts to teachers that can save as much as 5K on the purchase of a vehicle. Here is a list of more than 100 discounts teachers qualify for throughout the country, plus 5 ways to save on vacation.
- Principals can work with the district HR departments to offer flexible schedules to teachers or co-op options to teachers with children. Los Angeles USD took the lead on this initiative last year to support teachers with childcare issues.
- Teacher salary can’t be overlooked. Think about ways the school board can increase benefit packages or salaries, even in the midst of challenging budget years. This resource from Sanford University may prove helpful.
- Be loud and proud of your teachers! Celebrate teachers each and every day in person and virtually. Let them know they are appreciated and valued!
- If you see any educator out and about, thank them PROFUSELY!
The U.S. may not be top ranked in the Global Teacher Status Index but this is the time to make the effort to move up in our ranking and at least show up in the top 10.
Many thanks to our educators who showed up this year to explore new possibilities for students and families even though they are exhausted. Wishing you much hope for the year to be promising and bright.