Time To Address Teacher Morale

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

We know psychologically that there is a connection between feeling of self-worth and actions. When teachers lose hope in their career, eventually they change the direction of their own future and in turn it impacts the future of our children. If you are an educator or have friends who are educators, you have undoubtedly discussed teacher morale in public education and thoughts on the future of education. Sadly, those thoughts were most likely negative. Educators who enter the field are often bright-eyed, confident, and enthusiastic. Teacher turnover is continuing to climb higher, yet those entering the field is going lower. What happened? That is the problem we must solve.   

Teacher turnover holds back our schools and our students. How do you improve morale? It will take multiple strategies, which differ from community to community, district to district, school to school. Let’s look at four of the most prominent issues: educator compensation, lack of respect for educators, testing and out of control students.

Educator Compensation. Compensation is everything that is provided to the educator for their services. Compensation alone will not impact teacher morale. Governor Bill Haslam made teacher salaries a priority, and should be recognized for his efforts. It is debatable if dollars allocated for salary increases reached all classroom teachers. This may be attributed to district implemented pay plans. Educators should be involved in the development of those plans. Governor-elect Bill Lee indicated he intends to develop a pipeline of well-trained, highly compensated educators who can flourish in the teaching profession. This will likely include incentive compensation programs, together with stipends, and associated benefits that are based on professional employee performance that exceeds expectations. Compensation can also be used to aid in hiring, and/or retaining highly qualified teachers for hard-to-staff schools and subject areas. 

Lack of Respect for Educators. Teaching, a profession once held in high esteem, is being de-valued both by stakeholders and policymakers for a variety of reasons. Teachers, who are on the frontlines of parental dissatisfaction with the system, are often made scapegoats by people who have lost trust in the system. This lack of respect is reflected by lack of parental support and engagement. In fairness, some parents are supportive and work with educators to help ensure their children get the best possible education. Yet more often than not, parents simply blame the teacher for the problems at school. But even more than that, teachers often lack the support of their administrators, district, and even the state. Bureaucrats keep piling on more requirements of educators with barely a nod of appreciation. Teachers, above all other professions, deserve the recognition and gratitude of a job well-done. Doing so on a regular basis will be a small step toward improving the teacher turnover rate.

Testing. The testing culture has killed the enthusiasm of many educators. Nobody would object to testing that benefits the teaching and learning process of students. As it stands currently, the data is not received in a timely manner and the results yield little or no benefit to the students. Educators would welcome a robust, practical solution to current assessment issues. A portfolio-based assessment model is also problematic. However, it may be a preferred model of student evaluation if it is not too time-consuming. It is based on a wide range of student work done over a long period of time, rather than on a single, paper-and-pencil test taken over a few hours. We must work to ensure that our assessments and the subsequent results are empowering and informing without being a time drain. Assessments should not inhibit quality instruction but provide accurate feedback for educators, parents, and students. Most importantly, assessments should be not used a punitive measure against teachers. 

Out of Control Students. Effective educators consider the root causes of misbehavior and develop appropriate solutions on a consistent, ongoing basis. However, some students need attention and intervention beyond the scope of what a classroom teacher can provide. It is imperative that a school and district adopt policies that support effective classroom management, as well as student instruction for all students. One possible policy has to be a better tracking of the time an educator has to spend on discipline issues. Do parents have the right to know, for example, if one student disrupts their own child’s education so frequently, they lose instruction time? School districts must balance their responsibilities toward the community with the responsibility to nurture students. Without discipline, students cannot learn. Students themselves must respect rules and authority regardless of underlying disabilities/issues. Districts must have policies in place that protect all students’ right to learn. 

There is no one size fits all strategy that will work in every school or district. This is a recurring theme among those who believe in local control in public education. Together, we can work to address teacher morale issues. Once a plan is in place, it is very important to examine, evaluate, and adjust as necessary. 

JC Bowman
Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

Rep. Travis: Weekly Legislative Wrap

Keep The Electoral College - And Response (2)


We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone ... (click for more)

Sergeant Baker Bill Passes In The House This week, House Republicans approved House Bill 258, known as the Sergeant Baker Act. This initiative removes the intermediate appeal to the ... (click for more)

In 1950 there were 12 urban areas in the United States that had one million or more citizens. In 2010, 41 had more than one million in population and this number is projected to grow to 53 by ... (click for more)


Opinion

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone number. We do not post the contact information, but need it for verification. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues ... (click for more)

Rep. Travis: Weekly Legislative Wrap

Sergeant Baker Bill Passes In The House This week, House Republicans approved House Bill 258, known as the Sergeant Baker Act. This initiative removes the intermediate appeal to the court of criminal appeals in death penalty cases and provides for automatic direct review by the Tennessee Supreme Court for convictions for which a death sentence is imposed. Additionally, ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Worker At Western Sizzlin Restaurant At Ooltewah Diagnosed With Acute Hepatitis A; Persons Who Ate There March 10-20 Urged To Get Vaccine

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department officials confirmed Friday that an employee working at the Western Sizzlin Restaurant, 6021 Relocation Way, Ooltewah, has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A. The restaurant employee worked at the restaurant while contagious March 10-20. Persons who ate at this restaurant during these dates should get vaccinated with the hepatitis ... (click for more)

Bankston Favors Sewage Consolidation; Eyes Sewage Plant In East Ridge; Boyd Says Ooltewah Residents To Go Back To "Chamber Pots And Outhouses"

County Commissioner Chester Bankston said consolidation of the city and county sewer programs "is the number one answer for our sewage problems." "It's the best answer for our taxpayers and ratepayers," said the commissioner who serves on a committee of Ooltewah area residents looking into the sewage issue. The panel is set to give its recommendations to officials of the Hamilton ... (click for more)

Sports

Ooltewah Invitational: Grissom's Tate Stifles Owls 7-2 With 14 Strikeouts

Grissom baseball coach Travis Tate saw his Tigers attack Ooltewah pitching on Friday and it wasn’t anything he hadn’t seen from other teams in Alabama’s Class 7A baseball over the years. “Batters in our league are aggressive, but we’ve been on an offensive skid lately because we’ve taken too many pitches early in the count,” Tate said. “We don’t want bad takes. If we get good ... (click for more)

Prep Baseball: Chargers Slip Past Trojans, 4-3, In Ooltewah Invitational

Versatile senior John Rhodes can impact a baseball game in multiple ways. Thursday’s Chattanooga Christian game against host Soddy-Daisy in the Ooltewah Invitational was a perfect example. Rhodes started his team’s scoring in the first inning and ended it with alert baserunning in the seventh as the Chargers came away with a 4-3 victory over the Trojans. “Baseball is a ... (click for more)