Without taking the time to unravel the complexities of the teaching profession, many may assume that teachers are people who enjoy working with children, and making a difference in their lives. While some teachers may be drawn to the summers off, or the winter and spring breaks, it is doubtful that such shallow incentives propel most individuals to come to or remain in the profession. By identifying the obstacles, it is possible to generate new contexts for practice, that can not only limit the challenges, but create conditions for teachers and students to thrive. This book shares ideas about what such changes could be like, how change could benefit teachers and students alike, and how it could influence a positive shift in society. Before addressing significant reforms in teacher practice, it’s important to outline what kinds of experiences make the teacher profession attractive to some and not to others. Taking a closer look at teacher’s stories, what drives them to stay and leave, what makes them feel empowered or not, and what makes them feel fulfilled in the role, is this starting point for further exploration.
Barbara J. Smith has a depth of experiences in education that include over four decades as a teacher, principal, teacher educator, school founder, and board member in public, international, independent and charter schools. Smith is committed to serious change in schools that improve both conditions for teachers and learners.
Introduction: Changing the landscape of teaching
Chapter 1: Pay Day
Chapter 2: Significantly reducing class size
Chapter 3: Time to polish, prepare and reflect
Chapter 4: Time to teach and learn
Chapter 5: Time for robust professional learning
Chapter 6: Reducing the volume of expectations
Chapter 7: Trusting teacher’s capacity to assess students
Chapter 8: Respect and recognition of teacher insight, action and creativity
Chapter 9: Teacher supports
Chapter 10: Meaningful mentorship and performance appraisal
Chapter 11: Family communication and interaction
Chapter 12: Ample access to resources
Chapter 13: Stunning and stimulating spaces
Chapter 14: Teacher leadership opportunities
Chapter 15: Health & safety
Conclusion: I want to be a teacher.
Barbara Smith can write from the perspectives of teacher, student, mentor, mentee, and school leader because she has BEEN all of those. I’ve taught for her, worked alongside her, been challenged by her…and she is a thinker who thinks from the beginning, not from the 80-metre mark. This book is at its core solutions-oriented. Rather than bemoan the statistics of teacher retention, let’s get to who those teachers…who each ONE of those teachers…really are and is. What do they need and want? What fires them up and excites them to the point that leaving isn’t even an option? Those drawn to teaching are precisely those drawn to impact and connection…and strategies here that prioritize their time, their learning, their energy…will keep teachers where they were originally drawn. There’s no shortage of extraordinary people wanting to teach; the shortage is of people willing to stay in teaching when their own priorities aren’t seen or acted upon.
This is the ultimate “how to” guide for making school systems great! With thirty years of teaching experience, I’ve come across plenty of books, professional development workshops, and abracadabra talks on how to make traditional education better. Barbara J. Smith’s TEACHER SHORTAGES and THE CHALLENGE OF RETENTION is far different than anything I’ve encountered. With its easy-to digest sections that map out fresh ideas, plans of action, and needed outcomes, I found myself cheering on each page and wishing someone had had the insight to share this information decades ago. But as this book states, it’s never too late to make schools great—and this book tells you how. Every person in the educational arena should read it.
Barbara Smith effectively captures many of the hurdles educators face as they weigh their commitment to stay in the profession. She balances a well-constructed analysis of each critical issue with examples that offer hope for a better future. Her challenging questions guide readers to reflect on their own situations. A close study of this book can provide a blueprint for your next strategic plan!
Barbara Smith displays a wealth of understanding of what it is like in schools now, and then takes the reader through the reasons for and the process of changing things for the better. Her real school examples are combined with research and presented in reader-friendly language. One of the best education books I've read and an excellent starting point for the educator wanting to make a difference.