A friend of mine is a teacher in Chesapeake, VA public schools. Last week, they posted a “staffing update” of current vacancies in the school system:
- 23 Elementary teachers
- 19 Middle school teachers
- 24 High school teachers
While vacancies during the pandemic are not surprising, these staffing shortages existed long before the pandemic. Similarly, a number of school systems around the country, are adding ‘holidays’ during the school year to address the ‘stress’ / ‘burnout’ levels of the teaching staff. Again, while stress/burnout levels are high during the pandemic everywhere, these problems with teacher ‘stress’ / ‘burnout’ have been an issue for years (decades) for K-12 teachers.
The ‘solutions that have been offered in the past have all been individual-level interventions: (a) better self-care, (b) teachers need to be more committed, (c) higher standards for teachers, etc. When these kinds of problems of staffing are found across decades, it’s clear that there is a systemic problem. What is needed is a redesign of the job itself – a change in the ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE of the K-12 school system.
The questions are as follows
You’ve been hired as a consultant to a K-12 school to help them redesign their organization to improve the working conditions for teachers. Describe how you would use the methods, research, and theory described in Chapter 14 to address this problem.
Given your understanding of the K-12 education system, and the theory and research discussed in Chapter 14 (and the entire course), what do you think the fix for K-12 will look like?