A teacher's working conditions directly affects our ability to properly educate our children. These working conditions also affect the future of our country.
Working conditions are generally defined as the physical environment in which an employee is expected to complete his or her job. For teachers, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Teachers are often underpaid and under-supported in their need for educational resources for their students. Poor working conditions can lead to many negative issues for teachers and the students they educate, including depression, anger and lack of interest.
There are several common complaints from teachers about their work environments. Many don't have their own classroom or even their own desk to store materials. Those who do have their own classrooms often find that the facilities aren't adequate to handle their students' needs. Some don't have computers or Internet access in the classroom. Others don't receive sufficient benefit packages or training hours per year. Some schools don't even have libraries or playgrounds.
While teachers work toward improving our schools, parents and community members must get involved in helping to meet these goals. Striving to help improve our teachers' working conditions can significantly enhance our children's educational experience. Teachers who receive continuing-education classes and peer coaching and take curriculum development workshops are more likely to be happy in their jobs. Providing adequate classroom facilities and resources is also necessary.
The first point of contact for improving teacher's working conditions is the administration. Principals can sit down with their staff to find out what sorts of complaints teachers have about the working environment and produce a cohesive report. Some changes can be made at the school level, such as teacher empowerment, while others will have to be taken to the school's administration or the school board. Bigger changes can be made by involving your congressman.
According to Eric Hirsch, project director of The New Teacher Center at the University of California, there must be trust and mutual respect between staff and administration. Teachers need to work in an environment in which they can thrive, and where they are trusted to make certain decisions in regard to their classroom and curriculum. He says, "It comes down to leaders creating a clear and compelling vision around learning and really going to bat for teachers."
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