Students are headed back to school in the coming weeks, but there’s a nationwide teacher shortage. The reasons are plenty: low pay, long hours, burnout, and a lack of support. How to fix this crisis would be the topic of many blogs. But the reality is teachers are leaving the classrooms in droves, and they are bringing expertise with them. I spent 6 years in the classroom and not only was it the hardest job I’ve ever had, but I also honed practical skills in a way that I hadn’t in 20 years as an HR practitioner.
1. Teachers are learning experts
Teachers have extensive backgrounds in the theories of knowledge acquisition and retention, as well as practical skills in structuring learning objectives and modes to achieve these objectives. They master LMS and collaborative technology to maintain their lesson plans and materials.
2. Teachers are communication experts
The job of teaching is conveying ideas effectively. Teachers know how to leverage methods to appeal to multiple stakeholders with the right message at the right time and with the right tone. Plus, their grammar is impeccable.
3. Teachers are skilled project managers and program administrators
In a given year, I had 172 days of lesson plans multiplied by the 3 subjects I taught in a year. There were (at minimum) 32 graded assignments and 14 tests in a year for 170 students. Managing all of that does take more than a full time job. In order to survive, a teacher must be skilled at trigae, extremely efficient and organized.
4. Teachers have high degrees of emotional intelligence
Teaching is not transactional, it’s relational. Teachers have to know when to flex because students are not grasping a concept, give grace because a student is struggling with personal issue, and challenge when students aren’t giving their best. They are experts at monitoring quantitative and qualitative outcomes and giving feedback.
5. Teachers are problem solvers
Exhibit A: Covid. Teachers went on spring break in 2020 not knowing they wouldn’t enter their physical classrooms again for months. Teachers pivoted on a dime to create remote learning systems that preserved as much normalcy as possible–figuring out how to have discussion sections on Zoom, learning new technology to connect with kids virtually, and adopting new strategies to achieve the learning outcomes as best they could.
Teachers are this and so much more–they are jugglers, negotiators, includers, mentors, coaches, and learners. If you don’t hire one, at least hug one.