Teachers: The Classroom Heroes

Rev. Kristie Selvidge   -  

Those who teach need our prayers now more than ever. Teaching is not for the faint of heart. The men and women who teach in our schools today face challenges that we can only imagine. All of us have been impacted by teachers in some way. We have been students, we have worked in schools in some capacity, we have been the teachers, or our children have been the recipients of the wise leadership of teachers.

I had some teachers that I absolutely loved growing up. I had some other teachers who I respected because they were adults but didn’t necessarily love as teachers. Today, things are different. Post-pandemic, things are different. The future of education will look very different from what we have all known if things don’t change.

In January of this year, we were having conversations with Rylan about how often he was in a study hall or sent to the gym for half or all of his school day. There was a substitute teacher shortage and they could not cover every class that had a teacher out. I made the decision to go through training and sign up to substitute teach 1-2 days a week. This allowed me to connect with students in our community. Substitute teaching also allows me to support teachers who were sick, in training, or just needed a break. I have made it my goal to encourage each teacher that I sub for. Some need more encouragement than others because they are teaching very challenging groups of students. Today alone, there were 27 teachers out of our building and only 11 substitutes to fill in the gap. This means other teachers will have to give up planning periods to cover the holes.

Let me share a few statistics that I researched. The Bureau of Labor statistics says there are over 500,000 fewer educators today than there were before the pandemic. Being in the schools weekly, this does not surprise me. According to another study, 80% of schools report stunted behavior and socio-emotional development in their students. There is a 56% increase in classroom disruption from student misconduct and 49% of schools report increased rowdiness in areas of the school other than the classroom. The things I witness in the classroom some days leave me scratching my head in wonder. Over 50% of those entering education leave the profession within five years.

From what I know of educator friends across the country, where I sub is not the easiest nor is it the most challenging. Our school would fall somewhere in the middle and the statistics above are absolutely true of where I am at. As I get to know teachers in our building, I learn that things like sleeping through class and not doing work are not new but they have exponentially increased since COVID shut our schools down. Larger numbers of students are sleeping through class and not turning work in. Students struggle to sit through an entire class and complete the necessary assignments. They are more comfortable talking back to teachers and will lash out because of an inability to process the emotions they are experiencing.

On top of the normal demands of teaching, teachers are trying to navigate these new post COVID classroom dynamics. They also have to continue to try to meet the high (and sometimes bizarre) expectations put on them by the education system as a whole. I have always thought this, but after being in the shoes of a lot of our teachers at our school, these teachers do not get paid enough to do what they do. The stress and pressure is extremely high and, let’s be real, some of them deserve double time for the classrooms that they face daily.

Our teachers are heroes, they invest in our future society as a whole when they teach our children and youth. They are not just teaching reading, writing, and math. Our teachers are teaching and helping to shape our children to be good humans all around. Some of them do a knockout job at this and others are near burnout. Regardless of where they fall on that spectrum, they are still responsible for a lot.

We need to lift them up in prayer. We need to speak life over them every chance they get. We need to ask God to give them the strength to carry on and not give up. We need their leadership and expertise and our students need teachers. Joshua 1:9 says, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Lord, help our teachers to have strength for each new day and any challenges it may bring. Give them courage to carry on even when they are tired. Remind them of the reasons they felt called to teach in the first place and renew their passion for teaching. Help them to have rest and give them space when they need it. Remind us to support them in word and in action and to show them we care.

With much love and respect from a mom and a substitute teacher,