Going on nearly two years of COVID-19, filled with distance learning, quarantining and other unique situations, many have felt that the pandemic has taken a toll on the education system. But now, schools across the country have encountered a new challenge — ’The Great Teacher Resignation’.
At Park, this school year has seen the departure of several teachers so far. For biology and business teacher Katie Quattrini, the pandemic has played an extensive role in these staff absences.
“For people that have been in this industry a long time, it’s hard for them to see different ways to do things,’’ Quattrini said. “This is only my second year of teaching, so I’ve always done it in COVID-19. But if you’ve been doing it for a while, the difference in this school year (or) last year, versus the rest of them would be really stressful.”
After having multiple English teachers in the second semester, sophomore Mariana Morales said the ongoing transition has been difficult.
“It was a really big change going from having the same teacher a whole semester and then switching out of nowhere. ” Morales said. “It’s hard for students to keep up because all teachers have different ways of teaching. It’s hard for us to know the expectations of every new teacher.”
Echoing similar sentiments, sophomore Safa Ali said that having multiple teachers has created instability for students in the classroom.
“It’s been stressful because there is a sub(stitute), and when it comes to subs(titutes), (students) are really disrespectful and it’s hard to focus,” Ali said. “With the new teacher for next week, It’s weird because I’m not used to someone that’s a new teacher, when my (other) teacher just left the week before semester two.”
According to Quattrini, the lack of normalcy in the past two years has greatly impacted students’ education, only adding to the stress put on teachers.
“It’s been a harder transition for some of the ninth graders to transition back into high school than it is for non-COVID-19 freshmen,” Quattrini said. “I think that’s weighing on people, where it’s like, ‘I don’t know how to teach middle schoolers.’”
With Park at 100% capacity, according to sophomore Bajho Elmi, the risks of COVID-19 may be a factor for many staff members.
“They have to take care of their families at home and, if they have kids, they can’t be around a bunch of high schoolers and a bunch of people that will potentially give them COVID-19,” Elmi said. “They might accidently give it to close family that are at risk.”
Along with COVID-19, Ali believes other factors, such as poor staff pay and disobedient students have played a role in the influx of teacher departures.
“I think that’s it’s because of how teachers are not getting paid enough. I feel teachers deserve to get paid high because they teach us everything that we need to know in life,” Ali said. “The other reason is that it’s hard when a lot of classmates are not respectful to teachers. It’s hard for the teachers to work when they’re getting disrespected all the time.”
Even with all the negatives that come with her co-workers leaving, for Quattrini, the change to teaching biology this semester has been of benefit to her.
“It’s been really nice because my license is in biology — it’s my favorite. It’s nice to finally be teaching what I went into teaching to (be able to) teach,” Quattrini said. “So it’s been a good change for me personally — it’s affected me for the better.”
For Morales, the support system in schools is a key component in keeping educators and should be a focus.
“I don’t think our admin is giving our teachers enough support — COVID-19 has made teaching hard,” Morales said. “(Administration) being more supportive and helping them with what they need to be a successful teacher would be good.”
As nearly 50% of school districts nationwide struggle to fill full-time positions, Quattrini said that these issues are not isolated at Park, but instead show a greater flaw.
“This is happening everywhere, (and) it’s called the great resignation of teachers. They can’t find them anywhere, because everyone’s just leaving,” Quattrini said. “COVID-19 exposed a lot of weaknesses in the education system and now no one knows how to fix it.”