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At a Breaking Point: Addressing Teacher Retention and Shortages

At a Breaking Point: Addressing Teacher Retention and Shortages

Date of the Event: April 19, 2022 | Maya Baum, Kyair Butts, Lynnette Mawhinney, Brianna Ross, Vanessa Williams, Tyreece Woodly, and MAEC's Daryl Williams as facilitator
Show Notes:

School districts across the United States are experiencing a teacher shortage crisis. Qualified teachers, especially teachers of color, are leaving the profession at record rates nationwide. As part of MAEC’s Reflecting, Reimagining, and Reforming Education series, MAEC was joined by a panel of education scholars and practitioners to discuss the systemic factors that have been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and created unsustainable environments for teachers to succeed, and identify solutions to support teacher retention.

Nikevia Thomas:

If you’re just joining, welcome to our At a Breaking Point: Addressing Teacher Retention and Strategies webinar. We have an amazing group of panelists joining us today for this topic. As you’re coming in, we invite you to who type your name and where you’re coming from today, and what you hope to learn about this issue.

Brandon says, “I hope to get a bigger and b...

Nikevia Thomas:

If you’re just joining, welcome to our At a Breaking Point: Addressing Teacher Retention and Strategies webinar. We have an amazing group of panelists joining us today for this topic. As you’re coming in, we invite you to who type your name and where you’re coming from today, and what you hope to learn about this issue.

Brandon says, “I hope to get a bigger and better picture of just how challenging it is for educators right now, especially those invested in civil rights and DEI work.” Well stated. Anybody they else who would like to share what they hope to learn today?


Marilyn from New Jersey says, “I hope to learn the characteristics critical to successful recruitment of Black and Brown teachers into the profession.” Aisha says, oops, it moved too fast, “I hope to learn how to help schools better support teachers of color to not only recruit, but retain, how to work smarter with the challenges we face. As an equity lead, I am hoping to learn strategies to recruit and retain diverse teachers.” Lily says, “I hope to learn strategies and policies to enact to support and to retain teachers.”

This is all great stuff and I would love to read more, but we have to move forward. Will you please go to the next slide, Ian? Thank you so much. Again, welcome. This is MAEC’s At a Breaking Point: Addressing Teacher Retention and Shortages webinar.

Will you please go to the next slide? Thank you, Ian.

We have some webinar etiquette that we use. Please use the chat box to engage with other participants, as you’re doing right now. We recommend that you click on the chat icon at the bottom or the top toolbar of your screen. We do not use the Raise Hand function, but we are using the Q&A function on our webinar. If you have a question for our panelists, you can please put it in the Q&A section and we will work to get that answered for you.

Next slide please. Thank you.

We also have live captions for our webinar too. Live captions should automatically show up on your screen by default. To turn them of, you would use the webinar controls at the bottom of your Zoom window to select the Live Transcript or Closed Caption button and then select Hide Subtitles. To view them again, repeat step two and select Show Subtitles instead.

Next slide, please. Thank you.

Our agenda for today is that we’ll do welcome and introductions. We’ll hear the teacher’s voices. We will reflect on what’s causing the teacher shortages and retention issues, we’ll reflect on what has been the impact of teacher shortages. We’ll reimagine and look at what would teachers like to see, and then we’ll reform in how do we move forward. We’ll have a Q&A, an audience Q&A, and then we’ll have a closing.

Next slide, please.

It takes many hands to put together a webinar, and I would like to introduce you all to our webinar support team. We have Jordan, who is a communications intern working on the chat box for us. Ian, who is the evaluation intern, and he will be working on the operation and tech support, he’s advancing the slides. Then we have Marianna, she is a content specialist here at MAEC and she will be our social media support. She will be live tweeting parts of our discussion today on Twitter. Then there’s me, my name is Nikevia Thomas. I’m a senior specialist and I am the virtual event planner at MAEC.

Next, we can meet our facilitator. We have with us Daryl Williams. Daryl is the associate director for the Center for Education Equity, or CEE, and that is a project of ours. Then I would like for you all to meet our panelists. We have Lynnette Mawhinney, Vanessa Williams. Let me back up. Lynnette Mawhinney is the chair of the Department of Urban Education and the associate professor of urban education at Rutgers University Newark. We have Vanessa Williams, who is the program manager for the DC area Educators for Social Justice, a project from Teaching for Change. We have Brianna Ross, who is a teacher at Baltimore County Public Schools, she is also the 2022 Maryland Teacher of the Year. We have Kyair Butts, who is a teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools, who was the 2019 Baltimore City Teacher of the Year. We have Maya Baum, who is a teacher from the District of Columbia Public Schools. Then we have Tyreece Woodly, who is a teacher from Montgomery County Public Schools.

Now, I will pass it to Daryl, who will take it from here.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you, Nikevia, and good afternoon to everyone who is part of this webinar series today. We just want to thank you so much for your participation, for your interest, and for your commitment to education for all children, and particularly for our Black and Brown students.

My name is Daryl Williams and, as it was shared, I am the associate director for the Center of Education Equity at MAEC. I’d like to thank the MAEC team. We’ve got a fabulous team that does a great job to support all of our work and just to give their expertise to elevate all the work that we’re doing. As you can see, our motto is, “A champion of innovation, collaboration, and equity,” and we are the Center of Education Equity.

Let’s go to the next slide.

I’m not going to read everything that’s on the slide for you, but I’ll tell you a little bit about MAEC, Inc. We are an organization, an agency, that has been in existence for over 30 years, focusing our work on the mission of students having equitable opportunities to learn and achieve at high levels. Hi, Alicia, I see you checking in. Our mission is to promote excellence in equity and education to achieve social justice. You can see a list of our core values as well as the area of our work, around excellence, equity, integrity, innovation and synergy. Then some of the focus areas, we really do have a real firm hand in with English learners, with educational equity, with leadership, we didn’t put leadership up there, leadership development, building leadership capacity for equity.

Let’s go on to the next slide please.

Who are we? The center itself is a project under MAEC. We are in partnership with two organizations, WestEd and the American Institutes of Research. We are one of four equity assistance centers funded by the United States Department of education. Our work comes under Title IV the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Really, the foundation of our work is around civil rights, civil rights in education. Our work really is detailed in the assistance and support for school districts in 15 states and territories.

We’ll show you on the map exactly where our work is encompassed. You can see, we work, again, with school districts, state departments of education, in a 13 state and two territory region. If you look at the left bottom of that map, you’ll see the state of Kentucky, then West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine. Who did I miss? New Hampshire. Those are the 13 states in the Northeast region. We also work with state departments and school districts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Whereas Georgia, Georgia is in another region. However, I am speaking to you from Hampton, Georgia, just south of Atlanta. It’s a pleasure to welcome all of you from many, many parts of the country. Particularly for my ATL folk, hi, welcome.

The objectives for our webinar today is to identify factors that have contributed to teacher shortages, especially for teachers of color. Chuck says, “I’m in Atlanta and with like more information.” Hampton is south of the airport, Chuck. We’re about 30 miles south of the airport in Clayton County. Our second objective is to discuss the impact teacher retention issues have on students, and third, explore strategies that will address how to support teacher retention. Thanks, Chuck, we’ll be in touch.

We are going to begin our conversation here talking about teacher voice. We’ve already had an introduction to our panel. Hi there, Sheree, from Somerset County, good to see you. We’ve already had a brief introduction, let me just tell you a little bit about each of our panelists before we actually get started. First of all, I’d like to just share a little bit about … Give me a second so I can navigate my screen a little bit better. All right, here we go. I’m going to start with just briefly sharing a little bit about Maya for you.

Maya is an elementary school teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools, as an educator who roots her work in the principles of social justice and community care. Maya has a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Clark University. She obtained that in 2015 and has been teaching in the District of Columbia since. She’s taught in both charter and public schools, currently teaching fourth grade in the district. In addition to being a classroom teacher, Maya is also a teacher fellow with Empower Education, a nonprofit group in the district, in DC, focused on ensuring teachers’ voices are included in education policy and in the district. Maya focuses as a fellow and has done this work in re-imagining policies to limit the power of standardized testing in education. Boy, that’s a conversation we can have a whole lot of conversation about, limiting the power of standardized testing in education. Welcome aboard, Maya.

Kyair Butts, the 2019 Teacher of the Year from Baltimore City. Go B’more, B’more in the house. I used to live in B’more, Kyair, and I worked for the Maryland State Department of Education in Baltimore City many, many years ago. Kyair teaches literacy at Henderson Hopkins Partnership School and is a teacher leader in Baltimore, creating and facilitating district professional development while also mentoring young and new professional educators. He has been featured in various education blogs and literacy podcasts for his work in urban literacy curriculum. Kyair is in his ninth year Baltimore City and continues to find joy in the classroom. I love a person with passion for children. Thank you, Kyair, for all that you do for the children of Baltimore.

Lynnette, associate professor and chairs the Department of Urban Education at Rutgers University in Newark. I have some friends that went to Rutgers in New Jersey. Okay, I love these connections. Dr. Lynnette is the associate professor, she’s affiliate faculty of the Department of African and African American Studies. She’s a former high school English teacher, love those English teachers, at the School District of Philadelphia. Over the last decades, she’s conducted teacher training in the United States, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, South America and Egypt. My goodness, you’re having an impact all over the world, Dr. Lynnette. We love that. Dr. Lynnette’s research focuses on the professional lives of urban teachers and pre-service teachers, with a special focus on teachers of color.

She’s the author or editor of five books. In 2020, Dr. Lynnette was the recipient of the American Education Studies Association’s Critic Choice Book Award for her book titled There Has to Be a Better Way: Lessons From Former Urban Teachers. She has a children’s book, Lulu the One and Only, and has received an acclaimed star Kirkus review. I think that’s correct, Kirkus review. The book also received an Noble Social Studies Trade Book Award by the National Council for Social Studies Children’s Book Council. Dr. Lynette, you are a shero, thank you so much.

Brianna Ross, woo woo, the 2022 Maryland Teacher of the Year. We love you. Brianna has forced a reputation of being a passionate student advocate, who views teaching as a revolutionary act of love. With a certificate in administration and supervision from Loyola University of Maryland, Brianna is pursuing a a doctoral degree in urban education leadership from Morgan State University. A former elementary school teacher, she now teaches sixth grade world history and serves as a social studies chair at Deer Park Middle School in Randallstown. Baltimore County in the house, I know a little bit about Baltimore County. As her school’s equity liaison, Brianna works to interrupt teacher biases and practices that perpetuate inequity while building teacher capacity to create inclusive classrooms. Brianna writes social studies curriculum that highlights more diverse perspectives, connects historical topics to current events, and encourages students to find solutions to real world problems. She was a New Leaders Council fellow in 2018 and worked with other change makers to identify progressive solutions for more sustainable and equitable future in Maryland. Brianna, Brianna, congratulations and thank you for being here.

Vanessa Williams. We must be related, I love those Williamses. Program manager for DC Area Educators for Social Justice at Teacher for Change. She has a MES and is a program manager for the DC Area Teachers for Social Justice. This is a project for Teacher of Change. She’s a student and practitioner for all things critical pedagogy, there go those eyes again, everybody knows, with a special appreciation for social studies. Vanessa develops her own curriculum in geography, history, civics, economics, was a middle and high school social studies teacher for six years, and serves as a writer and auditor of K12 social studies curriculum. Much of her work has wrestled with historical memory and narrative construction, and more recently, the ties between democracy and citizenship. Vanessa has worked and published for Education Post and has served on the Levine Museum corporate board, the New South Young Professional Council. Thank you for being a part of this opportunity here today, Vanessa.

Tyreece Woodly, middle school teacher from Montgomery County Public Schools. Well, I tell you, that Maryland representation is awesome. Montgomery County, one of the largest school districts in the United States, one of the most diverse school districts in the United States. Tyreece is a 10-year veteran educator who serves students at both the primary and secondary levels. In addition to teaching history, Tyreece also serves in the role of equity team leader, developing and facilitating staff professional development in areas of equity and cultural proficiency at Parkland Magnet Middle School in Rockville, Maryland. Tyreece has been an advocate and key contributor in the efforts to initiate and expand restorative justice, dedicated in expanding services beyond the walls of schools as he’s also been an integral part of system wide training and professional development for new and veteran teachers. He holds advanced degrees in both organizational psychology and teaching, as well as certification in educational leadership and administration. As much as he loves to positively impact the lives of young scholars, Tyreece cites being a husband, wonderful, and proud father, great, of two boys as his main calling. I tell you, that is an awesome testimony, awesome testimony.

Thank you to our panel. I just wanted to share with you a little bit about who they are and the great work that they continue to do, not only in the field of education, but in our communities. That bridge between schools and community is absolutely essential. With that, I am going to turn it over to our panel so that we can begin this awesome, awesome conversation.

Teacher voice, what causes teacher retention and shortages? I’m going to turn it over to Dr. Lynnette first.

Nikevia Thomas:

Actually, first, can we hear from the teachers? This in the Nikevia. Can we start with Brianna? Will you share your experiences?

Brianna Ross:

Sure, absolutely. That is a loaded question, so I’ll start from the personal. One of the first things I think about when I consider teacher retention is retaining teachers of color, and so I’m going to start from that personal local experience of being a Black woman. I became a teacher, I had very, very few Black teachers growing up. My very favorite teacher was my first teacher, Ms. Carruthers, who was my kindergarten teacher. I didn’t have another Black teacher again until I got to late high school. That’s why I became a teacher was, because I think it’s just so important for our Black students and our students of color to have people in the classroom who look like them.

Now that I’ve been in this, I’ve been a teacher, this year has brought a number of challenges. There are just so many things that we can talk about when we talk about retention, recruitment, both recruitment and retention, but one of the things that I’ve experienced as a Black woman, particularly with the dynamic of the way our country looks in the last three years, is this real experience around feeling this what is called racial battle fatigue and feeling like, as a Black woman, I’m carrying this work, especially shepherding this equity work on my shoulders. I think that is absolutely the burden sometimes of teachers of color, feeling like we’re carrying this work on our own, especially when you’re a teacher of color and a school where many of us exist in silos.

Some of the work that I’ve been doing recently is around how do we create [inaudible 00:22:19] of communities for teachers of color? Often we exist in our school building by ourselves and we’re doing this work on our own and there’s no one else in the building who looks like us. That part of the reason why it becomes much harder to retain our teachers of color, and so thinking about how can we create communities where teachers of color feel supported, where they have other teachers or other mentors or colleagues who look like them, who understand this work in the same way that they do.

The other side of this is then the side of COVID, which this year has been the most challenging year I have had as a teacher. There has not been any deeper battle than what I’m experiencing this year. Just to contextualize it a little bit, particularly around what our students are showing up with, just in the last year and a half, two years, about 140,000 children in this country lost a primary or secondary caregiver to COVID. There’s been a huge increase in the number of students who are experiencing mental health challenges. There’s been about a 31% increase in hospital visits related to suicidal ideation or suicide attempts, or just generalized mental health disorders. Students are showing up in the classrooms with all that, they’re carrying so much with them, and so then we’ve become tasked with providing not only the academic support, but also the social-emotional support. It has placed a huge burden on teachers. It has been hard when teachers are also dealing with their own mental health challenges, especially given the extreme isolation that we’ve all experienced in this last two years of the pandemic.

I think when we talk about retention and recruitment, we really need to think about what other supports are we providing for our teachers. We hear so much about self-care. I kind of hate that term, self-care, because what is that when you’re a teacher? If you’re a teacher here, you know that self-care sometimes feels like that’s not what I do. I think it’s really about thinking about how school districts and states and communities can really think strategically about what can we do to not only incentivize teachers, but also to our appreciation for what teachers are doing in the classroom in a real way, in a way that is really incentivized and not like, “There’s a little bag of popcorn on your desk.”

What can we do strategically for teachers to support them, to make sure, because we know that we do this work because we love it. None of us show up here for a paycheck, we only do this work because teaching, for many people, is heart level work. It’s heart level work for me, but it also is about how do we provide the right support so that our teachers are able to stay in the classroom, not because whether or not they want to stay, we all want to stay, but if we are able to stay, financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the classroom. That’s where I am around this issue right now.

Daryl Williams:

Great. Thank you very much, Brianna, for just eloquently presenting your voice and your understanding of the teacher retention issue. We’re going to go to Kyair at this point.

Kyair Butts:

Okay. Good afternoon, everybody. Good afternoon, good afternoon, good afternoon. I feel like there’s a lot of similarities to what Brianna was saying, and I think it’s because there’s this shared experience for teachers, and really educators, let me clarify. I think for me, I’m going to try to localize mine to just these I ideas around really love and faith. There’s going to be a little bit of background.

A lot of my experiences so far really, especially with love, is love itself, love for the classroom space, love for the city of Baltimore, love for the school, love for my kids, my students. That really does keep me retained in the classroom, that is a really good motivating factor for me. I’m motivated by love, I am inspired by it, and it’s why we show up, as Brianna was saying. My students, students are potent motivators to help contribute to my glass being full. As Brianna was pointing out, heart work, it is work worth doing. It’s heart work and it’s hard work. I think if you’ve been in a classroom or you’re familiar with education, it is both of those types of work.

The second lens that I wanted to look through in terms of retention and even recruitment is also faith-based, not necessarily maybe religious or spiritual, but I think that absolutely for sure it is both/and both/can be, but really it’s this idea of believing without proof. I don’t really know, or nor will I presume to know, where education is going to be in three years, 10 years, 30 years, but I think that part of it is always keeping the faith, having my faith in children, having my faith in their families, having my faith in leaders, like all of you who chose, to take this time and to learn more, and the panelists who are doing amazing work in the spaces and places that they occupy.

Love and faith really drive me. I lay this groundwork because, as Brianna was saying, this has been a difficult year. Last year was easily my most difficult. I was more veteran last year than I was my first year and somehow it was the shakiest. Students being away from the brick-and-mortar school, students physically not being in proximity to a teacher who loves, respects and admires them, issues at home. I can’t presume, nor will I assume, that every child went home to a caring environment where they were seen, heard, valued, loved. Also, issues around equity, techquity, this tech equity, and plenty of issues around race. All of those percolate and persist even this year, somehow, in 2022. That makes what we do very difficult.

This year I’ve really leaned into the heart work more than I ever have, restorative circles.

… have, restorative circles, one-on-one conversations with students, taking time out to just call and talk with families, inviting them into the school building and not letting COVID be a barrier, but finding safe ways to make that practice appropriate, but also consistent. Finding ways to make the already high quality instructional materials in the curriculum that I use, that’s here in Baltimore, finding ways to make that come alive for students, make those connections so that they can see themselves in the characters and in the texts, because at the end of the day, these are human conditions that we’re teaching. How to exist and be ourself and our highest possibility, that is what this is really about.

Going forward, it’s really a necessary condition that not only do districts really need to have high-quality instructional material, that should just be a given, but teachers also need those supports. They need legitimate ways to validate and value teacher mental health. This is what Brianna was talking about when she mentioned SEL. Mental health cannot, I’m going to say that again for the folks in the back, mental health cannot be the lip service by which we say and we do not do. Retention itself is a function of educators feeling supported, seen, heard, loved, valued, respected. I feel these things in the spaces and places that I occupy, but this is one person in one school. It’s a larger community of us out there, some of our colleagues, friends, who don’t feel the same way. There’s this inescapable feeling that this fall, that there will be classrooms that are teacherless. This problem of retention and recruitment is a you problem, it’s a me problem, it’s an us problem, which means that it’s also going to take an us-centered solution.

Some solutions. In my mind, we need to make anti-racism a platform, not just a platitude to score points. It needs to be the mission and vision of every school district to adopt an anti-racism platform, it has to be. Equitably distribute teachers across schools, especially when hiring new teachers and especially when hiring teachers of color, because I think that the research most certainly shows that when new teachers are hired, especially when of color, they are distributed and placed in the lowest performing schools with “the most challenging students”. A lot of times, teachers of color stay out of loyalty, however, loyalty, much like thoughts and prayers, isn’t enough to keep somebody.

Work to provide a pathway for professional development opportunities so that educators can both learn and have opportunities to lead. Provide high-quality instructional materials so that teachers feel supported in both the planning and the preparation process. If teachers are constantly fumbling and going to Teachers Pay Teachers to create and reinvent the wheel, that’s less time on task that we now can’t devote to making sure that our students are seen, heard, and valued, while also making sure that someone sees, hears and values us. High-quality instructional materials actually eases the burden and, in a weird sense, can retain and recruit more teachers when explained well and when teachers are better supported.

Finally, there’s this idea that there are a number of solutions for us, ultimately, that we could use that you might hear and that we’re going to talk about today, but at the end of the day, it’s about heart work and it’s about hard work. How do we make sure that we are in the classroom, that we’re seen and we’re heard, that the work that we do is and valued? We need districts to model the very hard and heart work that is expected of us every day. That’s how we can get better.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you, Kyair. There’s so much that I take away from what you contributed. I’m going to keep my focus on the heart work and the hard work. You asked a question, paraphrasing, about the future of education, where is it going? I think we’re beginning, you and your colleagues here on this panel are beginning to shape that narrative. I continue to encourage you to shape the narrative for what the future of education should look like for classrooms, for schools, for students, for communities. Thank you.

Let’s turn this over to Maya.

Maya Baum:

Hi, everyone. I’m excited to be here with these other amazing teachers today. When I think about teacher retention and teacher recruitment, echoing what Brianna and Kyair were saying, I think a lot of it comes down to how are we treating teachers and seeing teachers? Are we seeing teachers as professionals, people who are coming to do a job? Like it was said before, teachers don’t come here for a paycheck. We come here because we care about the work, we care about the students. We want to do it, we want to do it well, but it becomes really hard to do it well when all these external forces are telling us what to do.

I’ve been teaching now for seven years in DC. During those seven years, I’ve seen how our curriculum is becoming more and more standardized, the amount of standardized testing that our students have to do has increased every year. As many education scholars have noted, these standardized tests are racist. They are not an objective measure with which to measure student learning. We are creating racist structures in the classroom that we’re forcing kids to go through, and we’re forcing teacher is to put them through that. We’re not trusting teachers to be experts, to be professionals, in a field that we are all trained in.

When we come … so much ongoing learning and professional development, and we do it and a lot of teachers pay out of their own pocket. Again, I think a thing that makes unique from other professions is that we pay to do our job. We pay to educate ourselves more, we pay to fill our classrooms with materials, to make it a comfortable environment for students, to make it a comfortable environment for us. We show up every day. I mean, before here, we were all meeting and chatting and most of us didn’t even have time to eat our lunches. I mean, how many professions are there where there’s not time to eat lunch and … around to do this job that we care about so much.

The question isn’t how to make teachers care more or work more, but it’s how do we make the people outside of the classroom see us as professional, see us as experts in teaching, see us as experts in learning, as experts in children, and allow us to be those experts. But instead what’s happening, and especially since this pandemic has hit, there’s been a standardizing of education, trying to make it be a one size fits … work in a colleague’s class may not work in my classroom with my … I’m different, I’m not the same person as my colleague. My students are not the same people. As individuals, it’s different.

Oh, it’s looking like I’m having some internet connection. I’m still in the classroom, so I’m just going to turn off my video and y’all can just close your eyes and listen to my voice. It’ll be like a guided meditation over how we can retain and recruit teachers better.

If we want to retain teachers, we need to think of them as professionals, we need to treat them as professionals. Like my colleagues were saying, talking about mental health, it’s really stressful to come to work and to have your hands tied, not allowed to do what you know is best for the kids in front of you. Right now, my students are about to take the big standardized test, the PARCC test, in about a month. We had to have a really hard conversation about what our learning is going to look like for the next month. They were all upset, to put it mildly. They were frustrated that instead of our normal learning schedule, that we now have to do this test. A kid even said, “Ms. Baum, why are we doing this? We’re kids, we’re supposed to be having fun. We’re supposed to be playing, we’re supposed to be socializing, we’re supposed to be running around … forced to do this.”

It’s a really heartbreaking situation that teachers are being put in, because it’s not our choice. This isn’t what we want to do, this isn’t what our students need, but the people who are making the decisions aren’t listening to what teachers have been saying for decades. This isn’t new, this has been happening. Because of the pandemic, there’s now increase in controlling teachers and in telling them what to do and treating them like babysitters instead of the professionals that we are. Teachers are sick of it.

I mean, no one’s leaving because we hate it, but it’s this being forced situation and it’s heartbreaking. You come into this profession and you want to do it, this is what you see for your life. Having to come to terms with the fact of, well, it’s not that I don’t want to anymore, but it’s starting to feel like I can’t for the survival of myself. Nobody signed up to be a teacher to be a martyr, and that’s what’s being asked of us.

If we want to recruit teachers, we need to make it be enticing, meaning it … that is sustainable, it needs to be a job that teachers can survive and thrive in. If we want to retain them, then we need to treat them like professionals. We need to treat us like the humans that we are and like the-

Speaker 1:

I think we lost Maya.

Daryl Williams:

Again, we are having a little bit of technology issues for Maya. I’m going to see if she pops in, just give her a minute.

Maya Baum:

Oh, it was just suggested to turn the camera off to help with the internet connection.

Daryl Williams:

Do you want to continue, Maya?

Maya Baum:

Could you not hear any of the last bit thing?

Daryl Williams:

You actually went to mute, so I don’t think we captured the last things or what you were saying within the last 30 seconds, but you’re live now, so if you want to go ahead and continue.

Maya Baum:

Sure, yep. I was just finishing up by saying that I think if we want to retain and recruit, to make it a sustainable job and be where we are seen and treated as experts and as professionals.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you. My takeaways from what you shared, I like the guided meditation. Teachers often are demonstrating their professionalism by being flexible in the classroom, by making those adjustments to instruction and learning for all children. You just demonstrated the professionalism of the craft of teachers, to not allow a circumstance or a situation that may interfere with your opportunities to not only teach in the classroom, but teach us here on this call. We, as a community, have to understand the skill sets that teachers bring, the professionalism that you bring.

I agree with the sustainability and the opportunities to help teachers thrive, because they are thriving, they already are thriving, but we’ve got to recognize that and we’ve got to promote that and we’ve got to compensate that. Part of that is to elevate this profession to that higher level so that it is respected first and foremost. Thank you so much.

Let’s see. Tyreece.

Tyreece Woodly:

Good afternoon. Good afternoon, everybody. I’m Tyreece Woodly.

When I think of recruitment and teacher retention, when we first started to have this discussion, the first thing that came to my mind, of course, was money, that was what everyone talked about. That is the ongoing major issue, one of the ongoing major issues, when it comes to retaining teachers in this country. Oddly enough, just last week, around the time that we had a previous meeting among the panelists, there was an article by the New York Times that talked about a number of different states, Mississippi, Florida, New Mexico, maybe even Georgia I believe, that talked about giving significant salary increases for teachers. The article talked about how several of those, it was the largest increase that they’ve seen in decades, decades. That is a problem.

Then the second thing I thought about, again, along the lines of money, was I thought about the recruitment and retention bonuses that many people received in the state of Maryland, and I’m sure beyond. While of course I’m appreciative of that extra money, it’s always welcomed, but it made me think about corporate companies who try to counter an outside offer that you receive by giving you a raise that you should have received months or maybe even years prior to that. Again, while it’s needed, it’s kind of like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound, when you really look into the numbers and dig into the numbers, look at the disparities in terms of teacher pay.

My experience, while we can poll and talk to a hundred different educators and they may all have very different experiences in terms of what went on during the pandemic and the aftermath and how things went in their schools, I can say that generally my administration has been very supportive and does make real attempts to understand the struggles and needs of its teachers. I really think that that’s one of the biggest things, second biggest things, in terms of retaining and recruiting teachers.

Furthermore, I think that administrators of school districts at large need to be a lot more intentional in terms of collaborating with one other, not just in terms of sharing curriculum resources and things like that, but what are some best practices, and I kind of don’t like that term, but what are some practices in terms of understanding what teachers are dealing with and what it is that they need in order to be successful and what it is that they need to thrive. I think that the bottom line to that is that many teachers have expressed that they do not feel heard, they do not feel supported, they do not feel like their voice has any weight beyond the four walls of their classroom, and some of them feel limited even within the walls of their own classroom.

Again, I just really think that that is one of the biggest things. When I think about recruiting and retaining educators of color, I can really say that Montgomery County public schools has really increased its efforts over the years in terms of connecting with and trying to build up that. They have initiated partnerships with universities to try to increase the number of diverse teachers and educators in general that they have. For instance, they have a partnership with Bowie State University and I think the same thing with Morgan State University, so two local HBCUs, where they are making a concerted effort to make sure that we are recruiting educators of color.

Furthermore, in terms of retention, we have an organization within the county called BOND, which is Building Our Network of Diversity. This is a group, an organization specifically dedicated to Black and Latino male educators within Montgomery County public schools. Without getting into too much detail, it really just provides a way for Black and Brown male educators to stay connected with and to support one another and provides an outlet, this ongoing support network and outlet that we can be a part of, because of what, I can’t remember who said it earlier, was talking about being in schools and feeling like you’re isolated at times. This network, this organization, provides a way that, within this huge district, within this huge county of about 209 schools, for a way for us to feel a little less siloed, a little less disconnected, a little less separated.

I just think that, again, with more sharing in terms of ideas, best practices, organizations and things like that, I think that there can be a lot of improvement in terms of maintaining your network of diversity within school districts.

To switch gears just quickly. When I think about coming back to school this year, I’ve watched my students, as I’m sure all teachers have, and I’ve paid attention and reflected on the differences between what I’m seeing now versus what I was during virtual learning versus what I was seeing even prior to that. This returning to the physical space of the classroom has caused me to have to stretch myself in terms of the ways that I engage my students. I’ve had to learn a lot more about giving grace, understanding that even though, unfortunately, a large portion of our society operates as if the pandemic never existed, many of our students are still grappling with that trauma that they experience over the past two years, including, as someone stated earlier, loss of family members. I think that it is vitally, critically important that schools, that teachers, that administrators, that districts pay attention to that and are real really tuned into, again, what the needs of the teachers are, what the needs of the students, and to support teachers in supporting their students to provide the type of environment that they need.

I understand that this is not simple and straightforward. I understand that administrators have to find a way to strike a balance between carrying out district-level mandates and tending to the needs of educators in their building. But just to wrap it up, I just believe that it really starts with listening, it really starts with being intentional and making a concerted effort to give teachers what it is that they need and not just paying lip service.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you, Tyreece, for the powerful, powerful testimony you shared with us. The things I captured, we need to keep focused on disparities of teacher pay, not use financial incentives as that carrot or that little thing we dangle in front of people to say, “Oh, we paid you so be quiet, sit back and don’t say anything. You have no voice.” We’ve got to promote the voice of teachers, elevate that voice and let it resonate loud and clear. Be intentional around collaboration and discussions and ongoing discussions around future needs. Particularly, I captured the support for Black and Brown educators. I thank you for sharing those.

We’re going to move to Lynnette, in a presentation around what’s causing the issues. I know that time is moving fast, but I think that the conversation, the comments, are vital for all of you who are on the call to hear the full scope of what our panelists and our participants are saying. Lynnette, with that, I’m going to turn it over to you.

Lynnette Mawhinney:

Thank you so much. I get to talk about the heavy stuff, how this issue of teacher shortage really looks like, but I’m going to preface this with a caveat that this is work of how it looked like before the dual pandemic. By dual pandemic, I mean the racial injustice that’s always occurred in our country, but that has definitely spearheaded its way into schools and school board meetings and affected teachers and classrooms, and COVID. I will talk about some of the stuff that’s starting to come out since then, but I just want to put that caveat there. I also know that we are running a little short on time, so I will skip some slides. I want to make sure that we really get to hear the panelists at the end and get some good voices in.

With that, my specialty, I am a former Philadelphia high school teacher turned teacher educator. A lot of my work is around urban teachers and what their career looks like, specifically teachers of color. When it comes to the urban sector, there’s deferring research, again, before the dual pandemic, around how many teachers actually leave teaching, what does the teacher shortage look like. The research has gone anywhere from 17% up to 46% leave within the five years. No matter what, even if it’s 17%, that’s still a significant number, but we know that with the dual pandemic that that has gone up.

High teacher attrition has affect classrooms and student learning. I’m sure we’re going to get to that with Vanessa’s talk, so I’m actually going to skip this slide and specifically talk about teachers of color. When you actually look at the numbers of teachers of color leave the field, this goes back to what Kyair was talking about, is that oftentimes teachers of color are in the more hard to staff and under-resourced schools, or they’re often in schools where they’re tokenized and they’re one of a select few, if at all. What it’s called in the scholarship is the leaky bucket syndrome, by Ingersoll, it’s the fact that so much is being put in, yet it keeps leaking out and that it starts to really affect teachers in teaching.

But here’s the thing. In the research, no one really knows why teachers are leaving. No one’s asked teachers. There’s always been I ideas, but no one’s really asked teachers, up until this point that I’m going to talk about. Prior to the work I’ve done around teachers who’ve left, all that we ever knew was there was a trend on social media for a while, when teachers gave a resignation they would actually post their letters on Twitter or social media. It was a way for us to get an idea of what was happening, but we still don’t know the deep story of it and how can their voices actually help administrators, actually help people like me, teacher educators, actually help colleagues, think about how do we support each other to retain teachers. The other problem is that the day that they quit, they walk out the door and they’re missing from the social networks. They end up cutting ties and so they’re hard to find. This is often why this research has not been done on teachers who left.

Myself and a colleague named Carol Rinke, she’s at Marist College in New York, we decided to take on this challenge. Technically, I’m a teacher leaver. She is too, she was a science teacher in New York City. We really wanted to understand, what do teachers say about why they left and how does that help us better everything.

We all have stories to tell, this is actually why, I don’t know if you can see, I’m wearing this pin, it says, “Ask a teacher how to make schools better,” and to try to gather their voices. We went into this project, challenge accepted, to try to find people nationwide to have this discussion of why they’ve left. We went in asking this question, how do teacher leavers experience their careers over time? What did it look like from the beginning, teacher, trainer, all through them making this decision to leave, and what do they have to say about that?

How we define a teacher leaver, just so you understand who we talked to, they had to be teaching at least one year. All the teachers we talked to taught more than that. The average teacher length of our participants was six years that they taught on average. They have to had left on their own accord.

They’ve had to left on their own accord. Not, we didn’t include people who retired, although I will mention some people retire early, right? As a way to leave the classroom, excuse me, they’d have to train either traditional methods. So that means going to an undergraduate or graduate program to get their teaching certificate or alternate method such as a fellows program or teach for America or something like that. And we narrowed this down to specifically looking at secondary science teachers because of out of all the teaching fields, they leave the most and it’s really because their credentialing in the sciences opens up other fields often paying more because of their science background. And we looked at language arts teachers because they often have the largest workload because of all the papers that have to be graded and whatnot. And the resource supports all that.

So it took, it was not easy. As I said, it was a challenge, but we found at least 25 people who would talk to us over 14 states. But you’ll notice that this, the participants in the study look very similar to the teaching field. Majority, female, majority white, a little more than half actually got their certification through traditional means. They’ve taught in a number we’ve had over 22 plus urban intensive areas or urban characteristic, that’s Milner’s classification of what does urban mean. But here is what is interesting, more than half who left, went on into non-teaching educational roles. So that means they either went into say being administration and principal, or they went on into higher ed. They still kept their foot in education in some way. We have one person who ended up doing job training, right? For homeless people, right? So they’re still educational stuff.

And at 44% left the field completely. One was an egg farmer and had like 300 chickens, right? Another was a pastor, another was an app developer. So just looking at a complete career change. Here’s what they said in a very, very, very short amount of time. First, they talked about some, talked about leaving with the constant push and pull. And when I mean, by push and pull is thinking about their passion as a teacher, either their passion pushed them into the teach, into the field, but it also pulled them out. We have one participant who talked about once she, her passion got into teaching, she realized like what the system was doing and she wanted to pull out to work on dismantling the system. So she’s someone who went into policy work to try to dismantle some of the ill, specifically for her focus around black and brown children.

We’ve had this push and pull that we heard for some folks who just, teaching is a very you’re, you’re not necessarily on stage, but you’re on, right? You have to be on for your students all the time and some people are talking about the push and pull of, I just don’t want to talk to anybody anymore. I just want to be isolated in a cubicle because there’s that whole dynamic of who they were characteristically maybe a little bit more introverted. We had a lot about as you can guess, administration, but I will say all the participants talked about if they had an administrator who was strong, there are no times that they have thoughts of leaving. And what I mean by strong is a lot of them talked about, we call it blockage, right? So for instance, one participant talked about scripted curriculum was coming down from the district offices. The administrator told her teachers, look, I trust you, I believe in you, y’all do you, I’ll deal with this. So she ended up being, kind of like the blockage who was taking the hit.

So all them talked about solid administration, if it was great, it was great. And if it wasn’t, that’s when they ended up being ills. Some of that was with racial microaggressions, I’ll talk about that later. Some of that was just poor management, so on and so forth. As you can mention exhaustion, stress and disillusionment came up. But I have to say, since this, since doing this study, I just started last month. I’m on a project we are finding, there is a mass exodus of black teachers leaving school district of Philadelphia. So we have started to interview folks, which by the way, is not hard to find people now talk who are leaving, because it, there’s a larger percentage that’s happening and it’s happening all together. And a lot of them are talking about the stress and exhaustion of the dual pandemic. And also because of the pandemic specifically in the city of Philadelphia, there’s just a lot more traumas that the teachers, and the students are experiencing with the raising of gun violence that’s been happening. First grade teacher was just telling me her class of 15 students already this year, there’s been seven deaths, not including her own because of either COVID or gun violence and that’s just 20, 22.

Salary came up, but it actually didn’t come up as much as we thought. And when it did come up, there was a gender and cultural identity to it. Now I would say, and as again, dual pandemic has happened, things have switched, inflation’s up, people are feeling this more and more and more. I’m finding with a new work salary is becoming more of a topic than it was just four years ago, but with a gender and cultural identity to it, we had a lot of the male participants talking about salary, thinking about gender identity and what that means for supporting a family and cultural identity.

For instance, we had one participant who’s Asian American and the influence of her Asian family and how that they valued, and in her culture, she talked a lot about what salary means and what’s prestige of profession, excuse me.

But here’s the deal. When we parsed out our participants and we parsed out, out of the 25, 8 of them were teachers of color, seven of eight left because of racial microaggressions. I’m going to say that again, seven of the eight of them left because racial microaggressions. Which is high and it’s horrifying, but I will take a teachable moment here real quick because racial microaggressions is the term that’s often used, but not really talked about what it means. So Charles Pierce, back in 1978, he was a psychologist and he looked at black men specifically and he’s the one who actually gave the term microaggressions, which are the sudden, excuse me, subtle, sudden and often automatic exchanges, which are put downs.

Sue has then taken that work and done different categories for it. Whether that’s non-verbals that are happening or verbals or passive aggressive behaviors. But the thing with microaggressions it’s, there are things that stack up and they could also make you feel crazy. Just two days ago, I was talking to a black teacher with the new project and she was saying she, there’s four black teachers in her school, two of them herself included are leaving after the school year and she’s in her ninth year of teaching. And it’s because of the racial microaggressions. And she gave one example in the hallway walking there’s a white colleague who’s coming this way. She says, hello, there’s a white colleague behind her, the colleague who’s walking this way, she said hello to, will ignore her and stay behind.

Right? Is that the whole reason that happens in, okay, she’s going to stop teaching? No, it’s the fact that these type of microaggressions happen like a domino effect, they stack and stack and stack and stack and stack until you can’t take it anymore. And she would often talk about when that first started happening, she talked to the other three black teachers, did you have this experience or am I crazy? And they had the same thing, right?

So racial microaggressions are a problem, but also in the dual pandemic and what’s happening, it’s starting to escalate itself. This came out literally yesterday, this was posted of some of the new work talking about teacher satisfaction and as you can see within the dual pandemic, satisfaction has dropped, but there is good news and we’re going to get to good news and what people can do a little bit later in this conversation. I know my discussion was not warm and fuzzy in any way and feels a little Debbie downer, but there is good news to this on what we can do, but this is what teacher shortage looks like. And with that, I’m going to pause and turn it back over.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you. Thank you, Lynnette, such a valuable piece of information. I just want to throw my little two cent in that I think there are people who want to forget that we’ve always been, so the term you use dual pandemic, but we’ve always been in a pandemic in education. It’s just that COVID added this second layer. And in my view that pandemic has been that our educational system has been brought with this structure of racism and exclusion discrimination bias, and you name it for decades. It’s festered, it’s grown, it’s reared, it’s head it’s, it stayed under the radar, it’s done it all within the structure of education and so that pandemic itself has remained alive and well. And so COVID has just created a second layer and we’ve got to be able to call out the first, because I think COVID is just one of those things that, maybe it was invented and maybe it wasn’t, but racism and discrimination and bias was planted and it has been nurtured and it’s been allowed to grow and it’s been cultivated and it’s been replanted. And so the cycle just remained. So I thank you so much for that and giving me, two cents worth in your eloquent presentation.

So we’re going to move on to Vanessa who’s going to give us some more information about the impact of the teacher shortage. Let’s talk about that, Vanessa.

Vanessa Williams:

Wonderful, Awesome. So y’all thank you again for having me on this panel. Darrell I know you started off your intro to me saying we might be related if not actually related, I’m going to make a pitch right now for you to be my play uncle. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Daryl Williams:

Uncle cause of my age.

Vanessa Williams:


Daryl Williams:

Yes, I’ll be your play uncle.

Vanessa Williams:

You’re only as old as you feel Daryl.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you.

Vanessa Williams:

You know, there we go. There we go. Awesome. So happy Tuesday folks again thanks for having me here in this space. My name is Ms. Williams. I’m the program manager with the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice, which is a project in teaching for change.

And I’ll just go ahead and dive in, next slide please. Thank you, actually can go into the next one now as well. Thank you. So I wanted to begin my remarks, Nick and I are actually really thrilled to be bringing up the radar on this portion, at least at the webinar, mostly because I’m like going to be rated, re-iterating a lot of points that people have already made and obviously knowing some, some gap filling or some, introducing some curiosities that like I haven’t heard explicitly named or that I’ve seen nodded to, that I think we can explore a little bit more, but again, I will do my best to, again, respect the time that we have left so we can get even more brilliant and genius from a lot of wonderful panelists that are gathered today.

I got this quote that I see, I actually kind of tweaked it a little bit, but I see amplified a lot on social media, this idea, that school, and I entered it specifically, teacher working conditions are also student learning conditions, right? And I know that’s a perspective that so many of you are also, are already very well aware of right? So many educators in this space. You don’t need me to tell you that, right? But when I am looking at this particular phrase or quote or what have you, I think a lot about what it takes to blend to a strong schooling experience. And while of course, I really, really want to center teachers, right? And this, the reason why we’re having this panel and teacher retention and recruitment, right? The focus should be on that group, I also think a lot about how other folks that report to the school building or in many ways supplement school, the schooling experience, right?

So this is [inaudible 01:09:47], this is librarians, this is facilities folks, right? All these people that are keeping this community as tight and as flourishing as possible, right? I don’t think that they are the people that we should be thinking about them only in how they’re servicing teachers, right? But I do wonder a lot about how, if we are also considering the perspectives of other people that are reporting to the school building, or again are supplementing the many, many ways that it takes to like have a strong education, how that could also benefit teacher retention and recruitment, right? And we have a strong community of folks that are banding together to make, again, the schooling experience, as powerful, as seamless, as strong as possible. That also helps with the many, many tasks and responsibilities that educators have to take on. When the, when our, again, our net is strained. Next slide, please, Ian.

Thank you. It’s important to name, and again, these are ideas that have already been noted, especially Dr. Mawhinney, but of course of our educators also named us as well. But it’s really important also to, again, name that a lot of the things that we’re talking about that are lending to teacher retention, people exiting the classroom are just lost any issues that are being exacerbated, right? Like wasn’t there a video a couple of days ago that came out, I’m a big prince fan, but we saw him, 11 years old, back in 1970, right? Supporting his teachers, right? Because he was in like upper elementary, early, early middle school who were striking in Minnesota, right? And so, again, I know this, obviously we talked the very first strike that has ever happened, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to name, that particular instance where educators were like, pay me more, where educators were like, respect me, when educators were voicing some concerns that can be addressed and have [inaudible 01:11:59] dismissed, what have you, right?

So often educators are seen as a solution, right? We need to have a strong education system. We need to have a critically thinking populous in the immediate and years from now, right? So who are the people that are responsible for that? Educators? Of course, it makes sense, we signed up for it. And when people are voicing, their concerns about needing respect, needing again so many of the other things that we’ve outlined already on this panel, it’s a problem, right? Oh, you’re lazy, oh, you’re not committed. Oh you’re, insert whatever derogatory or insulting way to address an educator, who’s a professional, right? So that I had to name that I wanted to, and again, reiterate that perspective.

I also wanted to note, I also wanted to note that it’s really important to check our rhetoric here. I wanted to, there’s a reason why I’m sitting on this panel, someone who is a program manager and not a teacher, right? I loved education, I loved teaching, I signed up and I knew for years and years that I wanted to go and into being a classroom teacher, I love what I do, now, let me not get that twisted. I’m still working closely within education and again, I’m glad Dr. Mawhinney pointed that out and her presentation as when that left the classroom, but I’m still working closely within the educational world. I’m frequenting classrooms, all this. And I felt like I was pushed out, right? Because I felt like there were so many opportunities, there’s so many ways in which the educational systems or the government or other powerful authorities could have prevented the factors that led to me deciding, not right now. I talked with the people that can do this, but I, [crosstalk 01:13:53] this, I decided to pursue a different leg of it all.

Next slide please Ian. Thank you. So by the numbers again, I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible. I’m looking at some of the messages for us and tweaking the numbers, but I can’t help but note or give credit to some of our partners or friends that empower EDDC that one of our panelists, Maya, is a part of their work with the Washington teachers team and they published a study or excuse me, a survey last year, that beginning of the school year, the 20, 21, 22 school year, that pointed to a lot of the really alarming things that we’ve already been noting, right? So 25% of these teachers leave their classrooms every year, right? And that’s again, pointing to some of the longstanding issues that we’ve been noting again as a whole panel. Next slide please.

83% of educators that Empowered surveyed last school year so that they, that their morale has worsened, right? So I don’t like letter grades, but if we were looking at this, oh, I saw 81 and 80%. But if we were to look at this, it would be a B minus but actually more, I think about it, if you’re actually using golf scoring, right? Like the higher, this percentage is, the worse your performing and supporting educators and just keeping their ability to remain in the classroom, right? So that’s, again, another alarming figure based on almost 700 educators that were surveyed for this.

Next slide, please. And then 57% of educators that left DCPS in the past seven years were rated as effective or highly effective. So again, again, these are people who have weathered so many storms or, hiccups, or, so many other pieces in education that are in a field that’s already…We know what we’re signing up for in many, many ways but there’s some things we don’t anticipate, but generally speaking, we know that it’s going to be a [inaudible 01:16:03]. It’s going to be taxing. It’s going to be a lot of different, it’s going to be, I want to use the word burdensome, but doesn’t feel that great. But, and these people were already rated as effective, as highly effective, and still said, I don’t know about this. Right. Which is again, alarming in its own, right?

Next slide, please. I think this is my last slide for this portion. So again, I keep it brief. I am my very, very, very curious about educators that are too using to return. Again, I’m a stickler for language. I like to be precise in my language and thinking about, again, our wonderful panelists, our educators who are choosing to return, which means I’m glad that they’re a part of it, of this obviously amplifying their voices, their perspectives, but I’m looking at people who, again are in the classroom, full-time educators that, what is keeping them right now, right?

And how can we replicate? Or how can we make sure that like educators who are feeling like they aren’t so supported or aren’t getting whatever resources they need to be able to do that, right? It’s got to be an overhaul, it’s got to be something that is intentional, again, structural, again amplify the voices of educators that are truly choosing to not just, that are truly choosing to return.

And again, turning back to how I began my remarks and looking at how staff and other personnel are, and like in their quality of job fulfillness or how, again, that they’re lending to a whole educational experience, right? What, how are they feeling, right? How are they, again, other parts of the strong network of people that are lending to the schooling experience, how are they contributing? How are they being supported in that, especially when we’re looking at again, the ramped up worsening, working conditions at work that came with the onset of the pandemic, we know that staff were cut, right? We saw peoples hours being decreased or their positions being cut all together, right? So how are they also doing, performing and being supported in their roles as other people who were also leaning through the schooling experience that are again, making a difference for how educators are able to manage all their tasks and responsibilities in a given day or a given school year.

Next slide, Ian, want to make sure that was it for me. There we go, okay, wonderful. Appreciate your time.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you, Vanessa. Thank you. I really enjoyed your starting off sharing that you’re going to be filling in the gaps, particularly with a panel who have shared so many things about the causes of teacher retention, but you’re talking about the impacts and the impacts many people want to think that the impact is solely on children and students, but the impact is on the educator. The impact is on, they have so much to lose, but the impact is they’re not respected, they’re not treated as professionals, they’re not compensated, that they’re not allowed to thrive, they’re not allowed to be creative with teaching and learning. So, the impact of this shortage is on the profession, in the people and particularly educators of color, because they are always the ones either pushed out or blocked out from being the type of influencer of learning and of molding young people in the future of our society.

So thank you all very much for that. So we’re going to go to our round table for Q and A, and let me just get my bearing straight here on what I’m supposed to be doing. So there are questions that we want to sort of lift up. Give me a quick second to get my, my bearings right.

I got to open up my screen again.

Okay. I think there’s some questions, there’s some Q and A, so I’m going to go to the Q and A and look at some of the questions and just pick them out as I randomly see it. So Chuck has asked the question, how can Blockchains Web 3.0 NFTs, etc tools be used to attract and retain teachers of color? So anybody in the, on the panel who wants to respond to that? Chuck, did I get it right? You said setbacks did, did I get it right, Chuck? Okay. I think I did. So anyway, from the panel, just can respond to this question. Chuck says, yes, I got it right. You must have stumped the panel Chuck,(silence) are we still here? I don’t know. Are we frozen? Okay. All right. Great. Thank you. Come on.

Lynnette Mawhinney:

Can Chuck just maybe explain or put in the chat, I don’t know what a Blockchain is.

Vanessa Williams:

I was going to say, I am, I do have like some familiar, like familiarity with those things. They’re not, those are not things like I invest in or use. So I don’t, that’s why I didn’t respond. I don’t have a particular thought around, around that question. So…

Daryl Williams:

So, so and I don’t want to speak for Chuck. So maybe Chuck, what, one of the things you could do, you can put a little bit more descriptive information in the chat, and we’ll try to circle back to that. Let’s see. He says, he says how supporting recruiting his message is up so I can’t really read it yet. Okay we’ll circle back to Chuck and his question. I have an anonymous attendee who says what role, responsibility and accountability do teacher unions hold in, advocating for teachers and concerns over teacher attrition. The role of teacher unions in advocating for teacher concerns over teacher attrition. Anybody want to take that on?

Kyair Butts:

Yes. Like I do think that there’s a, that there is a place for right. There is a role, for that. I think that it’s also really important to just sort of have an idea of what it is that needs to be done. So if we’re talking about retention, we’re talking about recruitment, what sort of, I’m going to say campaign, right? What sort of campaign do you want in this campaign? It’s really important to understand who are your adversaries, right? Who are going to be your advocates, who are folks that are really going to support you, who are people that are going to oppose you? It’s really important to go into a campaign or looking and asking for something, understanding who are those that are going to help, hurt support, what have you, almost like a SWAT analysis, if you will. You need to do have a role to play, right? Because it’s sort of representing right? The collective voice of educators, and then Baltimore city also are para educators. One thing to caution though, is that where it comes to the.

One thing to caution though is that where it comes to the district representatives as well as union representatives, I think that some level of mutual respect and collaboration really go a long way. Ideas of being sort of antagonistic or assuming or painting the other one as the sort of boogie person, if you will, doesn’t really go that far in solving our problems on behalf of children and the families in whatever district that union purports to represent. So I know it sounds like a little pie in the sky but mutual cooperation and decency really go a long way when representing shared interests for a group of people.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you. We’ll move to other questions because I want to get as many perspectives from different questions as we can. So here’s another question from inside the Q and A. In addition to financial reasons such as salaries, benefits, job stability, what’s the best part of teaching that you think keeps teachers in the profession or do you think gets teachers to stay?

Brianna Ross:

The students.

Daryl Williams:

This is in the chat, by the way.

Brianna Ross:

The students, that’s it. I think the students, that’s it. I don’t even think there’s more to expound on that. We stay for the students. Sometimes I think about where I’m at just in my career, even on the days when I can’t be in the building, my heart is sad because I’m not with the students. And so I think if there is any reason that we enter into the profession and then we stay, even for all of us who are here on this panel and who are in the classroom right now, I would imagine that every day in the last however long our teaching careers are, I can imagine that every day hasn’t been rosy. And I can also imagine that probably everyone on this panel has had a moment of like, “I don’t want to do that anymore.” I can speak for myself that I certainly have.

There have been days where I’m like, “It’s a lot and it’s heavy and it’s a lot to carry.” But I wake up every day with my students in mind and I show up for them because I know what I represent to them. I know that I’m showing up with the full intent to do nothing but to love them first. And I know how important that is. And it’s really like, for me there is no safer place for me than being in the classroom. And so even on the days when that’s really hard, I love being in the classroom and I love teaching. And I think the students are the reason why we come back and why we show up every day.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you. And there are good comments in the chat as well. Kyair states, “Black and brown teachers typically stay out of a sense of loyalty. Loyalty to the students and the space they’re in.” Things are moving kind of fast. Nila shared that teacher unions. Let me go up a little bit so I can read her comment. “Teacher unions are vital in improving working and learning conditions. Without them and in places without them, working learning conditions are, would be much worse. I suspect many locals could be doing much more.”

Maya Baum:

Daryl, is it okay if I jump in on this question?

Daryl Williams:


Maya Baum:

I think another thing to help keep teachers in is access. And so also thinking about how are we bringing and how are we keeping them, but thinking about access to learning and to higher ed for teachers to be able to learn more to be better teachers, we have to pay out of pocket. And if there were programs in place that paid for teachers to go and get more degrees or take classes, find trainings that they wanted to do. In DC in this past year, we actually, the council passed due to teacher advocacy, they passed a bill to start a teacher pipeline from the high schools that’s debt free for students who want to be teachers.

And research has found that having those types of teachers of color, and it helps because we’re bringing up members of the community to come back and teach in the communities that raise them and to continue that community knowledge. And so having those kinds of programs I think is really important in retaining teachers and in keeping teachers and making it more accessible. Because right now it’s really hard. And especially with like student loans that we know disproportionately affect black and brown teachers. Having loan forgiveness programs for teachers that’s not after teaching for five or 10 years because our salaries don’t really cover paying off our loans and paying for increased rent and inflation. And so making those types of things where again, it’s sustainable to be a teacher.

Daryl Williams:

Anybody else want to jump in? Here’s another question. Go ahead.

Nikevia Thomas:

I want to jump in. This is [Nikevea 01:29:40]. There is a question that we had prior to the start of the webinar and it was what do you think is the greatest barrier to feeling like an effective teacher and how that barrier and how does that barrier play into less teacher retention?

Daryl Williams:

Again Nikevia, just for clarity.

Nikevia Thomas:

I certainly can. Let me try again. What do you think is the greatest barrier to feeling like an effective teacher, and how does that barrier play into less teacher retention?

Tyreece Woodly:

I think one barrier is lack of support from administrators and or parents. We often talk about building community in schools, and we have to remember that includes parents. Even the most skilled teachers in the world can benefit from parents who are on the same page as them, in terms of trying to support that child. But one of the things that we have seen come out of the pandemic and a lot of people have reported is an increase in problematic student behavior. It’s difficult to correct those behaviors and change mindsets and attitudes when the very thing that you’re working against is being taught or demonstrated at home. And so what we see sometimes before the pandemic and after is in some cases unfortunately disrespect toward teachers that is modeled by parents or other people. And I think that is certainly a barrier.

Lynnette Mawhinney:

I’m going to add a barrier on the other end, because I’m on the recruitment end and training end. And the barriers that we have is the fact that especially when it comes to black and brown teachers, which is my university, is a minority serving institution, is the fact that we have a lot more who want to be teachers who can’t get through because of all of these barriers that are set. And most of them are pretty racist barriers that are set either by the state or even by the federal government. Give you an example. One massive, massive nationwide barrier is the Praxis core exam or basic skills exam. ETS as Praxis, Pearson has their own testing example. And it’s reading and writing and math. Now, if you want to be a chemistry teacher or there’s things there that you’re never going to really always use or access.

It’s a hyped up SAT and research shows again and again it is racially biased towards people of color, even ETS for them doing Praxis. Their own research team has put out research again and again in reports on how their test hurts specifically black test takers. And if you don’t pass this, you don’t even get to get in a teacher program. And teaching is the only profession where you have to test in to a program. There’s no other profession that does that. So you are already having a barrier, and we’re talking about retention just even getting them into the pipeline. That’s a barrier. Now, when you look at the actual teaching exams that they take, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take a standardized test. If you’re a dentist, I want to know that you can actually work on my teeth. It’s the same thing. But when it comes to like Praxis two, in some states who have the ETS, it’s fine because people that’s their specialized area.

That’s what they’ve been studying. It’s showing that black and brown folks don’t have as many issues with that exam. But when you have an exam in the beginning that has nothing to do with what they’re going to be teaching or doing, doesn’t make sense. Barrier two, teaching is a very, very expensive thing to get certified. So not only all these tasks. So I’m talking about Praxis as $189. I’m talking about another one, which is $189. EdTPA in some states, that’s $300. This is all if you pass the first time, plus your tuition. And plus, you have to think about things like your clinical experiences. Some states are now saying you have to do a whole year of clinical experience. Not that I think that’s a bad thing, but it also means people often can’t work. And so it becomes a financial burden.

So we have to tell our students who are coming in, besides your tuition, you have to budget $1,500 extra to get all your certifications, clearances and whatnot. And so we always try to find grant money to support that. So I’m just saying all this to say there are a lot of barriers that are set up in this system that is very, very biased. And there’s a lot of people like myself and others who are lobbying against this, just to get them in the pipeline, let alone to get them into the classroom. And then you have the other barriers that Tyreece is talking about. Sorry, I got on my soapbox, but I had to say.

Daryl Williams:

That’s okay. Great, great response. So thank you all. Unfortunately, we are running out of time or probably over time. And so I want to do spending maybe two minutes with the panel talking about best practices and strategies to address the issues of teacher retention. So, I want you to kind of whip through panelists. Give me your best 30 second, 45 second response. In fact, I’m going to start calling on people. Exercise the privilege of my authority in this space. So I’m going to start with Brianna.

Brianna Ross:

I knew he was going to start with me. I’m going just echo something that Dr. Lynnette said earlier. I think one thing we do not do well enough is asking teachers, and I talk about this a lot when we think about what we do for students, because we often make decisions for students and don’t ask them. And in the same way that we’re a profession where you have to like test into and that sort of thing, we also are a profession where decisions are made for us all the time without our input.

And I think the more we talk to teachers and give them the space to elevate their voices in spaces like this, and hopefully in spaces where they can have their voices elevated on a political and a national level, that’s what really matters. I think if we were to really talk to teachers and see really what is happening in the classrooms and what we think is best, what we want, and what we are looking for in terms of support, in terms of strategy, in terms of resources, I think there is no better practice than elevating the voices of the teachers who are in the classroom.

Daryl Williams:

Great. Thank you. Vanessa.

Vanessa Williams:

Wonderful. Yeah. I’m actually going to hit the chat with some links that I pulled earlier in my preparation for this. So again, I’m pointing. I love amplifying and reiterating and also offering up my own original ideas, but I think why recreate the wheel, we have that right there from [inaudible 01:37:07]. We’ve got a page [inaudible 01:37:10], information that I’ve shared with you all again, so that today. And I wanted to highlight two different things. Again, concrete steps that we could in supporting educators on a more structural level. That’s not like take care of yourself or what’s not a structural response, but individual. So one of those things that empower ed, like through the survey talked about is allowing more flexibility in scheduling. So like during, especially when we were doing [inaudible 01:37:43] or working from not the school building, whatever that looked like for different people, and it could have offered up more time for a bit more flexibility.

And when people are offering classes or offering office hours, offering all the different responsibilities that people have as educators. So it gave a really good model or an opportunity for there to introduce the idea of not having so much rigidity in the school day and allow for again, more flexibility in that. Because I, as an educator put off doctor’s appointments or had to reschedule things or had to get my car maintained on a Saturday morning, instead of during a weekday, because I was in school from 7:00 AM to sometimes six, 7:00 PM. So allowing more flexibility in scheduling.

And also I think this was made earlier, but I wanted to highlight the idea of the professional development. I think Maya pointed to this too, but having more generative experiences with that. So allow for people to have more choice, more agency, and [inaudible 01:38:51] and ones that are going to be worthwhile for them that are going to, again, like feed their career, feed their trajectory, feed their passions, feed whatever it is that they need. If one would be supplemented, [inaudible 01:39:02]. And they are in their practice. So flexible scheduling, professional development are the two pieces that I wanted to impart that I think are concrete and more structural on nature.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you. Kyair, and then I’m going to go to Maya.

Kyair Butts:

Yeah. So I think one pretty simple, although maybe air quotes around simple best practice or strategy is relatively low hanging fruit, but it also is like the highest attainment. And to me it would really just be listening. Find and seek out black and brown teachers. Ask them about their experiences and make changes based on what you hear from the qualitative or quantitative data that is the responses of those teachers. As simple as listening is, somehow it seems to be one of the hardest things both to do and then turnkey into some sort of action step for change or rethinking, reimagining what have you. Listen to the black and brown teachers. Michelle Molitor did some research and she calls it equity by design. Seek out your black male teachers. Ask them about their experiences. Find your Latino male teachers, ask them about their experiences, and then design an education system that actually posits their experiences as the mainstream. Equity by design.

Maya Baum:

I would echo everything these wonderful other people have been saying, and just really listen to teachers. I think teachers have been saying what they need for a very long time now. And it goes ignored. And finding ways to have more people in schools, having more social workers, having more school nurses, having more school psychologists. Because the burden falls on classroom teachers and we are not trained or equipped to deal with that. So hiring more. Again, making it a [inaudible 01:41:10] for people to come to which again connects to make it pay so that people can do this job and pay their bills and take care of their families. So I would say that is also another important factor.

Daryl Williams:

And I’m going to ask Tyreece to take us home.

Tyreece Woodly:

So, a lot can be said in terms of short term best practices, but in the long term, I think it’s important that we develop and implement a plan to change the way that this profession is viewed in this country. When you look at places like China, India, Greece, Taiwan, South Korea, teaching is a profession that is viewed and respected the way we respect physicians in this country. And they’re paid more than a fair and respectable wage, and families actually encourage their kids to be become teachers. And I really believe that this plays into the way that the respect that teachers are given in this country plays into the way that students behave in schools. If the perception of our profession is elevated in such a way, and teachers are treated with the respect that they deserve by districts, by admin, by parents, I think that this will inevitably, and I hate to really use this word, but trickle down to students. And I believe that we would see a decrease in problematic behavior and overall more success in terms of student performance.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you all. Thank you. Now I know my team has been put in the chat. Did Lynette get a chance to share? Purposely waited for Lynette because Lynette said something earlier that she had the good news. So I want Lynette to bring it on with the good news.

Lynnette Mawhinney:

So the good news looks a little different than most people think. So one of the teachers that I’ve talk with and we’ve now had a number of teachers actually share this, is when feeling a little bit crispy with all that’s going, sabbatical. Sabbatical comes to the root word of Sabbath. And this one teacher in particular said she was teaching for 14 years before she left. She goes, “You know, if I was able to have a sabbatical, I think I would still be teaching now.” And so we actually looked into that and what are other sectors in urban areas and countries doing? And they’re actually doing these small mini sabbaticals in London and Manchester, which are three to six weeks sabbaticals. How they do them is they have like a sunshine fund. You know how people do sunshine funds? Some schools on Friday can wear jeans and put anything.

That sunshine fund builds up and it can pay for a floater teacher so someone can take off for three to six weeks, and they do PD in this way. And then they actually did a survey here. This shows how did the teacher shield when they came back? But we don’t necessarily have a system like that. A lot of school districts are not doing sabbaticals anymore like they used to, which I would also say that’s where unions can really come in to advocate for that. But doing self-made sabbaticals, I’m hearing more and more teachers doing this. Just to give themselves some respite and to come back with energy.

So how they’re doing it is they’re literally collectively pooling their sick time or personal time and using it in big chunks to take a break and to catch a breath and to come back. And it’s helping to sustain them. So sounds weird, but there is good news. Rest is important to keep us healthy. This conversation started a lot with mental health stuff. And so trying to think about ways to do self-directed sabbatical until hopefully unions can start to advocate more for bringing sabbaticals back.

Daryl Williams:

Thank you. And like I said, we run out of time and I thank you for the good news. It’s a perfect segue into a tool that we want to share with you. If we just pop it up on the screen, I’m not going to take a lot of time to talk about it, but we’ve got this tool kit. Managing mental wellness, tools for yourself, your students, and your classrooms. We promote this as a way to help you improve your own wellbeing, help improve your health. Create positive conditions for student learning and for students’ wellbeing as well as yours also. So we are going to put the link to this resource in the chat. You can download it. It offers quite a bit of information on self care. I want to also promote just a couple of weeks ago that our region was a part of a BIPOC presentation where we talked about radical self for individuals who are engaged in this work around equity and social justice.

And we’ll try to make some of those resources available to you as well. And we just want to be able to highlight this now that I’ve run out of time. We are going to just move on. So thank you so very much to the panel. You are experts. I am truly, truly indebted to you for your expertise, for your sharing, for just being the power people in this work to support teachers, support educators, to support children, to support families and communities. Thank you so much for your contributions today, and let’s not let this be the end of the work that we do. We’ve got to build the future of this education system. We’ve got to dismantle the racist practices and the racism that’s embedded in this system. And we’ve got to create something brand new, particularly for children and students and teachers of color. So thank you all so much.

Be sure that there’s a link in the chat for feedback, that you check that out and you do your surveys. We want to hear from you. And we want to know if we are providing you with the best resources available. To the team at MAC, thank you so much. Nikevea for your leadership. You are just a wonderful leader in this work and to each and every one of my panelists and participants. Thank you for being a part of this great work. Peace and blessings. Thank you, Shavan. Peace and blessings to you as well. Peace and blessings to everyone on the call. Any last minute, Nikevea, before we sign off?

Nikevia Thomas:

No, that’s it. Thank you all for joining and participating and for our panelists for sharing your words of wisdom.

Daryl Williams:

And thank you for going a little bit longer with us. We really do appreciate it. And look for more information coming from MAEC on our website and through our listserv. We want to do something like this again, so thank you much. Have a great night everyone. Be blessed.

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