The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Faculty faces challenges as educators

Photo by Cassidy Viox

Like many educators around the country, RBHS science teacher Cathy Dweik has a lot on her mind. There are lesson plans to write and papers to grade as well as a dozen other things: evaluations, observations and class trips, to name a few. The job can be overwhelming, even when someone has been doing it for a long time.
Dweik says she still remembers how other teachers warned her that the initial year could be rough, but at the beginning, she was full of energy.
“My first year teaching was interesting because I got a lot more than I thought I would,” Dweik said. “I started out ready to go, but over time the entire job just got to me. I definitely questioned how much I wanted it for a while. “
Dweik isn’t the only teacher who has experienced this feeling. One in 10 teachers will quit the job by the end of his or her first year, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education. Richard M. Ingersoll, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, was a part of the study and sees this statistic as a prime example of the problems with the education system.
“What we need to realize as a nation is that these teachers don’t have enough support to make it all on their own,” Ingersoll said. “I think that we need to be helping these teachers gain a support system just as much as they gain a knowledge base for teaching so they stay teaching.”
The same study also found that teachers who have a mentor to guide them through their first year are twice as likely to turn teaching into a career. Dweik personally saw the benefits of teaching as she had multiple supporters, both in school and out, that helped her as a young teacher. Through perseverance, Dweik saw her teaching dream become a reality.
“For me it really took help from both my friends and principal at work and then also help from my family when I got home,” Dweik said. “I really think this is why it’s so important for new or young teachers to get some kind of support system that fits them and can get them through the rough parts of teaching period. Without one, you’re really just hurting yourself and your chances of making it through.”
It isn’t just new teachers who doubt their jobs, however, as AP Lit and AP Lang teacher Deborah McDonough found out while teaching in Boston, Mass. During a tumultuous time for educators around the country, McDonough not only rethought her own job, but also the entire school system as a whole.
“I began to question what I wanted to do around a time when there had been multiple school shootings in our country and multiple gang shootings in our area,” McDonough said. “It got to the point where there had been so much violence that the school began frisking kids and making them walk through metal detectors before school. They weren’t even safe after they got out of school, either, because there had been gangs that would shoot at children walking right out of the door.”
This time period became a trying one for McDonough, and made her reconsider what drew her to the field in the first place.
“I remember sitting in my car waiting one morning before school for kids to get through the security checkpoint, and I really thought that this was the end of my teaching career,” McDonough said. “It really just hit me that this may be all too much for me, and I didn’t see myself continuing because I didn’t see the point.”
Similar to Dweik, McDonough used the support system of her peers and family to regain her drive to teach. Though it worked out for her, she says she could see where the job becomes too much for others and why they may quit.
“I, thankfully, had a good group of teachers around me that really helped me to get through the whole ordeal,” McDonough said. “I really think that for teachers to really enjoy their work and make it through, they have to have some kind of support system that helps them to find why teaching matters to them because that’s exactly what it took for me to make it through.”
For junior Adam Richenberger, who is interested in possibly going into the field of education, the idea of creating a group of supporters seems like a given. In the future he would still like to see more additions made for the well-being of teachers, like specialist counselors and even mental health support groups.
“To me it seems like teaching is one of the most emotionally draining and high pressure jobs out there,” Richenberger said. “That’s why I think it’s extremely important that teachers receive as much mental support as possible. Whether that’s with some kind of counselor or whatever I really think that the school district needs to be providing teachers with mental health specialists that know what they’re doing if they want to keep teachers on the job.”
Moving forward, both the Department of Education and Ingersoll would like to see more teachers take steps similar to what Dweik and McDonough did to lower the amount of teachers leaving the profession. Ingersoll also thinks that with new technology and ways to connect, he and the department can make that happen.
“With new technologies it’s becoming easier and easier for teachers to connect with and support one another,” Ingersoll said. “There have even been e-mail chains [that] send out daily reminders of the importance of teaching. It’s advances like this that will help the education system grow and thrive.”

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  • J

    Jadyn LisenbyNov 10, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    I can agree that teachers are under a lot of stress with their jobs. Students overall can be hard to deal with and teachers have to create lesson plans year after year with no end. I think that it would help if students were to recognize how much the teachers do for their students and thank them more often. If it wasn’t for them, nobody would have an education.

  • A

    Alexis WalkerNov 10, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I would never had thought that the cheerful, energetic teachers I have today were once contemplating quitting teaching. They seem to be natural teachers and I couldn’t imagine them doing anything else. We, as students need to appreciate teachers and treat them nicely because not too many people would volunteer to work with teenagers.

  • L

    Lisa ZhuangNov 10, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    As a student, I never thought to much into what it’s like to be a new teacher. Actually, I thought the first year would be exciting for a teacher. I’m glad I now know more about what it’s like to start out as a teacher. Gonna try making it easier for new teachers! The idea of a teacher support system is very good.