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Artist statement

The teacher shortage has been ongoing for some time but has recently become more apparent in society due to the covid pandemic. The shortage is mostly due to less degrees given, expanded opportunities for women, burnout, long hours, lack of resources, work-life balance, lack of respect, class size, political issues, and most importantly low pay.  


I believe the lack of support and respect for teaching comes from misconceptions. Many people assume what a teacher does because everyone has been to school. This preconceived notion of what a teacher does is misleading. A child's view of teaching is not accurate, their brains have not fully developed. This can create a subconscious dislike for teachers as we transition from student to adult. 


I have taught in the public school system for 21 years and have survived many changes. I completely understand why teachers are leaving. It is very difficult and exhausting.  It can also be very rewarding, but is it worth it? 


I start with a shadow box in reference to the many dioramas we create as students. It also references the glass box teaching is put into. How teachers are seen by the public. How teachers must maintain a public figure role. How they will constantly be critiqued. They are always on view. The simple graphic childlike classroom is in reference to a warm loving classroom that is focused on character and fundamentals of learning. The children are created out of jean material to reference America. The pink ones are made from my school spirit wear that my art club designed. The blue students are made from my union t-shirt. 


I have interviewed several professionals in the public school system. I am using their voice recordings to further my piece. (Transcriptions are at the bottom of page)


teacher shortage 1.jpg

D.S.- Teaching is hard. Very, very hard and in today’s world it is no longer an honorable profession. The constant portrayal of nationwide disrespect and the lack of support has now become the norm. This has truly demoralized those working in this demanding field. Couple that with the low pay, high education cost for a degree, violence in schools, and an increased workload, why would teachers stay? Why would you go into this job? 


E.N.- Teacher shortage is due to low pay, lack of respect towards profession and increasing  hostile work conditions. 


N.M.- I think the reason for the teacher shortage is the DE-professionalization of teaching. 


L.W.- Teachers need the support of admin, parents, and lawmakers in order to provide a good learning environment for all students and they are not getting it. 


M.T.- I am a school social worker in my 12th year of public education. I compare working in a public school to working in the emergency room. Like, when you work in the emergency room you see everybody and when you work in a public school everybody comes to school. But the difference is at school they don't just come in and get a treatment and a diagnosis and send away. They come in they stay with you all day. They come back to Next day and the next day and the next day. so it's kind of like you're living at the emergency room. When you're trying to help these kids and teach these kids it can sometimes really be a chaotic and crazy situation. You have no control over what happens when they leave. Did they do their homework. Did they go to bed at night. Whether they get something to eat. There's just so many variables that schools a lot of times are dealing with. This really basic stuff like feeding kids making sure you know letting them sleep if they need to sleep. Making sure they have clothes, food get to the dentist, get their physicals. People who are making the policies and rules need to listen to teachers and trust them. And I think that would be a step in the right direction. 


M.E.- I have been teaching for 16 years. I'm a parent, teacher, and community member. In this climate, in regards to education, it really does scare me. Teachers keep leaving. The truth is, I can't say I blame them. Teaching is no longer attracting as many people as it used to for many reasons. My national union put out information and recommendations for how to help and I just wonder, will people really listen? Will they really take action and rise up? Our schools are the fabric that hold our communities together.Teaching is the career that sparks a love for all other careers. Were talking about the education of our children the one thing that can level the playing field for all children from all backgrounds regardless of their socioeconomic status. To have a lack of support for them is a huge disservice especially to our children who are high risk. If we care about the future of our country and where we're headed then we need to care about our children and care about the people behind the scenes who are taking care of them. It's our children's bus drivers, it's their administrative assistance, their paraprofessionals, their playground supervisors, their teachers, their cafeteria workers, they work together every day to make a difference in the life of a child. And I just wonder are we going to rise up for what we value and respect the professionals. Truly look for a solution or is it just going to be another Band-Aid on a profusely bleeding wound. 

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