What does it mean to be a teacher in 2023?

What does it mean to be a teacher in 2023?

“It’s going to get worse.”

Those ominous words were shared by an educator in response to the latest Gradient Learning Poll on “The Great Teacher Resignation.” Among many notable findings of the poll, only 27% of teachers said it is very likely that they will be teaching five years from now.

Gradient Learning asked educators how their experiences are reflected in the poll's data, and the responses largely backed up the sentiment that the teaching profession is facing a potential crisis. A mass exodus of teachers could be near.

“Not sure I can hold on for another year,” one educator said.

“It really wears on you,” another teacher said of the job. “Not just you, but your family as well.”

Perhaps the most succinct and poignant statement came from an educator when asked to share their perspective about what it’s like being a teacher in this era.

“Stressed out, overworked, undervalued, and consistently disrespected,” the educator said.

Below are further responses from the education community about the current state of teaching.

What does it mean to be a teacher in 2023?

“It means you have not been able to move on to a high paid position. It means you struggle to make ends meet because of how demanding your job is and how little is compensated.” – High School Spanish Teacher

“It feels as if the trust that was once given to teachers that they know how to teach and understand their area of content is being replaced by more and more red tape. I feel as if it's painfully obvious that our system of education needs to either be completely restructured or we need to make some big changes to the current structure. Our society changes yet our system of educating our children has not changed very much at all.” – Middle School Science Teacher

"I’ve learned so much and had very rich and affirming experiences teaching! But I am cooked and must leave to heal.”

English Language Arts Teacher

“There's too much competition for students' attention. Post-pandemic students are still being relied on for child care of siblings and work. The relevance of classes is hard to hold. Getting students' attention let alone engagement is a constant running battle.” – High School Math Teacher

“It is fighting for teachers to be seen, heard and most of all respected by administrators, district officials, students and parents. It means fighting for what I know is right for myself and my students and being able to say no.” – Middle School Math Teacher

How can communities better support their teachers?

“Parents can work with schools to support students in their growth, acknowledging that we are one community who cares about all students, and trust that we will support their student even when they make mistakes.” – Middle School English Language Arts Teacher

"Helping get parent support and realize we have the best in mind for your kids.”

Middle School Math Teacher

“Let’s intentionally build and reinforce systems to create staff belonging and well-being. When staff feel heard, respected, appreciated, and taken care of, they will feel more belonging to the school and profession, and pass that on to their students.” – High School Science Teacher

“Perhaps offering salaries that match other positions in tech, medicine, and highly respected areas in the private sector can make a difference.” – High School Spanish Teacher

The Heart of Teaching

“Teachers do the job because they love some aspect of teaching but (you can) take that love away because of feeling overwhelmed. I'm new and love teaching very much. However, I foresee a very rough time ahead unless we can think realistically about whether or not we're actually doing anything for our kids in using the same system of education as we are.” – Middle School Science Teacher

“I’m still here after 12 years. It’s my gift, and it’s my passion. I feel that to walk away would be abandoning the gift I have been given. BUT I have had to work really hard to put up boundaries, and truly learn to disengage over the last 4-5 years. Otherwise it is all-consuming and will swallow you whole. … You don’t have to say yes to everything. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don't have to be amazing 150% of the time. … To me, the heart of it comes back to, ‘Are we making decisions that’s best for kids?’” – High School English Teacher

“(What’s keeping me in teaching is) the support I receive from other teachers, additional mental health services my school provides, the love of my students, and the hope I have that things will only get better.” – Middle School Science Teacher