World Teachers' Day amid COVID stress even more meaningful

Teachers mold future generations and touch dozens of lives on a daily basis. Tuesday, October 5 marks World Teachers' Day, a day to say thank you. 
 
The day is meant not only to celebrate educators but to reflect on the dynamic issues they're facing.

Teachers inspire, educate, nurture and do so much more. While they may have returned to the classroom for in-person learning, there's no ignoring the challenges faced during the pandemic.

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"If you take it at the platitude level, everyone is in favor of teachers, and everyone says hooray for teachers," said Alan Borsuk, Marquette University. "I think this is a time when it needs to be taken much more seriously than that because the teaching profession is facing very serious issues."

Borsuk, a senior fellow at Marquette, says this year, World Teachers' Day needs to be recognized like no other.

"The stress on teachers is enormous, and teachers are feeling it," said Borsuk.

From adapting to virtual learning and supporting students from a distance, Borsuk believes value, respect and appreciation should be shown.

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"We talk about kids needing emotional support, and social support and having challenges with their mental health," said Borsuk. "Teachers are feeling it, too, and it’s showing up in turnover and it’s showing up in how difficult it is to fill jobs."

Putting staffing shortages and resources aside, he suggests focusing on the intangibles.

"Taking steps to make sure schools have healthy environments," said Borsuk. "The biggest reasons teachers leave the job are not money and benefits. Its work satisfaction, and sense of accomplishment and a sense of being supported. Support the teachers. Don’t engage in this polarizing and damaging set of dynamics going on out there. Act like you value education and your child will act like he or she values education."

In addition to recognizing the value of teachers, Borsuk encourages more people and diverse groups to be part of the workforce, adding that the number of people who are currently being trained at universities and colleges to become teachers is way short of what's needed. 

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