Four Washington teachers share what they believe all parents should understand about their jobs.

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There aren’t enough qualified teachers working in Washington state’s K-12 school system.

A recent Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction study indicated that many vacant teaching positions have gone unfilled, especially in rural areas. Additionally, 58 percent of elementary school principals, 50 percent of middle school principals and 45 percent of high school principals report a crisis trying to find substitutes.

The U.S. Department of Education says Washington doesn’t have enough teachers in at least 17 subject areas, including science, math and special education.

Besides average salaries, large class sizes, and budget cuts as factors driving talented educators toward other jobs, many teachers mention inconsistent support from parents – and school communities at large – as a reason to leave the field.

It’s reasonable to believe if people outside of the classroom better understood and appreciated what teachers do, then teachers would feel more positively about their relationships with parents, as well as their chosen field. The profession would – ostensibly – become more attractive to prospective educators, too.

So, where to begin? Four working teachers share what they believe all parents should understand about their jobs.

Every student is different

“The one thing I would like parents to understand is every student is different; they have different strengths and needs. Therefore, teachers can’t use a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ to instruction or assessment. I’ve designed levels and supports to my lessons which benefit all students, including those at the top. This is not ‘dumbing it down’ or ‘teaching to the middle.’ I have high expectations of all of my students. As a teacher, it is my job to give every student the tools they need to succeed by building on their strengths and supporting them with their needs. This may look different for every student, but the outcome is the same: capable and confident learners!”

Richaundra Thursday

Todd Beamer High School

Federal Way

Teachers care

“Teachers care. Teachers appreciate every ounce of parent support. Every positive parent (or student) email, smile, and ‘thank you’ motivates us. Teaching is an inspiration, adventure and reward.”

Pamela Kennedy

Gifted Science

Bellevue School District

Let mistakes lead to learning

As an educator, the one thing I want to tell every parent is that your child is imperfect – and children are capable of learning and growing radically through mistakes and hardships. When parents intervene at any sign of danger, they are holding their child back from their full potential. You empower your child when you give them the ownership to solve their problem. If we can collectively embrace our children’s struggles and empower them to work through it, we will create a generation of resilient innovators and creative world changers!

Laney Brown

Issaquah

Teaching is part of our life

“I don’t have children yet, but if you looked in my house, you’d think I did. My nightstand and coffee table are filled with your children’s work that I spend every evening carefully grading, reviewing and taking notes on for future lessons. My fridge and my walls are filled with artwork, cards and letters from your children. My spare closets and drawers are filled with extra art supplies, educational games, trinkets for my classroom treasure box, and I have a whole bookshelf full of children’s books (all of which I bought with my own money). Teacher’s lives, and homes, become completely consumed by teaching, but we love everything about it!”

Lindzie Adamson

West Mercer Elementary

Issaquah

WGU Washington is an online, competency-based university designed to expand access to higher education for Washington residents.