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AS I SEE IT - Teachers Deserve So Much More Support By Luka Dehnbostel

Teachers are a very important part of our lives. They help us achieve more than we ever thought we possibly could, but they also shape our careers in the future through positive or negative experiences. They are aware of their impact on our identities, but also unaware to what extent and what we learn isn’t always what they try to teach us.

All that responsibility to look after and shape the future generations, and they are not nearly supported enough. Teachers have bad days, understandably. However, this has a significant negative impact on students’ learning, especially younger children who are still developing. This knock-on effect needs to be taken more seriously. This issue is not necessarily the teacher’s fault, teaching young people can be really frustrating, even more so if they are neurodiverse, as I found out when helping homeschool my younger brother during lockdown. Teachers are doing their best with what they have but I feel there should be a lot more implemented to properly invest into our future.

All that responsibility to look after and shape the future generations, and they are not nearly supported enough.

On the topic of investing in our future, there is not nearly enough funding in the education system with the relentless budget cuts since 2015. That is the root problem for the poor quality of education and the lack of support for teachers and vulnerable or neurodiverse children. There needs to be more funding for education because only then can we have a better future where children from all backgrounds are able to flourish in education. With better funding there can be systems implemented that help teachers educate the future generations.

One of the things that should be implemented in all schools is that teachers should have to attend a basic course to understand and spot mental health issues and neurodiversity, for learning difficulties such as dyslexia.This would help teachers feel more confident in knowing what a child may need to be supported in their learning, rather than being frustrated with the child if they’re not doing as well. It is estimated that close to 40% of the UK population is neurodiverse, so the training would benefit a large number of teachers and children. This training in conjunction with a clear idea of where to send the child for further support can help teachers avoid feeling helpless when faced with a child requiring a different learning approach than others and taking out their frustrations.

Leading on from that, every school should have an educational psychologist and counselling team dedicated to the wellbeing of students and teachers. Their role would be to have a more in-depth look at the issues that teachers identify or students self-report. They would do achievement testing to identify learning difficulties or counselling sessions to look for and work on mental health issues. In some cases, they would refer them to a specialist to be diagnosed, and then taking that into account they would work out a plan that helps the student learn. The team would interact with both the students and teachers to help them out if they have any issues with the plan which can be developed alongside the students' learning. This way, the teacher would have the guidance to work more effectively with the student in the class.

Teachers should also be able to have access to counselling for their mental health, as it is important that they are balanced and have the capacity to work with their students. They are only human, and it cannot be expected of them to be able to regulate themselves consistently, or have the connections to feel emotionally supported in their personal lives. According to the Teacher Wellbeing Index, one in five teachers suffered panic attacks, over half experienced sleeping difficulties or insomnia, 43% suffered symptoms of anxiety, a third showed signs of depression and 41% said they had difficulty concentrating. Counselling is a great tool to help with many of those issues so it would be very beneficial for both the teachers and the students who get taught by them.

Another way to ease pressure off teachers in classrooms is giving them leeway to teach in other ways. For example, a different teaching model, such as double teaching where there are two teachers who share the responsibility of teaching by communicating and splitting up if there is perhaps a group of students needing further explanation about a topic they don’t fully understand. Another teaching model is where you allow students of a higher level or set, work with the lower level or set, at some points to boost both of their learning and give the teacher time to help those really struggling and clarifying things rather than having to explain it over and over to each student. There are also more teaching models and methods which can be adjusted to what suits the class. The benefit to letting teachers structure their class more flexibly means that lessons will be more personalised to their students, and as teachers have a greater understanding of their students, they can structure lessons in ways that are more engaging, exciting and efficacious than the traditional ways of teaching.

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Created with an image by steveriot1 - "teacher property plant"