Introducing “After the Bell”, a new community for teachers
A weekly advice column for K-12 teachers to share their joys, frustrations, and recurring questions about teaching.
Today, Chalkbeat is launching a weekly column of tips for teachers, by teachers.
It’s been our mission since we began reporting on efforts to improve schools for all children.
We have built close relationships with those of you who are on the front lines of these efforts – the teachers. We have listened to your stories, heard your joys and frustrations, and watched you stand up for your students, your schools, and yourselves.
Although education professionals are not our only audience, you are our largest audience. And we know you need more support, from us, from everyone.
Two years ago, we set out to better understand the needs of educators during a time of unexpected disruption to schools across our country. Our research aimed to answer: what do you need that is not satisfied? What products already exist to help you? What product should Chalkbeat develop to uniquely meet these needs?
In February 2020, we began our research with a survey, “Educator Needs Assessment,” and conducted in-depth interviews with teachers before the pandemic irrevocably altered the education landscape. Our survey updated in August 2021 received over 2,000 responses from teachers like you across the country.
These survey responses made it clear that there has been a big shift in what you need since the pandemic began. Teachers were no longer interested in new curriculum or professional development offerings – you said these markets are oversaturated. Instead, you said that sanity and guidance from your fellow teachers were your two biggest unmet needs.
To verify the results of our new survey, we conducted interviews with teachers, education professionals and journalists. These interviews provided a better understanding of your needs, particularly in terms of mental health.
We knew Chalkbeat could help.
We have learned that you are more tired than ever.
“I’m not appreciated, I didn’t feel like that [before]. Morale is so low not just in my school I made a comment on facebook that I love teaching but I don’t like where teaching is right now and so many teachers have said they were ready to quit. — Chicago elementary school teacher with over 20 years of experience
We heard you’re looking for advice and that teachers inherently trust each other.
Q: When looking for resources, which of the following resources do you turn to most often?
A: 41.8% of responding teachers mentioned teacher forums and 30.5% mentioned school colleagues.
“Top people are so far from trying to help students. I find the best advice from other staff, [I’ll ask them] ‘what would you do in that case?’ – Chicago elementary school teacher with less than five years of experience
You have continued to prioritize the mental health of your students.
Q: What do you need help with?
A: 33.5% of teachers who responded said advice for maintaining student mental health and 31.1% said advice when there are problems in the classroom.
But things changed during the pandemic and you started prioritizing yourself.
“If the needs of the students are met and the needs of the teachers are not met, there will be no teachers — last year I might have said that the needs of the students were greater; this year, the needs of teachers are greater because it domino on the students. —Indiana college professor with less than 10 years of experience
“When our students are not well, we are not well.” — New York high school teacher with less than five years of experience
In response to our survey results, interviews, and the pressing needs you shared with us, we are launching an advice column specifically for teachers, by teachers.
Starting today, veteran educator Dr. Kem Smith will answer your questions based on her own classroom experiences. Meet Dr. Kem here.
“After the Bell” will become the go-to place for you and your colleagues to share your joys, your frustrations and your questions. Subscribers to How I Teach will receive it straight to their inbox. Here’s how to subscribe to How I Teach.
The column’s name was inspired by Chalkbeat intern Katie Hetlage’s experience as a high school teacher.
“There’s a lot of chatter between teachers right after the bell rings, or even between lessons, because you’re standing in the hallways watching the students and we often stood with our neighboring teachers to talk,” she said. .
Chalkbeat’s goal is to make this topic useful, actionable, and shareable. We hope that the focus on teachers will make it a success. We want it to be your place of camaraderie, support and new ideas.
Now we want to hear from you. Submit questions – the author of the letter will remain anonymous – to Dr. Kem via this submission form. What did you discuss with your colleagues? Are there areas of your work in which you needed help but did not receive it? Is there a situation, policy or decision at your school that you have trouble dealing with? Let us know!
Kary Perez is Chalkbeat’s Director of Program Innovation and oversees the research, development and execution of major new initiatives. Contact her at [email protected]