The pandemic stressed many workers, and a Great Resignation ensued. Teachers weren’t exempt from this mass exodus. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that more than 2/3 of schools noted that their biggest issue was filling teacher positions—especially positions for special education and math.
There is a teacher shortage that is both a symptom of Covid burnout and a result of fewer students pursuing education as their future. Children who receive special education services might be impacted the hardest. These children need the additional help provided by specialized instructors. How can parents help children during a teacher shortage?
What is the Great Resignation?
The Great Resignation is a term that refers to the trend of employees quitting a position to move to another job opportunity. Workers were feeling burned out, underappreciated and perhaps also underpaid. Many opted to quit their job and pursue a more meaningful and fulfilling employment opportunity.
However, while the Great Resignation might have impacted jobs across a variety of sectors, teachers earned their own resignation headlines, with Fortune noting that “K-12 workers are the most burned out employees in America, and it’s a sign the teacher shortage is about to intensify.”
The teacher burnout is serious, and the shortage of teachers is causing others in the profession to rethink their future. A survey on behalf of the national Education Association conducted by GBAO Strategies revealed that more than half of teachers (55 percent) want to stop teaching.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that teachers are exhausted and perhaps at the end of their tolerance. During the pandemic teachers were essential and many had to pivot to virtual learning. When schools went back to in-person learning they suddenly had to help children keep masks on all while teaching with their mask on, too.
Teachers aced a fear of being exposed to Covid; some schools mandated masks, but not all of them had this requirement. Teachers also faced angry parents, politics over masks, and perhaps even constantly changing health guidelines.
How Does the Shortage Impact Parents?
Some schools might not feel as much pressure as others. The shortage impacts each school uniquely. However, the impact to students could be that special-education instructors are handling larger case loads or more students. Children who struggle with reading, math or other subjects might have less one-on-one time.
If parents are concerned about their child’s IEP or 504 Plan and how it could be impacted by a shortage at their school, they could reach out to their IEP lead to discuss if their child’s services will look different. Parents also could ask about how they might provide more help or enrichment for their child at home.
However, children with unique learning needs might require more help and specialized instruction. Not all parents know how to best guide their child on reading instruction or for math. There are apps and programs that parents could utilize at home that are designed to guide reading instruction for children who struggle.
Here’s How to Help Children with Reading at Home
Children who struggle with reading might need more guidance related to word decoding or with reading comprehension. Basic reading strategies might not be effective for children who are reading far below grade level or who have more complicated literacy concerns.
For struggling readers, parents should look for reading programs and apps that are designed to guide the reading journey. Apps and programs should provide auditory feedback to prompt children if or when they struggle with decoding a word. In addition, reading apps or programs should provide tools that measure and guide reading comprehension, too.
Programs should allow the child to start at a reading level that matches their abilities. The base level should not be too difficult or too hard. Ideally, the program should either allow parents to set a child’s reading level or be able to work with the child to discover the best baseline reading level to begin the program.
Parents also might research the cost of available reading programs. Depending on the design of the program or app, the cost could vary. Some programs require a monthly subscription.
Are There Any Free Resources?
Parents who don’t have an additional budget to invest in subscribing to a reading program or to pay for tutoring might research free resources. There could be free tutoring programs at community centers or even at other schools. Some high school students tutor other students as part of community service initiatives.
If parents are unsure how to find help for their child, they can reach out to their child’s teacher. Some teachers might be able to provide guidance to parents or perhaps even know about tutoring programs or other resources within the community.
Parents also could visit the Learning Disabilities Association of America. The LDA’s website offers links to different resources for each state, and the site provides a link related to resources specific to LD/ADHD.
If a child has a specific medical diagnosis like autism, ADHD, or dyslexia, parents also can find communities and organizations that are focused on the learning needs or struggles for their child. These organizations could provide additional resources and help for parents.
The Best Reading Program to Use at Home
Parents who need to use a reading program at home to help their child gain reading proficiency and confidence might find that they are inundated with choices.
Readability provides a lessons-based approach to reading and guides the literacy journey for children who struggle with comprehension or decoding. An AI tutor is the heart of Readability; the AI tutor is programmed with voice-recognition software which allows it to understand each child’s specific tone of voice.
With Readability, children read stories aloud. This allows the tutor to identify if the child is struggling to pronounce a word or just needs encouragement. The tutor provides auditory feedback to ensure the child receives help when they need it.
Parents can set their child’s reading level to begin the program at a baseline that is best for their child. However, if parents don’t know their child’s reading level, the program can work with the child to determine the best baseline level.
As the child reads a story, the tutor also is measuring their reading fluency (words read per minute). In addition, at the end of each story, the tutor leads a short quiz to determine if the child understood what they read.
If a child answers a question incorrectly, the tutor helps them learn how to go back in the text to re-read and find the answer. The tutor will show the child the portion of the story that helps them correctly answer the question. The child will then be given another attempt to correctly answer the question.
Children also are encouraged to explore the story beyond reading aloud. Every book in Readability has a list of vocabulary words to help children grow their language skills. However, children also can tap any word in a story to hear the word’s definition or to hear the word used in a sentence. Each new word is added to the child’s comprehensive vocabulary list, which is always accessible to them.
How do parents know the program is effective for their child? Readability includes a private portal that is only accessible to parents. This portal includes their child’s reading data; parents can see their child’s reading fluency, reading comprehension mastery, their current reading level and how long they used the program.
Parents can review data in this portal to assess how their child is progressing. They also can collate all the reading data into a report that can be sent to the child’s teacher. In this way, Readability helps facilitate communication between home and school to ensure that parents and teachers are on the same page.
Parents who worry that a teacher shortage at their child’s school is decreasing the one-on-one reading instruction for their child could use Readability at home as a resource to help guide their child’s literacy journey. Parents can sign up for a free seven-day trial to explore all the features of Readability and try out the AI tutor, too.