How the Teacher Shortage Will Affect Your Kids—and What You Can Do - (2023)

If you are concerned about your child getting a quality education—and if you’re a person who reads the news at all—you’ve probably heard about what we’ll call the Great American Teacher Shortage. By one estimate, there are at least 36,000 vacant teacher positions and another 163,000+ roles currently being held by under-qualified professionals.

What can you do about it? At a high level, be proactive about seeking intervention and support, work with educators when possible, and learn about alternative educational options if you need them.

For more information on how this is affecting real students and what you should be thinking about as a parent, we spoke to Kris Bowman, Executive Director of the Ramsey Educational Development Institute (REDI). REDI provides early intervention services in Pennsylvania. The earliest years of our lives are crucial to later development and academic performance, so we wanted to discuss how these shortages are affecting the youngest among us.

Bowman explained how preschoolers are being impacted by the staffing shortage, and gave us suggestions that apply to children across the age spectrum.

The State of Teacher Shortages in Early Childhood Education

“The whole world is in a workforce crisis, and for early childhood education and early intervention, it is bad out there,” Bowman says. “Programs are not running at full capacity. They can’t open all the classrooms because they don’t have teachers. Kids are on waiting lists to get in but there are no teachers to staff those classrooms.”

When childcare centers do hire more staffers, she says, it’s usually because they are poaching from other facilities, causing shortages elsewhere. There is not much capacity being added into the system itself.

Bowman believes that the situation for early childhood education is actually worse than in grade school. “All of the issues that have been amplified by the pandemic are worse in early childhood education,” she says.

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How the Teacher Shortage Is Affecting Children

A lack of teachers means that classrooms are under constant pressure—including stressed-out teachers in those classrooms. “We know from the literature that as teachers’ stress goes up, suspensions and expulsions go up,” Bowman says. Believe it or not, plenty of toddlers and even babies face suspension and expulsion from childcare centers.

“It’s a huge problem that’s not on a lot of people’s radars,” she says. It’s hard enough to ask teachers to differentiate instruction for kids at all levels, plan a 12- to 15-hour day, and work long hours for little pay. The more thinly teachers are spread, the less bandwidth they have to deal with challenging students and situations. “Teacher stress and depression are up, and suspensions and exclusionary practices follow suit.”

Preschoolers are actually subject to what Bowman calls “exclusionary practices” at far greater rates than school-age kids. Although childcare centers may not call it a suspension or expulsion, examples include:

  • Out-of-school suspension: “Your child is having a terrible day. He won’t stop crying! Please come and pick him up and we can try again tomorrow.”
  • In-school suspension: “She keeps running out of the room during circle time. I’m worried about her safety, so we’ll need her to sit in the office for 20 minutes every day during circle time from now on.”
  • Expulsion: “Your child isn’t a good fit for our institution. Maybe they’re not ready for school yet, or maybe another program is a better fit.”

Although behavioral issues do need to be addressed, Bowman points out that some of this is typical child behavior. At 18 months, many kids will bite and cry, for example. “When systems and teachers are better supported, kids are taught to express themselves in a different way. But when teacher stress is so high, there’s no bandwidth to do it and families are asked to leave programs.”

Essentially, the greatest impact on children and families is the lack of childcare and educational opportunities. Families with the financial means can find another program if they are expelled from one, but waiting lists due to teacher shortages can delay a school transition. And, of course, families with lesser means are doubly impacted because even if they get on a waiting list elsewhere, it’s unclear if they could afford the alternatives.

In the meantime, many parents have little choice but to stick kids in front of screens because they lack childcare. Bowman says, “Even if there was capacity for kids to shuffle from program to program, kids need routine, consistency. That’s how they learn how to regulate.”

How Parents Can Make Sure Their Kids Have the Right Learning Opportunities

Set Them Up for Academic and Socioemotional Success

Parents can reclaim control by being alert to their own children’s developmental milestones. There are the CDC milestones you’ve probably seen at the doctor’s office, which Bowman says are important although sometimes unduly stressful.

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“They aren’t wrong, but they create a lot of panic in families because it’s a range. They say kids should take their first step around a year but the range is eight to 18 months. That could cause parents to panic.”

Bowman advises parents to look out for key socioemotional abilities that are the building blocks of formal “skills.” She suggests paying attention to:

  1. Eye contact
  2. Engagement with other people
  3. Attention span
  4. Social connection

Especially for kids under age five, academics start with social and emotional skills. “Words don’t just come,” Bowman says. “You get them from interacting with your environment. Engagement, attachment, attention. Those things lead us to words, sounds, sentences, using hands to play, building towers, interacting with peers, all of that.” The ability to regulate our own emotions, and a robust attention span, enables us to engage with the world in ways that facilitate learning.

If you’re feeling any doubts about your child’s development, she strongly recommends scheduling an early intervention assessment sooner than later. All 50 states have early intervention programs, she says, “and the first few years of life are time you’ll never get back.”

In the first few years of life, young children form 1 million neural connections per second. So even delaying a few months can amount to tens of billions of neural connections. If you have any hesitation at all, don’t wait. She says: “If the answer is, ‘Everything looks great and here’s what to look for over the next six months or a year,’ then great. That’s still time well spent.”

Try to Work With the Educators to Find Solutions

If you’re facing suspension or expulsion because of your child’s behaviors or limitations, Bowman recommends taking an active role. Not just pushing back on administrators but trying to act like you’re on the same team (even if you’re feeling upset about the situation). “It’s much harder for a program to kick a child out when they have an engaged parent,” she says.

She recommends asking questions about what’s happening, what you can do at home, and how you and the teachers can work together to address the issues. “If the program sees you trying to work with them and trying to carry those lessons over at home and be part of the solution, it is less likely that the exclusionary practices will happen.”

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Explore Tutoring and Enrichment Activities—Only if You Want to

If you feel like your kid needs more support or enrichment and you have the resources to give that to them, follow whatever feels right for your child. “If you have the opportunity to do that, wonderful,” Bowman says. “The downside could be: Don’t overschedule your child, still let them be a child, and not every minute needs enrichment activities. Enrichment can be as simple as playing kickball outside.”

Pursue Other Paths

When staring down the barrel of large class sizes and a lack of individualized attention, some parents may consider sending their children to private rather than public school, or pursuing a more drastic shift such as homeschooling.

Bowman is not confident that private education will always be the answer to teacher shortages. Teacher support (e.g., wages and benefits) makes a big impact. “Sometimes private institutions have an edge. Sometimes they are a faith-based organization located in a house of worship, and they may not have more resources than the publicly licensed place a block down.”

At the grade school level, private school teachers generally make less than public school teachers. As a result, they may be facing many of the same challenges as any other teachers in a competitive labor market. Private schools may have more lenient licensure requirements, which might enable additional employees to work at a private school because there are fewer hurdles to clear. (That said, you may have your own feelings about more lax requirements.) Speak to administrators to find out what they are seeing on the ground and weigh your options accordingly.

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Homeschooling will need to be a personal decision based on your family’s individual situation. If your children aren’t getting the level of personal attention at school that you’d like, do you feel confident that you could do better on your own? Can you or your spouse tailor your work around having your kids at home? Do you have the expertise or interest in being their primary educators? Do you know other homeschooling families in your community?

Obviously, deciding to homeschool your children is a big decision, and one you probably shouldn’t undertake reactively unless you’re prepared for everything it means.

At the end of the day, not every child is suffering the effects of a teacher shortage right now. Plenty are having happy and educational days at school with quality instructors who care about them. If you decide that your child could use an additional boost, follow your gut, weigh your options, and do what feels right for your family.


How does a teacher shortage affect students? ›

Teacher shortages lead to missed or insufficient learning opportunities. There may be a discontinuity in the delivery of instruction, and key concepts may be overlooked altogether. These occurrences limit the educational opportunities that students can and should receive.

What are some solutions to the teacher shortage? ›

5 Strategies to Tackle Teacher Shortages
  • Boost teacher pay. Raising educators' salaries is one of the most popular strategies states and school districts have used to ease the staffing shortage. ...
  • Partner with teacher prep programs. ...
  • Build bottom-up support. ...
  • Tap into educators' passion. ...
  • Treat students well.
Feb 10, 2023

Why is the teacher shortage important? ›

Among them are pay, working conditions, lack of support, lack of autonomy, and the changing curriculum. The shortage of teachers will inevitably cause a decline in educational standards. The shortage is crucially important to educational outcomes. Class sizes are rising, causing a detrimental effect on these outcomes.

What state has the highest teacher shortage? ›

Illinois has the lowest number of underqualified teachers at 1.17 positions per 10,000 students while New Hampshire has the highest at 348.79. Notably, New Hampshire has not reported teacher shortage areas to the U.S. Department of Education since the 2019-2020 school year, according to the report.

What are 4 reasons that there would be a shortage of teachers? ›

10 Reasons Why There's a Teacher Shortage
  • Parents bubble wrap their children. ...
  • Lack of respect for the teaching career is at an all-time high. ...
  • Solutions are aimed at attracting new teachers and not keeping the old ones. ...
  • We do not wish to be mentally and physically drained each and every day.
Sep 2, 2022

How do teachers affect student performance? ›

Compared to any other aspect of schooling, teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement. A well-trained teacher is likely to send more students to college, and can boost a class's lifetime income by $250,000.

What will do as a teacher to solve the problem? ›

Principles for teaching problem solving
  • Model a useful problem-solving method. Problem solving can be difficult and sometimes tedious. ...
  • Teach within a specific context. ...
  • Help students understand the problem. ...
  • Take enough time. ...
  • Ask questions and make suggestions. ...
  • Link errors to misconceptions.

Why is the teacher shortage a problem? ›

Lack of sufficient, qualified teachers and staff instability threaten students' ability to learn and reduce teachers' effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere.

Why are teachers quitting 2023? ›

Clip: 04/10/2023 | 17m 51s | Staffing shortages, burnout, funding cuts, and debates over the curriculum are adding to the pressures on America's educators. In her new book, bestselling author Alexandra Robbins followed three teachers to see how these issues are changing the way they work.

How important is teachers to us? ›

Teachers are important because they change lives, inspire dreams, and push the limits of human potential. A teacher's job is to nurture, teach, and raise children to become useful to society. Teachers' role in the classroom, society, and the world at large has taken a different turn from what it was back in the day.

Which states pay teachers the least? ›

Where teachers are paid the least
  • Hawaii. Average salary: $47,156.
  • Maine. Average salary: $48,968.
  • South Dakota. Average salary: $49,713.
  • Florida. Average salary: $50,443.
  • District of Columbia. Average salary: $50,556.
Mar 16, 2023

Which state has the best teacher? ›

Here Are the Best States for Teachers In 2023:
  1. Maryland. Maryland. Total Teacher Jobs: ...
  2. Connecticut. Connecticut. Total Teacher Jobs: ...
  3. New York. New York. Total Teacher Jobs: ...
  4. District of Columbia. District of Columbia. Total Teacher Jobs: ...
  5. Illinois. Illinois. ...
  6. Massachusetts. Massachusetts. ...
  7. Michigan. Michigan. ...
  8. New Jersey. New Jersey.
Apr 6, 2021

Are teachers needed in USA? ›

There is no national teacher shortage. Many classrooms have all the educators they need and in some cases never had vacancies to begin with. Yet shortages in many others persist. Staffing levels can vary significantly by state, district, school, subject and grade level.

Why are so many teachers quitting? ›

The findings show that while many teachers find their work rewarding, a majority said they felt exhausted and stressed — with burnout cited as the top reason for leaving the profession.

Why do so many teachers quit teaching? ›

Beyond compensation, these educators also feel overworked and undervalued. Nearly 75 percent of respondents who cite expectations as a top reason they plan to leave say they have too much work to do each day and that there aren't enough teachers to carry the workload.

Why is teaching so hard right now? ›

Teaching is a valuable and rewarding profession, but it can also be tiring and exhausting. Teaching is arguably more difficult now than it has ever been for a variety of reasons, including learner behavior, fast-changing technology, and poor compensation.

How do teachers affect students mental health? ›

They can educate themselves and others on the symptoms of mental health issues, provide a safe environment, encourage good health, and help students access mental health resources.

How do teachers influence child development? ›

Teachers Act as Role Models

Children learn by example from the people around them, and if they have positive role models early in life, they are more likely to mimic the good behaviors they observe. By holding themselves up to a high behavioral standard, teachers serve as positive influences in their students' lives.

How do teachers make a difference in students lives? ›

Educators build students' confidence, inspire creativity, encourage higher education, invite exploration, and encourage competition in events students might not otherwise have thought to do. Students often look to their teachers as mentors because of their experience and knowledge.

How can a teacher best help my child? ›

How Educators Can Help Students be Successful Inside and Outside the Classroom
  • Be Creative. ...
  • Provide Relevant Study Materials. ...
  • Accept All Students. ...
  • Stay Up-To-Date. ...
  • Use a Variety of Teaching Methods. ...
  • Set Achievable Goals.
Jun 17, 2019

How can problem solving help you as a student? ›

Problem-Solving Skills Build Confidence

They learn to look at challenges from a fresh perspective. Therefore, they take more calculated risks. If students practice problem solving consistently, they can develop greater situational and social awareness. Additionally, they learn to manage time and develop patience.

What are the benefits of problem solving skills for students? ›

Students who learn problem-solving skills may see an improved ability to retain and recall information. Specifically, being asked to explain how they reached their conclusions at the time of learning, by sharing their ideas and facts they have researched, helps reinforce their understanding of the subject matter.

How can teachers help students improve? ›

The following are excellent ways educators can provide classrooms with a well-rounded education.
  • Teach Test-Taking and Studying Strategies. ...
  • Let Students Know You're Ready To Help. ...
  • Encourage Questions. ...
  • Spend Time With Every Student. ...
  • Offer Plenty of Praise. ...
  • Help Students Set Personal Goals. ...
  • About PGUI.
Apr 11, 2022

How can teachers improve the students? ›

Establishing the Optimal Learning Environment
  • Having compassion and empathy. ...
  • Creating a secure and dependable structure. ...
  • Ramping up the positive. ...
  • Supporting academic risk. ...
  • Teaching active listening. ...
  • Embedding strategy instruction. ...
  • Building collaborative relationships.

How do you motivate a struggling student? ›

Top 5 Strategies for Motivating Students
  1. Promote growth mindset over fixed mindset. ...
  2. Develop meaningful and respectful relationships with your students. ...
  3. Grow a community of learners in your classroom. ...
  4. Establish high expectations and establish clear goals. ...
  5. Be inspirational.
Jun 4, 2018

Why America's teacher shortage is going to get worse? ›

For starters, shortages are occurring because of increased demand on public schools. As of fall 2017, 50.7 million students were attending public elementary and secondary schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2025, that number is expected to expand to 51.4 million.

How can we improve education in America? ›

5 Ways Policy Makers Can Improve the Quality of Education
  1. Acknowledge and address overcrowding.
  2. Make funding schools a priority.
  3. Address the school-to-prison pipeline.
  4. Raise standards for teachers.
  5. Put classroom-running and curriculum-building decisions in the hands of the community.
Apr 7, 2019

When did the teacher shortage begin? ›

Multiple indicators point toward an educator shortage crisis that has been brewing for more than a decade, since the end of the Great Recession in 2009.

Where are teachers quitting the most? ›

In Washington state, more teachers left the classroom after last school year than at any point in the last three decades. Maryland and Louisiana saw more teachers depart than any time in the last decade. And North Carolina saw a particularly alarming trend of more teachers leaving mid-school year.

Will teachers ever be replaced? ›

Will technology replace teachers? The answer is 'no'. Although, we can safely say that the teaching profession is more enhanced and improved by technology.

Why is teacher burnout so high? ›

Teaching is a rewarding yet demanding career. With long hours and a heavy workload, it's easy to fall prey to teacher burnout. Without proper support, teachers are in danger of being overworked and not taking care of their own mental and physical health needs.

Do we need a teacher? ›

Teachers also expose children to ideas and topics that they might otherwise not have come into contact with. They can expand on interests and push their students to do better. Teachers don't accept failure, and therefore, students are more likely to succeed.

Where are teachers needed the most in the US? ›

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education for the 2022-2023 school year, Rhode Island has the largest teacher shortages in the following subjects: English as a second language, career and technical education, math, science, special education, health and physical fitness, world languages and language arts.

What are the 7 roles of the teacher? ›

The primary roles of a teacher are:
  • Providing mentorship. ...
  • Inspiring learners. ...
  • Nurturing healthy curiosity in learners. ...
  • Creating meaningful learning experiences. ...
  • Leveraging technology to support learning. ...
  • Mediating and liaising. ...
  • Researching learning strategies.

What teacher makes the most money? ›

Professor. When you are looking for the best-paid teaching jobs for your area of interest or specialized skill, then you may consider working as a professor in a college or university. A college professor prepares course material, teaches students in a classroom environment, and grades student work.

What is the Pay teachers Act of 2023? ›

The Pay Teachers Act would triple Title I-A funding, help raise annual teacher salaries to at least $60,000, and help to ensure that teachers are paid a livable and competitive salary across their career.

What country pays teachers the most? ›

Luxembourg. According to an OECD report, Luxembourg (a European country) has the highest-paid teachers in the world. Another source indicates that a bachelor's degree holder is entitled to an initial salary of €67,000 (US $70,323.20) per annum at the start of their teaching career.

Where is the best place to live as a teacher? ›

New York held the No. 1 position partly due to its high rankings in teacher salaries and public-school spending per student — achieving No. 1 in each category. Utah, which carried the second highest ranking in the opportunity category, held the second spot overall behind New York.

Which teachers are most in demand? ›

Which teaching subject is most in demand? While specific needs vary by institution, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are subjects that are always in high demand.

Where is the best place to move for teachers? ›

Best States for Teachers
Overall RankStateTotal Score
1New York59.33
47 more rows
Sep 19, 2022

Who pays teachers in the US? ›

Public schools receive federal, state, and local funding. Pay rates are set at the district level by collective bargaining between the teachers' union and the district.

What is the average salary of a teacher in the United States? ›

The average Public School Teacher salary in the United States is $56,483 as of May 01, 2023, but the range typically falls between $47,169 and $68,884.

How many hours do teachers work in US? ›

On average for all days of the week, full-time teachers worked 5.6 hours per day and part-time teachers worked 2.8 hours per day.

How are students affected by teacher turnover? ›

They may become less inclined to participate in class, leading to a drop in their grades and test scores. Losing educational staff also increases reliance on substitute teachers, who tend to have less experience and lower credentials compared with full-time educators.

What are the challenges faced by student teachers? ›

10 Challenges Of Teaching & How To Overcome Them
  • Understanding the different learning challenges amongst students. ...
  • Student family problems & bullying. ...
  • Lack of funding. ...
  • Lack of effective communication. ...
  • Being encouraging and motivating under challenging times. ...
  • Disciplining students. ...
  • Endless paperwork & extended working hours.

What does teacher shortage mean? ›

The Nature of Current Shortages. A shortage is typically defined as the inability to fill vacancies at current wages with individuals qualified to. teach in the fields needed.

What type of areas and schools suffer from teacher shortages? ›

Schools with increased staffing difficulties include central-city schools and low-income schools. central-city and low-income schools. rural schools. teachers in high-minority schools tend to be higher than low-minority schools.

How does teacher burnout affect children? ›

In other words, teacher stress due to burnout is transferred to students as evidenced by their stress cortisol levels, resulting in poorer performance. Another study found that teacher exhaustion contributed to higher levels of cynicism in students, defined as their negative and detached attitudes toward schoolwork.

Do high teacher turnover rates have a negative effect on children's development? ›

A Head Start study found that young children who experienced high teacher turnover had fewer gains in vocabulary and literacy, as well as increased behavioral problems as reported by parents, than their peers who had more continuity with their educators.

How does teacher motivation affect student achievement? ›

According to Self-Determination Theory (SDT), teacher motivation affects student motivation indirectly via teaching practices that support the satisfaction of students' basic psychological needs, but studies have not shown evidence of this entire sequence.

What is the greatest challenge teachers face today? ›

One of the most common and pressing classroom challenges for teachers is the fact that some students are not receiving adequate support outside of the classroom. While teachers can work with students while they're at school, students need support from their parents as well.

What are the 9 challenges our students face in school? ›

Nine challenges students face in school are poverty, homeless families, child abuse and neglect, bullying (including cyber bullying), violence, obesity and eating disorders, sex and pregnancy, suicide, drugs, and dropping out. This article reviews the first two challenges: poverty and homeless families.

What is the hardest part of student teaching? ›

Perhaps the biggest challenge for education students is completing their student teaching requirements. Students are paired with a cooperating teacher to gain extensive experience in the classroom and prepare for teaching classes of their own.

Why are so many teachers quitting right now? ›

Our broader research on the Great Attrition shows that workload-related stress and toxic managers caused many people to leave their jobs during and after the pandemic. Across industries, 70 percent of people noted that they define their purpose through their work, which is also true for educators.

What is the demand for teachers in the future? ›

Employment of high school teachers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. About 77,900 openings for high school teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.


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