Someone once told me that, whatever your fight, you need to go to war with the soldiers you have. Whether forced into an immediate face-to-face combat, or planning to carry out a more strategic initiative in the future, when soldiers arrive at the front lines they should be well prepared to achieve their mission. Those responsible for sending soldiers into battle have the duty to not only train them well, but to ensure they are confident in their ability and are given every resource possible to succeed.

Never is this more relevant than in the time of Covid-19. Yet, every day teachers arrive on the front lines, either virtually or in person, lacking the requisite training and vital resources to win the war of a quality education for all of our children. Feeling inadequate, unsupported and even helpless in this fight, many defect leaving a shortage of teachers on the education battlefield. Sadly, our students become collateral damage in this revolving door of teachers. As with the best soldiers, great teachers are much more than just a warm body.

The reasons teachers defect are many. A June 2019 article by Elizabeth Mulvahill titled, Why Teachers Quit, offers a long list of reasons including: inadequate preparation, class size, lack of resources, building conditions, ineffective administrators, lack of support for discipline, and overall challenging work conditions.

Just as we owe our full support to soldiers entering the battlefield to fight for our freedom, our teachers should enter the classroom with the resources they need to succeed. And, as with the generals on the ground, school administrators must continually motivate and inspire their troops, foster teamwork and collaboration, and be well versed in the rules of engagement. When it comes to education, the rules are always changing. New teachers, especially, cannot be expected to know all of the legal requirements they will be held to. A failed mission is never the fault of the soldiers.

To avoid mass defection and succeed on the frontlines of education, our teachers must be given every possible tool to fill their war chest and achieve their mission: quality student learning. Sending in new troops isn’t the answer. We have to go to war with the soldiers we have.

Jean M. Wallace

Flourtown 

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