Skyrocket Directors of Leadership Development Featured in Education HQ

Jun 14, 2023

Skyrocket's Directors of Leadership Development, Tiffany C. Holmes Ed.D and Sharifa Edwards, wrote an informative piece called, "The Teacher Shortage is Not an Excuse," that was published by Education HQ. Please read the article in full below, or find it at Education HQ.


The Teacher Shortage is Not a Valid Excuse

By: Tiffany C. Holmes, Ed.D and Sharifa Edwards


Australia is currently grappling with a profound teacher shortage, with statistics painting a

worrisome picture of the situation. According to recent reports, there is an estimated shortfall of

over 10,000 teachers across the country, leaving schools struggling to fill vital teaching

positions. The problem is particularly acute in rural and remote areas, where the shortage is

even more pronounced. In fact, data reveals that around 25% of rural schools have at least one

unfilled teaching position. Additionally, the attrition rate among teachers is alarmingly high, with

approximately 30% leaving the profession within the first five years of their careers. Recently,

teacher shortage has been synonymous with the Covid-19 Pandemic; however, this issue is not

a new one. “Teacher numbers and resourcing, unequal access and outcomes and widespread

student disillusionment, disengagement, and mental ill-health are not new — but have been

blatantly exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic” (Longmuir, 2023).


While the teacher shortage is a significant challenge, it should not be used as an excuse for

subpar performance or a lack of accountability. School leaders must take responsibility for

managing their schools and ensuring that all staff members meet basic expectations. Failure to do so ultimately harms students and undermines the hard work of dedicated teachers.


In recent coaching sessions with school leaders, I have noticed a troubling trend where the

teacher shortage is used as an excuse to avoid taking full responsibility for their leadership

roles. I’ve heard phrases such as, “I can’t do that; there’s a teacher shortage,” “I’m giving my

teachers grace because of the shortage,” and, “I can’t risk losing Teacher X because of the

shortage.” This mentality has allowed some teachers to neglect basic responsibilities without

fear of repercussions. In the most extreme cases of insubordination, I’ve seen some teachers

openly state that they were not going to create or submit lesson plans; arrive late to school with

Starbucks coffee in hand, and walk away from administrators giving them feedback. The

teacher shortage should not be an excuse to avoid holding adults accountable and to dodge

uncomfortable conversations.


Might I argue that if leaders start addressing these offenders regularly, it will increase the

aligned teachers’ allegiance to you? When everyone sees that the teacher who strolls in late

every day or doesn’t hold up their weight on the team is being held accountable, the others will

feel heard and seen. Those that are not meeting the bar will either get better or leave. Either

way, the idea of having “just a body’ in front of kids is criminal. Their presence damages the

adult and student culture of the school and impacts student learning in a negative way.


I want to be clear, the teacher that’s always late and always missing deadlines probably doesn’t

want to be that person. They may be disorganized or overwhelmed at home. They could have

every intention of being a star teacher but is somehow always missing the mark, and all they

need is some coaching, development, and support. However, you won’t know until you ask. It

starts with a conversation.


These conversations are not always easy and never comfortable. However, it is a critical part of

your leadership development to hone the skills to manage accountability and have crucial and

productive conversations with staff. It is important to remember that accountability is not about

being mean or unreasonable but about ensuring that all members of the school community are

meeting their obligations to students.


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