Unpacking the Impact of School Climate and Culture on the Teacher Shortage Crisis

In this podcast episode, the hosts Amanda and Trina, both teachers, are joined by guest Jessica Martin, a teacher, author, and entrepreneur. They discuss climate and culture in schools and its impact on the teacher shortage crisis. Jessica shares her diverse teaching experiences and insights from her social media followers, revealing that many teachers feel demoralized and burnt out. The conversation covers the challenges faced by educators during the pandemic, the emotional toll of student behavior, and the struggle for fair contracts and working conditions. The episode concludes with a message of solidarity among teachers and the importance of advocating for change in the education system. Jessica’s social media engagement is also highlighted, with a mention of her Instagram handle so teachers listening can follow her: whimsical_teacher.

Teachers are NOT the Problem, They are Part of the Solution

We are losing qualified teachers at a staggering rate. But, to be clear, teachers should never be blamed for the teacher turnover problems our country is facing. The shortage of teachers in America and the decrease in college students seeking a teaching career is a multifaceted and complex problem. 

The Teacher Shortage Crisis Series

In this limited podcast series, we discuss exactly what got us to this crisis point in the U.S. education system. Click the links below to be directed to that part of the series. We recommend listening in order. 

1. Pay Scales for Teachers are Oppressive and Outdated

2. A Discussion with a New Teacher Who Chose to Leave the Profession

3. The High Cost of Becoming a Teacher

4. How Red Tape is Exacerbating the Problems

5. Outsourcing Teacher Expertise to Canned Curriculum

6. An ESL Teacher’s Stand Against Canned Curriculum and the Shocking Consequences

7. True Educational Equity Reforms Aren’t Happening and the Repercussions are Severe

8. Gender Equity Issues in K-12 are Undervalued and Neglected

9. Courageous Teachers Speak Out Against a Serious Problem Being Overlooked in K-12 Schools

10. Forgotten Narratives from the Frontlines of the Reading Wars

11. The Revealing Reality Struggling Readers Face in the U.S. Public Education System

12. Our Public Education System is in Crisis and the Solutions are Obvious

Stay tuned for the last few episodes wrapping up this limited podcast series!

In this series, Trina, along with myself, and many other educators from diverse backgrounds will explain the many layers of what is really going on. The shortage of special education teachers and math teachers is impacting schools (especially in low-income urban areas) tremendously. But, it’s important for teachers to understand the extent of this crisis. We are losing teachers in all subject areas. 

We want to give teachers an extensive look at this problem from teachers’ perspectives. This is so teachers listening can share this series with other teachers, school leadership, the media, and even the governor of their state. The need to examine the causes of the national teacher shortage has never been more important.

Amanda (00:00:00) – Okay. This is a monumental day because I have two of my all time favorite teachers in one zoom room right now, and I like I’m truly thrilled, and my heart is full of love and joy because, as usual, Trina English is here. my co-host, but also my other co-host on another podcast that’s kind of gone dark radio silence for a while. but my other co-host on another podcast about being a teacher, author and entrepreneur, the Wacky Teacher co-host Jessica Martin, the whimsical teacher who is representing Nevada and Vegas and has, like teachers all over the world that you’re friends with because you are like a teacher. You have, you have a very big platform on Instagram. and you’ve built it for many years and you, are in touch with a lot of teachers around the world. And we’re so thankful that you’re here today, to kind of share with us other perspectives from other teachers around the country, the United States, because, Trina and I have been really wanting more voices about this topic of the teacher shortage crisis.

Amanda (00:01:27) – And so, Jessica Martin, tell us about you. Like, how long have you been a teacher? where have you taught, like, tell? I don’t know, give us your your your story. your teacher story. I’m so happy to thank you for. Thank you for having me.

Jess (00:01:43) – Amanda and Trina. I’m happy to be here. I had to actually write out all the schools I’ve worked at this morning because there’s so many I forgot. I’ve worked at seven schools only in Nevada. I’ve worked all over Nevada. It’s actually most people think it’s just Las Vegas, but it’s the seventh biggest state land mass wise. And I know that’s a really teacher thing to like bring up. But it’s it’s actually a big state. I’ve worked in four different districts and I’ve served a variety of different students. So I worked on a reservation in a very small K-12 school where there were about ten kids per grade level. I taught fifth and sixth grade there, and I’ve worked in really small, rural towns of a couple thousand people, and I’ve now working in the fourth biggest, fifth biggest school district in the country.

Jess (00:02:39) – We’re sort of tied with Miami a lot of times. Clark County School District, I’m not scared to say it. It’s Las Vegas, it’s the whole city of Las Vegas. And all of its surrounding areas are Clark County School District. We are very notorious. We’re usually on the news for things. It’s a gigantic district. There’s something like 50,000 employees and 350,000 students. And and now I’m, you know, I’m kind of working where as most of my career, I worked in a rural setting. now I’m working in an urban setting, for sure. And so, yeah, I’ve worked with all different types of students. So my current school, there’s about 700 students and most of the students are black and Hispanic. I am a white teacher. And yeah, so I’ve just I’ve worked with a lot of different kinds of populations all over the place. And I think I have kind of a good feel on on the topic today, climate and culture, because I’ve worked at so many different schools with so many different types of students, under so many different administrators.

Jess (00:03:48) – And and as you so kindly mentioned, I do have a social media platform where I try to stay in tune with what’s happening with teachers. So there’s my little intro.

Amanda (00:04:01) – And how many years have you taught and and what grades have you taught? Again.

Jess (00:04:05) – I’ve taught 13 years and I’ve taught, let’s see, I had to write this down to I’ve taught fourth grade through eighth grade, so fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth. But now I’m teaching kindergarten through fifth library. So I’ve taught K through eight. I’ve taught every single grade level and I can dish on all of them. Okay. So for high schoolers like you.

Amanda (00:04:28) – Yeah. And I’m. Yeah, I dish on the high schoolers I have been. But Trina, you wanted to kind of talk about, well, what is because this episode is about climate and culture in schools and how, that’s related to the teacher shortage crisis. and I feel like, Jess, you could have said a lot about our reading instruction episodes. Well, let’s.

Trina (00:04:50) – Have her on. I’m listening to this rad woman speaking like I’m so glad you’re here. Yeah. You’re amazing. I love you.

Amanda (00:04:59) – And she’s funny.

Trina (00:05:03) – But do we want. Do we want me to say what? What the heck climate culture is for those of us who aren’t teachers who are listening. yeah. Because like so many of the, like, vocab in edX, you speak for K12. It’s a really insular term. It’s a weird term, right? We use it so much, we get used to it. and I was doing some reading, some scholarship on the term climate and culture and how it’s been sort of assessed in K-12. And, it sounds when we use the term climate and culture, it sounds like it’s, a set of circumstances that are like beyond our control, like the weather. And it’s not right. the term refers to the climate, which is how a campus feels in a given moment. And the way you experience a campus could be very different depending on your unique situation.

Trina (00:05:58) – If you’re a student, if you’re a student from a historically marginalized identity, if you’re classroom teacher, if you’re a principal of your office staff. Right. that can be very different. But there’s also a I usually go through line of what’s going on there, but then the culture is the way the school functions and operates historically. Right? So those are the two things what it really is, is just how a site feels and how it operates, how communicative everyone is, how how much the degree to which a staff or students buy into the vision, the leadership, the efficacy or if it’s sort of a dog and pony show for a lot of us, we say one thing and we do another. We code switch between what we hear management saying and what we hear the kids and parents saying versus what we know really happens on the ground floor. So but it also is code coded language for like how chaotic and unsafe a campus might feel. So, the bigger problem. Two. And I’m just going to say this and I’m going to let just go is a lot of school sites and districts doctor their climate and culture data by not, coding in and entering into their different online systems, all the student referrals, the correct discipline codes to make everything look good on paper later, and maybe another time I’ll share a really messed up situation I found myself in when I was in a very low income school, and I got a phone call from the ombudsman’s office.

Trina (00:07:37) – But we’ll share that later. It’s like it was about the fact that my site was not, documenting all the referrals I was writing, and I didn’t know that. So anyways, that’s what it means.

Jess (00:07:52) – Actually I kind of was searching what it meant before the show to make sure I had it clear my mind. And, you know, from everything that I read, the climate is really how people feel, but it’s how they perceive things and everyone perceives things differently. So that’s that’s something that kind of was in the back of my mind, like, like when I go to a school, I might totally love a certain kind of environment, certain personalities, certain warmth, whereas other people see other things. I really think it depends on our own experience as humans, what we’ve been through for what kind of climate we like. And then I was reading about culture and so much of that as having a shared vision and goals as a school like everyone has like a purpose for being there.

Jess (00:08:42) – And it’s really clear and, and I feel like that’s where it gets that’s where it’s like you kind of know if you like being at your school or not. Like, I kind of like this place or you kind of don’t, or you’re kind of in between. But then the culture part, that’s where it gets a little more complicated. That’s what I was reading about this morning, is I wanted to make sure I was I was kind of clear on the on the topic.

Amanda (00:09:05) – Yeah. Wow. Yeah. I, I did not search these terms. And honestly, Trina, you talk about us using these terms all the time. I don’t even think I heard this term until you said it.

Trina (00:09:19) – Yeah.

Amanda (00:09:20) – It’s like, I really don’t think I have, but,

Trina (00:09:25) – I don’t know if it’s a newish term or not. Yeah, but it’s I it was a lot. It was discussed a lot in my last site on my last district because we had a climate and culture problem. So if it becomes a problem, then there’s a lot of like leadership discussion around how do we fix this climate and culture problem, which is really just don’t enter your out of class referrals and don’t suspend kids or.

Amanda (00:09:51) – That buy a canned, buy a canned curriculum.

Trina (00:09:54) – They buy a canned character education program.

Amanda (00:09:58) – Our kids are misbehaving and it’s their fault and we need to fix them with this can thing we bought and spent a lot of taxpayer dollars on that doesn’t get buy in because it’s too cheesy. I’m just going to say that. Okay. so I think we have a good I don’t know, I do feel like a lot of systems that leaders put in place to, like, get a handle on culture is just not it’s just not the bi and never really happens because it’s not incorporating like, kids voices, you know what I mean? It’s more like, let’s fix you, you, you know, this is how you behave. The four hours. I don’t know. But just so I’m curious, just like you said some things about you did a little research, but maybe do you of your of your followers, and you collected some data on, like, their perspectives of, climate and culture, but you also have your own personal stories.

Amanda (00:11:10) – and Trina came up with some questions, and I don’t know if we want to start there. what do you think? Like, because, Trina, your questions are about justice. Current campus. But I wonder if you want to tell us. Maybe. I don’t know, like, do we want to focus? I’m all over the place. I’m sorry. I’m not being a very good host.

Trina (00:11:33) – It’s okay, I think, because I wasn’t sure when Jess got on if she was going to be disclosing her identity or not. So, And she’s coming armed with the experiences of her, her followers on Instagram. And so I’m just going to let you go, Jess, and characterize what your wonderful teacher followers are saying. Give them a voice here.

Jess (00:11:57) – Fantastic. So before the show, I, you know, I typed out all the schools I had worked at, and I’m thinking about all the principals I’ve worked with and just kind of like how I felt at those different schools. And I definitely had really great experiences where I would work at that school again in a heartbeat.

Jess (00:12:13) – And I’ve had horrible experiences where I went screaming from that school, and I never want to hear the name again, where I have like PTSD from the bad things that happened to me at that particular school. And so I had to think about that. And for me, I was like, I was kind of typing out some of my thoughts and I was just like, gosh, I mean, when I look back at all of my experiences at all the different seven schools I’ve taught at, the ones I like, the ones I did it so much of the time, I feel like it wasn’t necessarily the location or the kids, like the students of that school or the parents at that school. That was kind of making me feel a certain way about the school. It was the admin, it was the principal. I feel like they kind of have like an umbrella that they pop up over the school, and then everyone sort of follows suit. And I’ve just had really negative, toxic, umbrellas. I’ve been under those and then I’ve had some really, you know, positive and nurturing and, and amazing like, innovative umbrellas.

Jess (00:13:20) – I’ve been under those and I, I feel like so much of it is what the principal puts out there, but maybe that’s a little bit me, because when I asked my social media audience, they were a little more clear that they feel like it’s a combo deal with, they feel like it’s really that you could have a really good principal and have a really bad culture at the school. They felt they feel like it’s more of a combo, and I actually gave them a little. First I asked them, you know, what do you want me to know about the culture and climate at your school? And whew, it was all bad. And I get a single good comment. But I suppose when people people want to talk about when they’re when they’re hurting, they would rather talk about their pain points than if they were having a good time. They’re probably not drawn to this question. Right? Yeah. So but like I was I was kind of surprised. Like, the word toxic came up probably about 25 times this.

Jess (00:14:21) – I just post this question three hours ago. Wow. So just like I said, what is the climate and culture like at your school? toxic thumbs down. every man for themselves. It’s total trash. Every day something new is added to our plates and our plate is too heavy to carry. the teachers hold everything together at my school, and the admin are oblivious to what’s really happening. Let’s see. Admin is so scared of parents that nothing ever gets done. Like, oh, I kind of feel that one. Just a little bit. I feel underappreciated, stressed out. It’s the worst it’s ever been. Horrible. Morale is at an all time low among teachers due to inadequate admin and, And then there I got a couple people that working at charters that they switched from public school to charter, and they said it’s even worse. And people warn them about leaving public school and going to a charter, and they’re saying that they can’t wait to leave and go back to a public school, which I thought was really interesting.

Jess (00:15:32) – Sometimes people are like, well, if I don’t like this situation, maybe I can go to a new situation, maybe it’ll be better. But it seems to be like a problem across the board. And then another word that came up a lot kind of broke my heart, a little bit demoralizing. And several people said, I wish I could go back in time and choose a different career because I would. So it was it was pretty bad. Burnt out kids are done, teachers are done. And we are asking this in April at the end of the year, right? So it’s probably going to be kind of so and that’s that’s that that was the thought. And then so then I asked, are you happy? With the climate at your school. So the choices were, yeah. It’s great. it’s just okay. 25% of the time it’s bad. Like, it’s mostly okay, but there’s there’s a lot of bad, right? Or it needs work. It’s very iffy there. Or my school is horrible and sets just in the last three hours I’ve had, probably about 250 people answer and over half have said, my school is just okay.

Jess (00:16:45) – Like they think their school is okay, but it could use improvement. And then I asked the question, how do you feel about the culture at your school? Do you have shared beliefs and values? So about the same amount of people answered and it was about the same result. It was like, I think we have a little bit but not much. which is better than like I put one of the answers was like we struggle with a unified vision. We don’t know why we’re there. Very few people answered that. So just a lot of people feeling very yucky right now about the profession but not not as bad. I thought it was going to be a 0% across the board. And then I asked people, and so you had brought this up in all the schools I’ve worked at, and this could just be because of the state I live in, because I live in Nevada and it has close proximity to, Utah, which is, a state with a lot of, Mormon people. And a leader in me is a big program there.

Jess (00:17:52) – It’s huge. It has a lot of ties with the Mormon church. And, I could just be me because of where I am. But every school I’ve been at has bought leader in me. So you mentioned that earlier in the, in the, in the cast. So I said the only work I’ve ever done, I told my audience this, I’m like the only work I’ve ever done, like to fix a climate and culture. Every single school I’ve been at, they’re like, we need to fix this. And the only solution I’ve ever seen is leader in me and I. I just put that out into the world. And I was really surprised. Half of the people I told, they’ve never even heard of it. And I was like, is it just like, because I’m in Nevada, is this kind of like a West Coast kind of mentality, or are people in Nevada more likely to adopt it because we have a higher Mormon population, right. Next to Utah, and that’s where it originated from.

Jess (00:18:47) – That’s where their corporate headquarters are, I do believe. so, yeah, it’s kind of interesting. And someone said, and when I said, does anyone have like anything to say about leader and me as like a fix for climate and culture? Somebody said, yeah, it’s a cult, which I thought was hilarious because I’ve always lowkey kind of believe that. So like, oh, well, see, I’ve always been like it is.

Trina (00:19:16) – Oh, I love your followers. They are a rebel. Wonderful people. That is rad. Can you tell us what in the heck is leader in me? Because what we have is, I’ve seen character counts.

Amanda (00:19:31) – Character strong, character strong.

Trina (00:19:34) – Like this idea that kids don’t have character, they don’t have their own values. They’re an empty vessel that we need to pour knowledge into. It’s so messed up. The philosophies, the underlying beliefs that are go into these things. what is leader in me?

Jess (00:19:51) – Leader in me is actually a business program, that was developed to try to, you know, teach business leaders how to be more profitable.

Jess (00:20:01) – And it’s called the probably heard of it before. It’s called the Seven habits, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And then they came out with the seven Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers. And now they have like the seven habits of Highly Effective students. And so it’s all based on the seven habits. And it’s like, be proactive. Begin with the end in mind. keep make first things first. It’s just like having priorities in your life. But it is quite a complicated system. And they seem to like every year, like when you sign up as a school, you have no idea what’s ahead. I mean, they have 20 years of programming laid out like there’s no end in sight. It’s not like you just learn the seven habits and then everyone at your school is cool. All of a sudden, no, no, I mean, it goes on and on and on. So every time I hear like, I’m like, yeah, I know the seven habits. I’ve had them posted in my room for 13 years, because every single school I go to seems to think it’s going to fix everyone.

Jess (00:21:05) – And the idea is like one you share a common language with kids. Like, you know, when they’re being silly or weird, you’re like, are you being proactive?

Amanda (00:21:16) – Well, that’s a three question.

Jess (00:21:18) – That doesn’t seem very proactive, does it? And the idea is that they’re all of a sudden going to stop being kids and just be proactive. Little adults do exactly what you want them to do.

Amanda (00:21:31) – I told you, she’s hilarious.

Trina (00:21:33) – Oh she’s awesome. You’re awesome.

Amanda (00:21:36) – She’s the whimsical teacher. She’s famous.

Trina (00:21:39) – I’ve always felt like character education is like taking all the problems of a climate and culture or even like, just like assessment, student assessment, data issues and blaming the kids and saying there’s something wrong with you. We’re perfect. So we have to give you education to teach you how to be respectful and manage your time well, fix you so that you can fit into this system we have created that’s oppressing all of us.

Jess (00:22:09) – Yeah, and it is like that. I mean, that’s what I believe about seven habits, too.

Jess (00:22:12) – I mean, it’s great for adults, like when you’re grown up and you have a job and you need to get a job on time. But like some of the kids that I work with, I mean, I have a high population of foster kids. You wouldn’t believe the things they’ve been through. And like, I’m sorry, but like, the leader in me jargon does not erase 8 to 10 years of traumatic abuse and really outlandish situations that we can’t even imagine what some of them have been through, like some really harrowing stuff. And then we’re just kind of shoving this vocabulary down their throats, the adults and like, white collar corporate jobs think is great. I mean, it’s really silly, you know, it’s like I mean, it does give us a common language, gives us something to say, I guess. But like, does it really help anyone at all? It’s just there. I mean, it’s just like a band aid, you know, like. And the, the leader in me people, they just, like I said, they have 20 years of programming to shove down your throat.

Jess (00:23:17) – And I’m just I’m looking at it like, wow. I mean, like some of these kids I’m working with, they got a lot bigger problems than learning these words, you know? And it’s like a, like severe emotional trauma that they’re going through. And I mean, I feel like they just need adults to like, you know, love and care for them and be stable and have like some fun things to do once in a while. That’s my opinion. It’s just like they just need someone to care about them and create some creativity, some fun. Give them something to look forward to. I mean, honestly, I’ve been doing the seven habits for 13 years. I don’t do them myself, but I’ve been teaching them right and I’m just fine not doing them like I turned out great.

Amanda (00:24:05) – You do it in a way that connects with kids and that’s why you’re amazing, you know? And that’s why we did lose you. You’re you’re not a teacher anymore. You left teaching, but you’re.

Amanda (00:24:16) – What are you doing now? You’re still working with kids and you’re still in the public education system. And I don’t think you mentioned that, but you’re the kind of teacher we cannot lose, you know, because you know what’s right. And you, you. Yeah. Like, it’s not that complicated. Like what?

Jess (00:24:34) – You haven’t lost me. I mean, I have 700 students. I’m the librarian at my school, so I do teach six classes a day. I teach six class a day. But, I mean, losing me as a classroom teacher, maybe because I’m not really forming those kind of deep bonds and relationships with kids, I only. See them once a week for like 45 minutes. So, I mean, but I do feel like I can still be a really positive part of their life. And I try to create all these fun contests and things in the library, give people something to look forward to. You know, something that they really want to do. And I have my little library groupies.

Jess (00:25:09) – So, I mean, I feel like I have, you know, I feel like I’m still creating fun and stuff, but it is a little different than being a classroom teacher. I guess more classroom teachers could be a little whimsical and weird. We’ve talked about that before, right?

Amanda (00:25:24) – Yeah, and I think that’s what what we need, we don’t need to buy these canned character education curriculums. But I don’t know, some teachers might disagree that we do need like, a uniform. Like Trina, you’re always talking about global messaging, but we also need buyin. And like, no one’s buying into this stuff and just named. Why? no. You know. No, because.

Trina (00:25:46) – They’re they’re they’re curriculums, if you will, that are made by like, the one we have in our district. I’m not, worried about going on record and saying that I don’t like character strong. It is a curriculum made by white males from the Midwest. It has no place in a classroom filled with, Asian students and students who are recent immigrants from different locations throughout India.

Trina (00:26:15) – It is completely irrelevant and it throws around this word respect as if respect looks consistently the same right in every demographic population. And that’s not true. What character education is doing is forcing our children to fit the very narrow, WASPy definition of a good person, as if there’s only one way to be a good person and it has to look like this. And by the way, you acting and looking like this makes our school system work, then you buy into all the other crap we’re selling. You know, it’s just forcing kids to fit into a mold that they don’t fit into. And it’s, insisting that kids adopt a cultural reality that isn’t there, is it doesn’t. And I what I heard just talking about, too, is like, there is trauma, real trauma that these kids are playing out, in our classrooms. And instead of naming that trauma and giving them the real mental health services that they need to deal with it, and facing up to the fact that our system has failed them and not just K-12, all the social safety net that’s supposed to exist around, our students, our children, that has failed, right? Instead of fixing those problems and naming those problems, we’re telling the kids there’s something wrong with them and we’re going to force them to act and look a certain way.

Trina (00:27:37) – These things don’t work. It’s just like, you know, the cueing method of reading instruction. There’s a bunch of excuse me, just excuse. You don’t have to, but there’s just a bunch of bullshit that we have bought into that it has. No. And I think even specifically with character and SCL type programs, the data is even murkier. You can really cook the books on that crap.

Amanda (00:28:01) – So well and I want to say WASPY. I went and looked it up because I was like, what is she talking about? WASPY is white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant. and so like, all of these like, things that we’re buying are usually, you know, WASPY type, programs. I want to get back to what Joss was saying because she, she was surprised that because she was saying she felt that in all our schools, because I’ve taught at 5 in 5 districts, one of them are charter. And it was a nightmare. Yeah, I don’t recommend, but some might not be I don’t know, I can’t.

Amanda (00:28:42) – It was one charter school in San Diego, a really big one. and it was a nightmare. And we all, all the teachers there were miserable because of admin. So like, I have the same experience, like the admin, I feel like we’re the problem. But your social media followers and the people that were answering your questions, you said we’re blaming other aspects too, like the students, the parents, the teacher, and like culture. When you say culture, I feel like that is many people, right? Like we all impact each other. and I guess it’s the admin that begin the culture, right? Like, and that’s maybe why we feel like they have so much responsibility when it comes to like developing a school culture and like it makes sense to me that the first thing they would think of to do that is to go out and buy some research backed, program. Right, like PBIs. And I know Trina, you talked highly actually, or like positively of PBIs. You also have talked positively about civic education and and like its place and like this this podcast is called Empower Students now.

Amanda (00:30:06) – Right. So like I feel like anything that you’re going to go out and look for to help fix or like help like improve your culture. Yeah. Like everyone has to to believe in it, right? The teachers do, the the students do. But it also has to be, something that allows all voices to be heard, you know, and not to be like, like placing blame on students, or trying to, like. Yeah, mold them into something that we think they’re supposed to be. I don’t know. Trina, do you want to talk a little bit about PBIs? And. And I kind of like or.

Trina (00:30:49) – Yeah, I think maybe I’ll say more about PBIs later, because I don’t want to cut into, like, Jess as time and sharing out her thoughts. I’ll just say. Have you heard of feedback, Jess?

Jess (00:31:06) – Yes.

Trina (00:31:07) – Okay.

Amanda (00:31:08) – Oh, so yeah, I hear.

Trina (00:31:12) – The way she said, yes, I get it, I get it.

Trina (00:31:16) – You’re loaded. Yes is beautiful and wonderful. In theory, PBIs can be amazing in there are some problems with even the theory. but in practice it sucks because it is. It stands for positive behavior interventions and supports. Right. And it really, forces the school community to really think about what tier one, tier two and tier three behavioral needs look like the way in which same way we have response to intervention for academic needs, right. And, to really, like, suss out as a community what you’re like global tier one interventions are going to be like, how do you support all students behavior? Like, I don’t want to get too much in the weeds of this right now. The practice, though, is that the way I’ve seen it, practice because I was on my PBS committee and was really buying in to it my last district at my last site, and I was working very closely with the district office lead on it. The problem is that the tier one behavioral interventions, that are supposed to be happening in the classroom, that is enforced.

Trina (00:32:24) – So the teachers are standing there showing up, doing all these like five different things you have to be doing at all times. But then the out of classroom supports the tier two and tier three supports, and some of the tier two supports the stuff you would do in case tier one doesn’t work. Those will still happen in your classroom too, but the out of classroom tier two, tier three supports that are supposed to be provided by admin or the other classified staff. They don’t. They’re not done with fidelity. Right? and so you wind up as a teacher looking like, the enemy, holding the line at the school wide vision around behavioral, interventions. And then when you push the child out into the community to receive those other supports, they’re not well resourced, they haven’t been done well. And if everything falls apart, it just there’s no investment in like the nuance of it. There is also, a really solid I looked at it at one point, plan being, it was being sort of promulgated amongst superintendents about what a tier three, a solid tier three intervention program should look like.

Trina (00:33:35) – And this is a very, very small percentage of your population. This is like 3% or even less of your population that need this. And it’s a school within a school model. And I’ll talk about that at a later time. but unless you’re able to get to the heart of like the, the problems that are happening amongst your tier three kids, these are the kids like that just was describing have been filled by Foster Systems. have suffered abuse. Right. they are they are running around literally and figuratively harming the rest of your school population, triggering them. And there’s a cascading effect, on school learning how safe your campus is. And, and everybody is just sort of running around, sort of getting through a day without a plan around making the campus truly feel safe. I know that’s kind of convoluted, but I wanted to say, too, about civic education. When I was doing my research for my master’s and at leadership, I came across civic education as a and as it’s been written up in K-12 scholarship a lot as a response against character education.

Trina (00:34:44) – Right. So civic education empowers students to use existing school systems to formulate student organizations, to give critical feedback to staff and be empowered to be agents of change. That’s why I like the civic education model. It’s something I’m trying to pitch right now. Get ready to pitch to my school district. These are long conversations. But, so just that’s all this is to say, is that like your cynicism about PBIs is shared? I’m watching my district. I’m watching my site try to get it going, and I’m like watching it. And I’m not on the PBIs committee because I complained too much. They wouldn’t let me be on it. literally, they would not let me be on it. And, I’m watching like a slow moving train wreck. I’m watching them make all the stakes that I that I’ve seen made before. So sorry.

Amanda (00:35:37) – So why do you not like PBIs? Just tell us. Tell us the deed.

Jess (00:35:41) – We would need a 2.5 hour episode for that. But just a little background. I used to work in group homes with disabled adults, and, you know, when.

Jess (00:35:51) – And we used to go to, like, as a group home worker, like working in social work. I would go to PBIs conventions because this is like the main way that we would be trained to try to curb some of their behaviors because it’s all about changing people’s behaviors. A lot of it is based on the work of BF Skinner, who I think is horrible. Yeah, don’t even get me going. I think he’s the worst educational psychologist in the world. And like people worship him and I’m just like, take a deep breath. But I do. Okay. So I do see like in some schools they’re using PBIs and I’ve talked to a lot of teachers that love it, like they swear by it and it’s work for them and a really positive way. I’ve had I’ve had multiple debates with teachers over it. I just think it’s kind of like the whole Pavlov’s dog thing. You’re trying to get rid of a behavior by like giving this tiny reward or some sort of something that. They want.

Jess (00:36:50) – You have to find something that they want, so they stop doing something that you don’t like. And it’s kind of gross, like treating people like dogs, you know? That’s how I’ve always seen it. But I will say that I was forced to use it a couple schools ago. I and I did have someone with extreme behavior. So I can see that in the case of school safety, I did have someone who, you know, they would jump out of their desk, throw things, swear, attack people, and they said I had to use it there. Like, you have to do this and I’m so against it. But, you know, in this extreme circumstance to keep my class safe, I did do it. And some of it did work, right. Some of it works. I mean, you know, it’s it works. I just it makes me feel icky when I hear people using it, like on a school wide basis. Like, I think it should be maybe an individual basis.

Jess (00:37:51) – And we’ve exhausted X, Y, and Z like we’ve done restorative justice and we’ve done this and we’ve done that, and people are scared, like at school. Like, I totally agree that it could be positive, but I’ve also seen it used on a whole school wide level, and it makes me feel a little icky because it’s like teaching kids to be good for a reward. Everything is a reward, right? Oh, if you’re good, you’re going to get these, these school bucks, and then you can go to the school store and go get yourself a pencil and eraser. It’s not really teaching them how to be good. It’s teaching them how to how to be tricky in the system so they get more school books. You know, that’s what I saw in middle school. We had counterfeiters of the school box. We had kids trading the school books for favors. They’ll create their own economy if they if you give them a chance. And a lot of it is I’m not saying all of it, but a lot of it is based on, like, this weird reward system.

Jess (00:38:49) – And it to get rid of something that you don’t want anymore because it’s irritating to the adult in the room. Right. And I just feel like it’s just kind of an icky. But like I said, I’ve had to use I can see like, you can do it. You can scale it down like an individual level, and it can be it can be more positive and maybe help with safety. But on a school wide level, I’m always like,

Amanda (00:39:16) – It seems like a cult. And this is reminding me of ABA Applied Behavior analysis. That is like the number one way that, and it’s actually covered by insurance. It’s like the one therapy that’s covered by insurance for autistic people, kids. and it’s just like that. It’s very extrinsic motivation. We’re going to extinguish the behaviors that we don’t want, the unwanted behaviors. And we’re going to reward the wanted behaviors. You know, we’re going to and I did feel like it was like poking. It’s like poking a kid with a stick, almost like, let’s see if we can get them to like, respond in a positive way.

Amanda (00:40:01) – yeah. Trina. Yeah.

Trina (00:40:02) – The everything just said was like, dead on. I I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the same problems that she is mentioning, like specifically rewarding kids for doing just the most expected things. Oh, you walked across the hallway without, you know, pushing someone down. Here’s your pencil. And and then you like, you give them the box and they go by the I I’ve, I’ve seen it I’ve, I’ve totally seen it. And then they do this thing where they randomly, we’re all supposed to, like, nominate kids who’ve been caught doing court being good or whatever. And then there’s, like a school wide drawing every week, where the kid who everyone knows the kids all know has been, like, cruel on a regular basis to them, is now being rewarded because their name was chosen, because their name was entered 20 damn times by teachers. So. Oh, I caught you being good. Oh, thank God, you know. And so it becomes a farce.

Trina (00:40:57) – It becomes a dog and pony show. And I completely agree. Those are definitely big problems. And also you can set up a victim enemy rescuer triangle, which I was mentioning before where teachers sending a kid out for a very specific safety issue. Their behavior is physically unsafe in a classroom, right. In schools like the ones I’ve worked in before. and then they get, treats and cookies in the office and they get to sit down and talk. And so they’re being reinforced in ways that are icky and gross. And it’s like the overall message here can be we have very low expectations for you. You cannot be better. So we’re going to give you rewards for doing just the most basic things, like showing up to class with your own supplies, like it’s it’s bullshit. But what I do like about it, and this is where I was asking for it at our current. Site. and we’re in the current district I’m in is that it forces the school community to decide what exactly our behavioral expectations are.

Trina (00:41:59) – Clear expectations about how we expect you to behave in the library, in the hallways, in the bathrooms. And it does force teachers to come to some kind of consensus around what are our what are our agreed upon classroom behavioral expectations, because we are all caught up and making sure we’re all doing the exact same thing, with curriculum and lessons and assessment. No, no, no, no, that’s not the thing we should be investing our time in. We should be investing our time in creating consistency with the behavioral expectations, so that when kids are going from class to class to class, they all enter the same way. They all clean up the same way, the volume level expectations. Like, that’s the kind of shit that gives kids calm, that allows them to soothe their C and S when they are showing up with trauma, that we need to be investing time in. So Jess, you’re 100% right. And I’m like I said, I’m watching it happen like a slow train wreck at my site.

Trina (00:42:56) – But at least they are deciding what their expectation expectation matrices are. Because we had no clear policies, the kids had no idea what was expected of them as they were moving through different zones on campus. Like, I know that sounds crazy, but where we are right now, the kids were so privileged that before the pandemic they didn’t need any of those rules. They still needed them. But now, coming back to the pandemic, we had a rapidly escalating series of issues because we had no clear expectations. but the but but the civic education, if you do it right, civic engagement gets kids to buy in to their campus in a different kind of way. That isn’t just extrinsic motivation. It really highlights the fact that they are necessary change agents on their campus and that they have the power to change their campus, and then they start to buy into it and in important ways. and I’m pushing for that too. But. I hear you, Jess. I really do, I love, hear, I love having this conversation with you, actually.

Amanda (00:44:00) – And you just brought up the pandemic, and and I don’t know how much time you all have. We’re almost at an hour, and I feel like there’s so much that we could talk about, but I’m curious about just as like like. Pre pandemic and post pandemic. Like we want to know and I don’t know if you surveyed your teachers about this because there’s a lot of admin. And like people making decisions like on boards and superintendents that like they’re assuming that everything’s the same, you know, like for some strange reason because because they’re not in the classroom post-pandemic. but like, what are your thoughts about student behavior? And I also feel like teachers are constantly blaming students and their parents for student behavior. and I think that they’re so stressed out and they don’t know who else to blame, but I don’t I really don’t think that they’re to blame. but what do you think? What do you do? Is there is there a difference in the way that your students are behaving, post-pandemic and and teachers reaction?

Jess (00:45:10) – Well, I, I did go from so in the pandemic, I was teaching middle school, and then I made a jump at the end of the 2020, 2019, 2020 school year.

Jess (00:45:21) – I made a jump from middle school rural to elementary urban. So it was like a huge jump. I moved from a town of 2000 to a, you know, a town of 2 million, right? So I went like it was extreme. And so when I was teaching, you know, like on lot when we were doing the online teaching, everything was great. The next year I was teaching from home the best time of my life. Some people hate it, I loved it. It was great to hang out with my dog all day, got to meet people. It was wonderful, right? And I thought, well, you know, I’ll go back to the classroom at the end of that year. We went back and I thought, well, I’m going from teaching eighth graders right to fourth graders. I mean, I was teaching them online, but I’m like, you know, we’re going back to real life. It’s it’s going to be a breeze going from eighth grade to fourth grade.

Jess (00:46:13) – Are you kidding me? And it was the shock of my life. I it was the worst time I’ve ever had. Something, something drastic had changed. So I get it. I do get it. I mean, these kids are alone on their devices, basically watching pornography all day long. I don’t want to say that they were for sure, but that’s sure how they were acting when they came back to the classroom. Amen. Moaning noises while I’m trying to teach math to. Yeah, like constant and these are firefighters I, I went, I went and I picked out what I heard was one of the best schools in Las Vegas. Magnet school top 20 in Las Vegas. These kids it was it was rough. I was not expecting some of these behaviors. And I I’m going in there with ten years of teaching experience, you know, and coming fresh out of middle school. And they’re shocking me, right? I mean, I taught middle school in Trump country. I hope I can say that it was wild.

Jess (00:47:15) – Okay. I saw some wild things down there. And these full fourth graders shocked me. I didn’t know how to handle them. The things they were doing and saying and the way they were behaving and the way they didn’t know how to communicate anymore. it’s rough. It was.

Trina (00:47:33) – What year? What year was that?

Jess (00:47:36) – so. Well, I ended with eighth graders, you know, during the pandemic. So, like June of 2020. And then I got a job with fourth graders down in Las Vegas August of 2020. So then I taught online for about nine months, and they came back the last quarter of school and it was like.

Trina (00:47:54) – Yeah, same.

Jess (00:47:55) – Yeah. It was just like, wow. And I had been teaching these kids and had a really good rapport with them, but and I only had half of the kids come back after the pandemic, but it was still quite eye opening. And then I thought, okay, next school year, next school year was 2021 to 2022 right.

Jess (00:48:12) – Like okay it’s going to be a full school year I think we started with masks on and I just thought this is going to be great. Back in the classroom again. They had a quarter. They had nine weeks of practice right. Everyone’s geared up. Everyone wants their kid to go back to school. This could be amazing. And it was just it was the hardest teaching year of my life. I had to keep a journal of how many days I left bawling, bawling. I was on my phone just crying because the things that I saw and the things they were doing were so bizarre for fourth graders.

Trina (00:48:46) – Oh, honey.

Jess (00:48:47) – Something happened. Something happened during the pandemic. All I can say is being left alone with their devices, maybe being left alone and neglected during the day a bit. And I’m not blaming parents because parents had to go to work. And in Las Vegas everyone is considered a vital worker, right? Like Las Vegas shut down for maybe 3 or 4 weeks during the pandemic and they are open the rest of the time.

Jess (00:49:09) – So I kind of get it. Like, what were the parents supposed to do? These kids are home alone with their computers all day. I mean, and it was just it was really rough. It was really like they just came back really different people. They came back like year with years of maturity, but like, not the kind I would want to see in a classroom. Like I said, it was a lot of like weird sexual stuff that I felt very uncomfortable around, almost as if I’m being harassed. Right? Yeah. And I’m like, what is even happening?

Amanda (00:49:41) – Oh, this.

Trina (00:49:42) – Is so rainy and weird. So, yeah, this is so refreshing is not the right word, I guess. But this is this is so, Important for me to hear because these have been my exact experiences as well. And before the pandemic, I was digging in big time into the application of title nine. All the the 50 year old federal law that requires us to both prevent and respond to sexual harassment that we have not implemented, that is implemented in university levels because survivors have to advocate for themselves and kids can’t do that.

Trina (00:50:18) – So no kid wants to talk about their sexual abuse at school. and so then I was I was like the de facto adult kids tell these things to because no one else will listen. Coming back from the pandemic, I have been inundated with the reports, the things that the kids are doing to each other at school is frightening, and we have no framework or system in place to deal with it. They they will give us superficial, oh, we have a title nine coordinator. Nobody knows who that person is. Nobody knows how to report something to that person. That person has is not involved in any investigations at school. We don’t for some reason when there sexual abuse at school, none of us call the cops. We just kind of reported amongst ourselves. We feel it’s fine to violate the law there and it’s just getting a compounding problem. And I think you’re right, Jess. I think it was that they were watching a lot of porn online, and that they did not know how to process that experience in the classroom.

Trina (00:51:22) – And then once you start victimizing each other in person, it becomes a cascading problem. The sexual violence problem on our campus has become, I thought I knew everything. I ran a domestic violence shelter rape crisis hotline for ten years. sorry, ten years before I was a teacher for six years. I thought I knew everything. Holy crap. It is frightening, isn’t it?

Amanda (00:51:49) – Yeah. And I think a lot of people listening are going to this is going to resonate with them too. You know, and I and we’re not prepared. Just like when it comes to teaching reading, teachers don’t know what to do. And I think everyone is a victim. The kids are victims. The parents are victims. The teachers are victims. Like we are all victims of systemic problems that are rooted in like, just history and like, this is the way things are. This is the way we do things. And we don’t, you know, we don’t know how to talk to kids about these things. We’re terrified.

Amanda (00:52:27) – It’s the parent’s job to talk about this and that, you know? But like, the parent doesn’t know what to talk how to talk to their kids either. No, no. I don’t know, like when teachers and I, I do get really frustrated with teachers who are blaming the kids. And I can hear your empathy, you know, like you were disturbed, but you’re not, like, blaming the kids or the parents. and I think that’s important for teachers to like, I don’t know, to get past that blame because I see a lot of it on social media. I know you do. Just the complaining about, about and blame and blaming it and maybe it’s blaming admin. I don’t know. We’re all blaming each other and I feel like what should we what do we do? I know that we’re getting close. Trina and I to like recording an episode about, like, what do we do then? You know, if this is all broken and this and this, and there’s, like, kids are playing out all of this trauma and and.

Amanda (00:53:33) – And teachers are either ignoring it or just trying to survive. You know, like, what do we do? And same with the admin. They’re either ignoring it, minimising gaslighting. Because they don’t know what to do. So what’s the answer? It’s not one of these programs.

Trina (00:53:54) – Well, I do. I do think that the, the what we would refer to as a poorly controlled culture and climate. In some places. And and I think that that’s becoming more and more places is driving teachers out of the profession. I definitely think it’s contributing. Do you agree with that statement, Jess?

Jess (00:54:14) – Well, yeah. We always have thousands of teacher openings in Las Vegas, and this year it’s never been higher. I think we have 3000 openings for people resigned with no nobody to fill in for that. There’s nobody out there. And they what they did is they ended up taking all the substitute teachers and putting them in full time roles. So now we have no substitute teachers and it’s just creating like this, just this cyclone.

Jess (00:54:42) – And what I’ve noticed and I’ve thought about this a lot myself is like who? I kind of wonder, like, who are the substitutes that are coming in and saying that they want to give this profession a chance? You know, I think that’s one thing is that, like, I see a lot of people like wanting to wanting to try it out, but it’s not like a sustainable career anymore. It’s not something that you do for 30 years because it’s just so wild. Like, you know, you just look at like, we don’t even have half of our careers under our belt. Right? And all the stories we have of just the last 10 to 15 years, the first year, I guess.

Amanda (00:55:23) – Speaking of fourth graders, when you were talking about this, this is before the pandemic, obviously, the first year I taught, I taught in Salt Lake City. Trina and I talk about the hills and the flatlands. Salt Lake City has the same thing, right? The rich people live on the hills.

Amanda (00:55:38) – The poor people live in the flatlands. Mostly Hispanic. Title one school kid brings a steak knife. In his pocket because he was going to stab another kid. That was like the first year of my teaching career. Like, talk about stories. I mean, we have a lot and and it is I cannot I I’m teaching part time. This has been the worst year of my life. I mean, okay.

Trina (00:56:08) – This has been the worst year of my teaching career because of climate and culture. Yeah.

Amanda (00:56:12) – And and it’s been tied with one of the worst years, which was a third grade class that you said you went some districts you ran from. I taught in that district in that school one year, and then I left. but yeah, this is tied for that year. But like, I’m part time. I only teach three classes and I don’t think I can ever go back full time. And I, I’m able to do that because I’m. I have privilege. Right. And I’m lucky.

Amanda (00:56:42) – Not everyone can do that. And so yeah, like this this profession is not sustainable. Like subs are going to come in and then they’re going to go run away screaming. And then who who. Yeah who is going to be in our schools.

Jess (00:56:55) – I almost think it’s gonna have to be like the Peace Corps at some point where if you agree to teach in a public school for like five years, you can get like some sort of discount on a house someday or like tuition to go do something like they’re gonna have to start recruiting like the National Guard to come in pretty soon because it’s like it’s so dire in so many places. Some places they have too many teachers I know, like if it’s like a college town, there’s a lot of graduates, but in a lot of places it’s it’s scary. Like here 3000 teacher deficit for next year and we the sign in the end of the school year. We still have two months left for people to quit next year, two more months and we already have 3000 openings.

Jess (00:57:41) – And you know, like.

Trina (00:57:42) – You know, the impact on the entire school system when you put people without credentials in those classrooms is a chain reaction of adding to the deterioration of learning and climate and culture, which adds to more teacher vacancy vacancies. And like the district I came from, had such a problem, that there were a lot of kids who had had in some of the most disenfranchised neighborhoods that didn’t even have a teacher of record for a couple of the key learning to read years. Shut the door.

Jess (00:58:16) – As of right now, we only have 30% of licensed teachers for next year.

Amanda (00:58:22) – What?

Jess (00:58:23) – Yeah. Oh my God. So, like, we have 30% of the teachers, our subs, they do not have degrees. They just. They can get a really short term little certificate here. So 30% or subs, 30% of us are staying and 40% of the licensed teachers have quit for next year. So we have so we do have some subs. They’re not licensed though. I mean that’s not like having a licensed teacher in the room.

Jess (00:58:50) – Such a big difference. Wait, you said they.

Amanda (00:58:52) – Don’t have degrees or they don’t have a certificate like a licensed teaching license?

Jess (00:58:56) – A lot of both. Because here you could just go to the community college and take a few courses and become a substitute. Wow. Made it really easy.

Trina (00:59:05) – You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to be a sub. Holy shit.

Jess (00:59:09) – Not anymore.

Trina (00:59:10) – Oh my god. Okay.

Jess (00:59:11) – Nevada anyway, but.

Amanda (00:59:12) – Okay. But part of this is I know that we need like, really like, good, good quality teachers in classrooms. But part of this is kind of good if the right people are, you know, being vetted. Because actually, I just listened to the most recent Cult of Pedagogy episode about and it was about the teacher shortage. And it’s this teacher, I forget what state she’s in and I don’t want to miss. Name. The state is on the east coast, special ed teacher that started, like, recruiting college students and, like, this whole, like, program, to and kind of angling it as.

Amanda (00:59:52) – Do you want to make a difference in, and like, In impoverished communities and like, do you want to like, you know, move your social justice initiatives and like, do you or do you have a passion, you know, for, changing, you know, the way that we do things? and so it’s like pitching it that way to college students, and like recruiting them to go into the teaching profession. and then also there was another program getting aides, to, get a teaching license to have their own classrooms.

Trina (01:00:35) – Amanda, I remember when we talked about in the teacher preparation episode, I was one of those people who was recruited out of a sub pool that did not have their credential. What that is actually like to have to do that, it is it is deeply oppressive. And the kids who have to because you don’t have time to reflect or grow, you’re doing your credential coursework at the same time as your teaching. Yeah. That’s and and and the and the not only are you new and you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, you don’t have the time to build lessons and grade effectively because you have so much of your own academic work that you’re doing.

Trina (01:01:08) – At the same time, the kids who who get you as a teacher that year are really being shortchanged. It is unfair. And we’re doing these really, like huge recruiting projects of bringing in subs, bringing in kids in high school because we have not fixed the problem of why no one wants to be in our profession in the first place. And and again, Amanda two, the reason why they’re buying all these curriculums that are turning page teacher lesson is because they think they can mitigate mitigate away the fact that they don’t have highly veteran qualified teachers in those classrooms. So they’re doubling down on we’re just going to forget having a veteran teacher and forget the knowledge that they bring and how essential they are. We’re just going to bring in warm bodies and give you this turn to page and teach a lesson. We are getting to a point where they’re going to allow AI to do our jobs. I’m serious. We’re. If we don’t turn around and course correct, the kids won’t even have a warm body. That’s that’s where we’re headed.

Amanda (01:02:13) – This is so dark, I feel like bad putting this out into the world. That’s why I was trying to, like, transition into like, what do we do? What’s what’s. And honestly, what we do is we empower students and we empower teachers like that’s what we do. I mean, I feel like that’s it, isn’t it? Like, listen to the kids, listen to the teachers. Like stop blaming. I don’t know.

Trina (01:02:43) – There’s no quick solution. And if you don’t respect what a veteran, knowledgeable teacher brings to that space and allow them to lead the work, I mean, a lot of times we’re not even included in the work, much less leading it or co-leading it. We’re never going to fix these problems because we’re the only like in a checks and balance system. And like our US government, you have checks and balances between the three branches. We’re the only entity in this entire K-12 complex that has tenure and is free of the political crap of a K-12 system. We’re not hired.

Trina (01:03:21) – we’re not elected for by the public like our superintendent and school boards are. And we have tenure, which allows us to fight for what we know is right. And if we don’t do that right, this will never be fixed. We have got to band together and fight for what we know is real and good here for our kids, for our democracy. I’m sorry. I’m getting on my high horse.

Amanda (01:03:43) – Forgive me. No, don’t be sorry. It’s true. And I feel like you and I are getting more into school politics because of this. You know, like we’re trying to. We’re speaking up in many different ways within our own, district. And like, with this podcast and like, trying to publish a book and, and talking to each other, like talking to other teachers and trying to build allies ships, you know, with teachers who know what’s best, for kids, and even and that’s hard, you know, like bring and you, Trina, are always talking about social capital and losing social capital.

Amanda (01:04:25) – Have you ever lost social capital, just like speaking up about something or like putting forth an idea and then suddenly you’re the enemy of everyone at the school, like.

Jess (01:04:39) – Yeah. I mean, not only like at school, but on social media, of course. Yeah. No matter what you say, like recently, this whole year, I was involved with the union and just we were fighting for our teacher contracts. And I’m posting about the union and updates, and you’d be surprised. In my district, at my school, on social media how many people are anti-union. I’m just like, what is this? It’s like the one thing, the one entity that is fighting for teachers rights, fighting for a fair contract. And there are so many people against them. Like I dealt with it online, on my social media. I dealt with it in real life at school. I mean, it’s it’s even things that seem like intuitive that it should this should be good for everyone. And there’s always getting people that disagree with you.

Jess (01:05:31) – Right? There’s always going to be people that, you know, push against that. And I mean, what can you do? But just keep staying the course of what you believe in, right.

Amanda (01:05:44) – I think we’re on the right side.

Jess (01:05:48) – Of course you do.

Amanda (01:05:50) – We all do, right?

Trina (01:05:53) – Jess, I think that’s awesome that you were fighting for a fair contract, did you? Well, I was gonna say. Did you get it? None of us. Got exactly what we wanted. How did that go for your union?

Jess (01:06:04) – It was great. I mean, we fought for 11 months, ten months. It was a long time and we got almost everything we wanted. Almost. And. But we’re, you know, we are we’re not really a union. We have an association. Unions are not allowed in Nevada. So. But we do pay. Like what? Yeah. No unions in Nevada. We’re a right to work state. But we have an education association that fights for our, our contract.

Jess (01:06:35) – And so, but yeah, it was a long it was an exhausting fight because we did these like, payday rallies and marches like, before. We weren’t allowed to strike because we’re right to work state. We cannot strike. What. So we would yeah, we would do marches before school, after school. And we’re in Las Vegas. It’s like 110 degrees here, you know. So we’re out there. It’s just dying. It was really rough times. We were doing every payday. We would do payday strikes. But they would be like before school or after school. We could never do them during our contracted hours. So we’re putting in so many hours of time going to these meetings on the weekends, every weekend, going to the association meetings and just pouring so much of ourselves into it and trying to get action from the community and parents and going door to door. And it was it was exhausting. But we did get what we wanted. I would say about 90% of our meet, our, our demands were met.

Jess (01:07:40) – but the legislature gave us money for all of these things. It’s just the superintendent for them. And so the money was there for us to have everything we wanted. But they were the, you know, they were fighting it, so but we got it. And I’m happy they already paid us our retro pay and we got our raises and we hadn’t had raises in a really long time. So it was really cool. And I feel so heartbroken for other districts that maybe have gone through the same thing and they don’t see that kind of outcome. But we we did. Luckily we needed it though, because our cost of living has gone up so much here in Las Vegas. I mean, housing prices have doubled the last four years. Rent has doubled in my neighborhood. Wow. And that’s just kind of crazy. They’re all.

Amanda (01:08:26) – Leaving. They’re all leaving the Bay Area in California.

Trina (01:08:30) – We we really need to be paid, on a formula across the country, a consistent formula that honors our cost of living in our areas.

Trina (01:08:41) – That is a huge issue because too, like I was, I was trying to like consolidate my loans that I got from my credential on my master’s degree. Most of them are for my credential, because I paid for one of those really expensive programs that allows you to work at night and teach during the day. it was like 50 grand for my teaching credential. and so the, like the income driven repayment. You guys, we’ve heard about this. We were going to record a blurb about this later because I want to share information with teachers of what I learned because it’s super confusing. But the income driven repayment plan, for those of you who just had, student loans come back up again because the Covid forbearance is over, is a nationwide formula. So if you live in the Bay area like we do, we are paid more because it’s a very expensive to live here. But relative to what other teachers make, given their cost of living, it’s similar. But because we live in the Bay area now, you live in Vegas where Vegas has a higher cost of living.

Trina (01:09:43) – I don’t qualify for a lot of the IDR because it’s a nationwide formula that is messed up. And again, that privilege is lower. cost of living areas and rural areas, urban areas are more impacted with teacher income inequality because of these problems. It’s super messed up.

1 (01:10:03) – Well.

Amanda (01:10:04) – Yeah. Thank you for telling us about that. That’s wild. I that’s about how much I paid for my way to expensive toity teacher certification program. Like about 50,000, which is crazy. we should probably wrap this up. So does anyone want to, I want to say thank you both. I mean, it’s Saturday. We just spent a week teaching and with students, and we’re here on a Saturday afternoon. Like, we’ve only been talking for an hour and a half, like we care. And there’s so many teachers out there that do care, you know, like the teachers listening right now. So I just want to thank both of you for. Your passion and the work that you both do.

Jess (01:10:56) – Thank you for having me on.

Jess (01:10:57) – It was a lot of fun. Thanks. That’s all.

Amanda (01:11:02) – Come on. Jazz. That was a lot of fun things.

Jess (01:11:07) – I think that’s a perfect wrap up, right? You said everything that we need to say. Okay.

Amanda (01:11:14) – What about you, Trina? Do you have any last words?

Trina (01:11:16) – I’m a fan. Girl of jazz, y’all. You follow her? I love you.

Jess (01:11:25) – You’re too nice. You’re too nice. Go. I’m sorry I pushed back on PBIs. No, I just get upset. Really easy. Good, good.

Amanda (01:11:35) – You gotta push back.

Trina (01:11:36) – Yeah. No, I want to talk to you more about PBIs. Like, I’m such a geek for talking about that stuff. Nobody wants to talk about it as much as I do.

Amanda (01:11:46) – Not me. Me? Yeah. So Trina learned about Voxer from me. Just. And now we, like, talk all the time. She’s my new. She’s two. I’ve been boxing because. Yeah, we just. And I haven’t talked to so long, it’s because I’ve been talking to Trina on UPS.

Jess (01:12:04) – Amanda can only have one friend at a time.

Amanda (01:12:06) – Yeah, it’s kind of.

Trina (01:12:08) – Let’s bring test and let’s all have a box together.

Amanda (01:12:11) – Which is great. But just like she’s got tons of friends on Voxer, she’s boxing constantly to all sorts of people. she’s very popular, so follow her. She’s the whimsical. What’s your handle on Instagram?

Jess (01:12:28) – Whimsical_teacher

Trina (01:12:33) – Whimsy I love whimsy!

Amanda (01:12:36) – Yeah, I know you do. You two would definitely hit it off if you ever met in person. All right. Thank you, everyone, for listening and say goodbye. And let’s stick together as awesome, passionate teachers. Keep keep speaking up. Keep speaking out. Quit saying sorry and yeah yeah okay.

Trina (01:13:01) – Good bye guys.



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