Educational Roadblock: Teacher Shortages Impact Students

The ongoing challenge of the teacher shortage has made it difficult for students to immerse themselves in a variety of science classes. As we look ahead into the next school year, the availability of science classes will be limited.

This change doesn’t just impact what happens in the classroom; students will have to dedicate their own time to learning outside the classroom, especially when class time proves insufficient to cover the extensive curriculum. Raimo Hansen, a science teacher, speaks on what it’s like being in class under such circumstances. 

“AP Biology used to be a double-period class here at Edison, just as it is in many schools. Due to constraints, the course was given one period per day instead of two. The laboratory component to the course seems to be designed with more time in mind. The labs take an inquiry approach which demands more time. Also, some of the methods used in the labs have long wait times to see results. It has been a struggle to successfully implement the labs as recommended by College Board. As far as covering the content for the course, there is enough time. I am hopeful for the future that our school will be in a position to allow two periods for AP Biology or something close to that,” Hansen said. 

Advanced Placement (AP) science classes are important for high school students because they offer more challenging and in-depth coursework compared to standard classes. Additionally, earning a high score on AP exams may allow students to earn college credit, saving money and time in their higher education journey. Danaya Diason, a sophomore, speaks on why she wants to take AP science classes.

“I want to take AP science classes because I want to go into the healthcare field. Since I was younger I already knew that I wanted to go into medicine and become a pediatric physician.  Being in the medical shop class showed the importance of biology and chemistry. I know Biology is a really hard class and Dr. Savitzky has spoken a lot about her past students who took AP Bio and then did really well in Biology in college,” Diason said. 

In the upcoming year, AP Psychology, AP Chemistry, and AP Biology will be offered, and some other classes like AP Environmental Science and AP Physics won’t be available. Availability is based on demand, so if there isn’t enough demand from the students, the class is dropped. Lotus Triola, the Assistant Principal of Science, speaks on the accessibility of certain classes.

“Well, we only eliminated AP Environmental Science because it doesn’t seem to meet interest. Students are not motivated and also initially I did cancel AP Bio because the same thing, the teacher communicated to me that the students were not really into it, also being a single period plays a factor, and a lot of seniors, but then at the AP fair I realized that there is a lot of demand still. I have younger kids that requested it, so I decided to put it back on and most likely it will be a double period,” Triola said. 

However, these circumstances have not just affected the AP classrooms. The teacher shortage has made the search for the right instructor for eager students in regular science classes more difficult, impacting the learning environment. Triola discusses the challenges of seeking suitable teachers within the limited options. 

“…It’s very difficult to find science teachers, qualified science teachers, especially for Earth Science, Chemistry and Physics. I almost find no candidates and with Physics, it was only one candidate, so I had no choice, and I had some bad experiences because of that, when you don’t have any choice, you’re kind of desperate, you hire whoever, and sometimes it doesn’t turn out in the best interest of the student,” Triola said. 

Amongst adversity, there are students who take the hand they are dealt and go above and beyond in order to excel in their classes. Raimo Hansen shares the strategies that his past students have used that caused them to be successful in his class. 

“Students that do well are the ones that work hard, going beyond the required work to pursue interests that are related to the topic of the course. I’ve had students approach me, asking me questions about things they have learned from reading a certain article or watching a certain science-related video on YouTube. It’s these types of students that do well in the course. There needs to be an honest interest in the subject. There needs to be a natural curiosity to learn more about the living world because they just think it’s really cool and exciting,” said Hansen. 

Caption: The challenges of fostering success: nurturing genuine interest and curiosity for women in STEM

Samantha Marasigan

Hi, My name is Samantha Marasigan and in my free time I like listening to Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers. I love watching scary movies, baking, and reading. My favorite book is The Inheritance Games by Jenn Lynn Barnes and my favorite genre is young adult. I look forward to writing updates and news articles in the Arts & Entertainment section of The Edison Light!