Brandon Bartlett talks to David Dillard on teachers concerns returning to classrooms

Coronavirus Watch

HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – The coronavirus pandemic prompted schools across the country to close their buildings. Now they’re expecting to welcome back students for the next school year.

A new poll by USA Today shows one in five teachers say they are unlikely to return to their classrooms if they reopen. Eyewitness News anchor Brandon Bartlett spoke with David Dillard, the president of a college prep in Texas, about this new poll and teachers’ concerns.

Full Interview

Brandon Bartlett: David, thanks for joining us tonight. school districts all across the country are trying to come up with plans about possibly reopening schools for the next school year. A new poll out found that one in five teachers say if schools reopened in the fall, they’re not likely to return. Why do you think that is?

David Dillard: My wife, who is founder of KD college prep and a former school teacher reminded me never ask a woman if they want to have another baby just after giving birth. And that is exactly what school teachers have done here. They basically have formed a totally new way of teaching to them, after about 90 days of labor, and then they’ve wrapped up the end of school, and then they take this poll, and so I’m not surprised with their response a little bit, but I think there are some underlying factors that are influencing this response.

Brandon Bartlett: What are those underlying factors?

David Dillard: Well, I mean, you have you have some of those that were polled that probably are nearing retirement and, and this has just pushed them over the edge. I think that there are a certain part of that poll, where the teachers are health compromised or they’re living with people who are and then there’s those who are technology challenged- I mean they’ve been forced into doing something completely different and human nature is to be resistant to change anyway. And I frankly I feel there’s a certain component that are just frustrated that they’re not able to do the job that they were hired to do with this new environment. And so there are a lot of challenges that are probably at this point of high frustration are causing that response. But we find any teacher will tell you, right at the end of the school, they’re all ready to retire. But after a little R&R, they all come back or most of them come back. This is a year though, where they may not be at the same numbers coming back that we saw before, though.

Brandon Bartlett: Yeah, let’s talk about that. If some teachers do not return to the classroom, is there a fear that can lead to a lack of teachers this fall?

David Dillard: Well, I think I think there is a possibility that especially in certain places where the circumstances are sort of in a perfect storm. I mean, administrators are working overtime right now to sort through all the variations and to see what they could do, how do they address the ones that are most challenged by the current environment of having to teach all online. I mean,, frankly, they’re facing the same challenges that every business is facing. I mean, we as business owners don’t have the luxury of mourning the loss of the world we knew for very long, we’ve got to get out there and make it work. And, and so that’s what we have done as a business and pivoted to help people now anywhere in the country, when we had been a locally focused company for almost 30 years. But administrators are doing the same thing. They’re there. We’re seeing some very creative alternatives that are being put out there. Focusing frankly on younger kids first making sure that they have a chance to, to have the FaceTime then looking at at risk students and how they can they can make sure they’re getting the attention they need, I think even with the ones who are older and should be able to adapt a little bit better, better handle on technology. I think you’re going to see some furloughing of some in school and some at home, through online in the fall. You’re just going to see a little bit of everything. And I don’t think you’re going to see a uniform solution for every grade level in every part of the country. I think we’re going to have to allow them the grace to apply the solution that works best in their situation.

Brandon Bartlett: Yeah. Well, the poll found that 83% of teachers say that they’re having a harder time doing their job right now and about 66% of them say that they’ve had more work to do than usual. Why do you think that that is?

David Dillard: Well, you have lesson plans that have not been adapted for this medium, for this delivery method. And so they’re having to deal with those differences and still produce the daily lesson plans that they have. And so it is going to be more frustrating, they haven’t necessarily been trained in the technology. And they’re dealing with students in some cases that don’t have the equipment or haven’t had the equipment to deal with it online. So they’re in some cases, you’re not dealing with online schooling at all, you’re dealing with assignments and have to return things in and so it’s it’s a mixed bag across the country, as to what you’re having to deal with and parents who have been thrust into the role of having to be teachers aides, and many of them have no business being teacher’s aides. It’s a challenge all the way around. And so it is understandable to have the frustration they have. But the takeaway to my clients right now, what I’m telling all of my students is that we’re teaching our kids how to deal with challenges through this experience. And frankly, our society is going to need people who are ready to work through these types of challenges in the future. And so we better start educating them in how to do that, while they have the support, because they’re going to be the ones that are going to have to figure it out in the future.”

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(This story was originally published on May 29, 2020)

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