A teachers' union has begun its first day of facilitation with the Ministry of Education in a bid to avoid strike action next week.
The Employment Relations Authority accepted the urgent application for mediation filed by both parties last month.
New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) president Lynda Stuart said any recommendations made by the authority would be voted on by union members.
"The ministry will be talking about their points, our people from NZEI-Te Riu Roa will be talking from our perspective and what the facilitator will do is listen to those perspectives and work out how we find a way forward around it.
"There will be some recommendations that are put to both parties - we've said quite clearly that our membership will be involved in the consideration of that."
Ms Stuart said the issues around attracting people into the profession and teacher retention would be the main issues discussed.
She said if the facilitation was unsuccessful rolling strikes would begin next week.
"This is what it's taken to actually really show that our members are really concerned - we're in a crisis. We're all trying to find a way forward."
Parents should plan for the strike but NZEI hoped it could be resolved before then.
"We go into this process in good faith. We go in hoping to get a resolution; we can't crystal ball this. This is just an open honest conversation around where to from here."
She thanked parents for their support.
"I think they're really close to the grassroots; they're really close to what happens in their child's school.
"So what they see are all of the issues that we're talking about. They see the fact that we can't get relievers, they see all of these things first-hand, so I'm hoping they'll stay with us."