why do so many teachers leave teaching
t seems almost impossible at present to discuss any aspect of the teaching profession without the topic of workload being raised Б and rightly so. The latest
found that classroom teachers and middle leaders work 54. 4 hours a week on average, with senior leaders averaging 60 hours, and workload is widely recognised as the major cause of teachers leaving their roles. In her last week, Dr Rebecca Allen, director of Education Datalab, looked at how a number of factors Б including approaches to accountability and a culture of Бkeeping up with the JonesesБ Б may have contributed to substantial increases of teacher workload. But tackling retention may not only be a question of reducing the number of hours that teachers work. While unmanageable workload is clearly a Бpush factorБ, itБs worth also reflecting on the Бpull factorsБ Б the reasons teachers join the profession in the first place, and what keeps them there. As we look to drive down workload and redress issues of work-life balance, we must also create space for things that really matter to teachers and the young people they teach. The idea of making a difference to studentsБ lives remains a major draw for the profession, but can simultaneously be a cause of increased workload in itself. The desire to do everything possible to help young people can make it hard for teachers to switch off. There is always a feeling that there is something more to do. Demands around marking, data entry and paper trails have increased, and teachers end up adding these to their already full days Б rather than cutting out the elements of their teaching practice that they know are important to their students. Another major driver for people choosing to join the teaching profession is [pdf]. But itБs easy to see how, in a culture of hyper-accountability, this sense of confidence in their own capability might be eroded. The increasing interest in what works in teaching and learning Б with practices being outlined in terms of Бeffect sizeБ or Бmonths of progressБ Б also risks teachers feeling they must add still more to their to-do list.
So we must not only evaluate whether teaching approaches are effective, but whether they are efficient in terms of workload and cost. Engagement with research should also lead to teachers being empowered to stop doing the things that arenБt working Б we canБt simply keep adding and more without taking anything away. And what about job satisfaction? [pdf] indicates that while workload is a factor in this, it is not simply a question of how many hours they work but whether they feel their workload is manageable Б something the researchers suggest could be dependent on the level of support and resources they receive. WhatБs more, the most important factor in increasing teachersБ job satisfaction and reducing their desire to move school is good leadership. This is perhaps no surprise, but it emphasises how much of a difference school leaders can make. Scope for progression, opportunities for teacher cooperation, feedback and effective professional development are also important. found that participation in subject-specific continuing professional development improved retention of science teachers. These activities all require some level of time commitment, yet they play a critical role for teachers. These opportunities should not be lost or eroded in a bid to reduce workload, nor should we expect teachers to carry them out in their Бfree timeБ; rather, time for these must be protected, while unnecessary burdens and expectations are cut. Sticking plaster approaches to the teacher recruitment and retention challenges, such as bursaries for shortage subjects, may be absolutely necessary in times of crisis. However, they must be seen as just that Б a short-term fix. These measures need to run alongside long-term, sustainable solutions that address all of the push and pull factors in the profession. Teachers need to be given the time, autonomy and professional development and collaboration opportunities that will help them to keep making a difference Б as well as recognition of how good a job they do.
Follow us on Twitter via, like us on, and join the the latest articles direct to your inbox Looking for a teaching job? Or perhaps you need to recruit school staff? , the education specialist. Teachers leaving the profession continues to be a serious problem in education. Even though the demand for teachers is higher than ever, there are teachers leaving the profession in staggering numbers. School boards and educational research organizations are trying to discover why this is happening. As a past teacher, I can give some first hand reasons why teachers consider leaving the profession. Let me clarify, I loved teaching and the impact the profession has on the next generation; for me, the decision was more a change of lifestyle than a displeasure in my career. I can, however, give some practical concerns arising among teachers that lead to many of them choosing a different career. I think the main reason teachers are leaving the profession is the lack of competitive salary. Many people believe that teachers have Бthe easy lifeБ because they get summers off, but teachers work significantly more hours than we get paid for, especially when we have a dual assignment such as sponsoring a club or coaching a sport. If you took the average yearly salary and divided it by the number of hours that most teachers actually work; the result was that teachers make about $10. 00 an hour with all the late nights on buses coming back from games, and early morning tutoring sessions for struggling students, not to mention the three page essays for one hundred and fifty students. If you are considering going into teaching for the money, then you may want to reconsider your career choice. The second reason why I believe teachers are leaving the profession has to do with the lack of morals and discipline that some students receive at home, and the inability to do much about it in the classroom. This generation is the most fatherless, divorced, and neglected generations in the history of America, and it is noticed in the classroom.
For young teachers, it is often difficult to balance teaching with discipline when respect and honor for teachers has not been instilled in students. Some students are not taught moral values at home, and children are often in situations where they raise themselves. In this case, it becomes difficult to expect a teenager to follow your rules and turn in homework when the student has never had to follow rules or have responsibility at home. On the other side of that argument, and another main reason for teachers leaving the profession, is the issue of parents. The problem with some parents is that they often see their child through rose colored glasses. Their child could curse at you and throw a desk across the room, and somehow the parent will find a way to blame the teacher. It is very difficult for teachers, especially young ones, to help parents understand that their child must take responsibility for their actions. Parents look to school administrators to discipline teachers for their childБs failure, all the while having no expectations for their child to change. This is a very difficult and tricky situation to navigate, and if a teacher does not have the support of administration, the teacher will find themselves in meeting after meeting getting reprimanded with very little positive outcomes. The last reason teachers leave the profession is probably the most frustrating, and that has to do with standardized testing. Many districts are being pressured to perform better Бor elseБ and I agree that performance standards need to be raised, but the responsibility must fall equally on students and parents as it does on teachers and administrators. If other professions were treated like teachers, then every time a person committed a crime in their jurisdiction, a police officer should be fired, or every time a patient got sicker, a doctor should lose his license. The fear of losing a career because a fifteen year old does not take a test seriously is a sad reality of standardized testing.
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