Why are teachers leaving the education profession?
Teachers are the salt of the earth. Few other roles focus so exclusively on improving the world, on building up the next generation. Few influential figures can’t recall with fondness at least one educator who played a large role in shaping the course of their lives.
And yet, we see a stream of educators leaving the profession, and not enough entering it. In a recent article for the The Huffington Post, Jennifer Wolfe, a 25-year teaching veteran, shares her perspective on the trend of teachers leaving the profession. Wolfe explains what teaching was like when she started in the 1990s. She describes the support networks and resources she had at her disposal, as well as good benefits and opportunities for professional development.
Fast forward to today, and Wolfe says the job feels a little different.
“I’m still teaching ELA in middle school, but have navigated through NCLB and am now entering the uncharted territory of CCSS. I’ve been given the standards, but little training, and no materials whatsoever that match what my students are being tested on. I’ve spent money out of my own pocket to purchase lesson ideas from teachers in other states who are one step ahead. I’ve pursued grants, my own training, and read everything I can get my hands on. I’m teaching classes of 36, responsible for all ELA standards. I’m making a higher salary, but pay nearly 27% out of pocket for my share of my health benefits. I make less money this year than I did last year, and am looking at 12 more years of teaching before I can take full retirement. And I’m trying to pay for my own child’s college tuition, all the while I’m educating other people’s kids so they can enroll in college, too.”
She claims that expectations for teachers are rising while resources are dwindling, and increasingly, teacher performances are tied to test scores. From Wolfe’s perspective, this makes it far too easy for certified educators to jump ship when other career opportunities arise.
In her words: “Something has to change before it’s too late. Aren’t our children worth it?”
Read the full article on The Huffington Post here.
We would agree that something has to change – and much of that change is already happening in the incredible work of many district leaders across the country to provide the time, opportunity and support for professional growth for our educators.
Educators are seeking opportunities to collaborate – to learn together, reflect on their own practice, receive meaningful feedback and apply that back to the classroom. Time is always a challenge – but we’ve heard some amazing stories of districts and schools taking professional learning to the next level. From leveraging online learning to implementing peer-based collaboration and coaching, district leaders are working hard to help educators feel more engaged and empowered in their important roles.
As this important work continues, I believe we will see a return to and renewed love for the job of teaching.
What about your district? How are you providing support and growth opportunities to attract and retain educators?