Teacher Attrition

Most of us have heard the dire statistics regarding teacher attrition.  Perhaps as you sat in your teacher education courses, you were even asked to look to the left and right — of the three of you, one would quit within the first three years in the profession and another would quit within five.  Teacher attrition is blamed on many factors: NCLB, difficult students, lack of support from administration, and lack of adequate preparation or mentoring.  Of course, all of these problems exist.  I left public school teaching for all of the above reasons.  I was ready to quit teaching for good after four years because of all of the above reasons.  One of the things I still find difficult about being an educator is that I don’t feel as if I am trusted to do my job — to make educational and curricular decisions in the best interest of my students, evaluate them fairly, and plan and execute meaningful lessons and assignments.  I’m not sure this feeling ever leaves a teacher because I have had colleagues who were near retirement who still felt this way.

Some days, I think teachers get a great deal of satisfaction out of their jobs — because truly no feeling can top working with a class when everyone’s really getting it and engaged in learning — and those days are worth the days when we don’t feel appreciated or satisfied, but it’s difficult, and I don’t think a lot of people are willing to or may even be capable of the endurance it takes to make a career of teaching these days.

I think positive feedback is important.  I think teachers need to feel less alone, and I think it is critical that that feedback come not only from mentors or peers, but also from administrators.

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[tags]teaching, attrition, education[/tags]

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3 thoughts on “Teacher Attrition

  1. Dana –

    I am a first year teacher. Actually I just graduated this December and sort of fell into a position in the school where I student taught. All through school and even during my student teaching, I loved the job. I liked seeing the kids everyday and could connect with most of them, even the ones who regularly gave me a hard time. This first time in my own classroom, doing things completely my way, I felt all of the things you described and found myself wondering why I decided to become a teacher, questioning whether or not I had what it takes. It was my fellow teachers and administration that got me through those questions. I was fortunate enough to find your website when I was researching for a unit and I signed up for your newsletter. More than once since I've signed up, I've connected to what you've written – Thank you.

  2. Dana, Sounds like a rough day/week… I had experiences every year for 31 years at some point.. sometimes w/ bosses, sometimes w/ kids, some w/ parents. Those times always made me question myself. That's what's so sad about it.. I don't think lawyers/doctors.. others experience the same lack of trust.. It may have something to do w/ that adage "Those who can't teach" when clearly teaching is a gift. I had one class in my final year. Third period. I thought I could not survive that class.. 23 of the roughest kids in a school of 1100. Keep on keepin on. Ignore the naysayers. I would trust you educating both of my kids.. in a skinny minute. SL

  3. Dana, once again you have said it exactly right! Teachers are underappreciated from parents, administrators, students and members of the community. I am sure you have heard people mumble that teachers have it so great because of summers off and all those holidays! Well, little do these people realize that good teachers are getting refreshed during that time and even working hard to fine tune their craft! The good teachers don't often do the same curriculum every year, but plan to make changes in order for their lessons to be fresh. Having a class really get it, is a natural high, there is no better feeling!

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