Nationwide the talk in education is the high amount of teachers retiring or leaving teaching altogether. There is a myriad of reasons as to why teachers are exiting the profession. For this blog post, we’ll drill down to discuss three main reasons why teachers are leaving. We will also develop some solutions as to how we can get teachers to stay in the profession.
Reason #1: Low Teacher Pay
Given everything educators are asked to do, the profession pays low. In some states, beginning teacher salaries are sub 40K. In defense of teachers, I do think teachers deserve better compensation. I’m not particularly fond of teacher seniority and would like to see more pay scales based on teacher productivity (but that’s another blog post). A Simple way to combat teacher pay is to give them more money. I prefer attaching money to accountability measures, but that’s just me. Even with my wholehearted agreement that teachers should receive more compensation,
Of Course Teachers Deserve More Money
I’d be remiss not to add that more money should come with caveats. Another way to offset teacher pay is to align your school, so teachers only have to teach structurally. Some of the many complaints of teachers are that they have to wear too many hats. Let’s normalize putting supports in place so teachers can focus on doing a fantastic job for kids.
Reason #2: Teachers Don’t Feel Respected
I’ve never seen a more challenging time to be an educator in my almost 20-year career. Growing up in Louisiana, teachers were revered. I was fortunate enough to have a healthy mix of teachers. Some looked like me; some did not. The ones that looked like me lived in our neighborhoods. They attended our churches and were very active in the community. Not only were they respected, but we also celebrated our educators. Somewhere in the last 20 years, this shifted. Or quite possibly, this has always been the underbelly of our society.
In my experience as an educator, I had to earn the respect of my students. It was all in how I showed up for them and how I conducted myself.
It’s Time for a Gut Check
Rather than make claims that educators aren’t respected, I think it’s time for a gut check. It is time for each teacher that does not feel respected to be self-reflective and ask themselves why students and families do not respect them. After your self-assessment, here are some things you can do to command more respect. 1) Make genuine connections with students and parents. Parents are the experts on their children. We can’t have any conversations without involving the parents. 2) Seek feedback, and implement the feedback. Don’t just wait until your informal and formals observations. Use your planning period to go and watch your students in other classes they like. What are those teachers doing? Immolate! Lastly, show up. Some students look at you as their beacon of hope. Showing up with consistency gives them something to look forward to; if you don’t give up on them, they won’t give up on you.
Reason #3: Teachers Don’t Feel Supported:
Support for teachers can be tricky. Any/Every administrator should use the beginning of the year to clearly define what consent looks like for teachers. No teacher education program is the same. My theory is no teacher education is equal because teacher support will look different for everyone. The goal is to know your teacher’s strengths and weaknesses and help them in building capacity. It is easy to focus on the drawbacks to drive folks out of the profession, but I challenge administrators to try everything they can to coach educators up before doing so. In many instances, once you’ve run through a gambit of coaching tools, commented expectations, and deliverables at a high level, those that are underperforming will leave.
Teachers Leave and That’s Okay
Note that departure does not fall on any administrators that fortify their duty of actively coaching and engaging teachers. My advice to educators who do not feel supported is to know your why and being overly communicative about the tools you need to succeed. I would also say, don’t be too hard on yourselves. Great educators do not happen overnight, and there is no greatness without some struggle.