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Why So Many Teachers Are Quitting


I have worked for some amazing school leaders and with some wonderful students and like most teachers I am passionate about seeing young people succeed. This post is not intended to offend nor are any of the comments directed at any person in particular.


When I began teaching in 1996, I had previous jobs I thoroughly enjoyed. I had a full-time job as a zookeeper (which I loved but knew I would never make enough money doing). I was a personal trainer for 10 years and I served as a combat medic in the ARMY and National Guard. I wanted to be a teacher since I was 15. As an adult, I chose to go into teaching because I wanted to coach, have a predictable work schedule, consistent salary, and a good retirement. Needless to say, I have and always have had a good work ethic and high standards and expectations for myself. I say this because most teachers I know are very similar. They tend to care about important things (you know, like young people). They went to school to have a respectable, successful, professional career in education. Educators are made up of a special group of people. They are obviously smart enough to get a college education and most are good, moral, logical, practical, caring, hardworking and intelligent people. Educators are up there with doctors and astronauts; they are best of the best. Tragically, most teachers have one major, fatal flaw. This flaw is that they have those same high expectations for others as well.


Teachers expect students to:

  • care about their future

  • have basic manners

  • come to school prepared to learn (rested, fed, bathed, on time, free from drugs, and sober)

  • try

Teachers expect parents to:

  • love their children

  • make sure their children are prepared to learn

  • teach their children manners, hygiene, respect for others

  • be proper role models

  • stay clean from drugs and alcohol

  • be nice

Teachers expect school leaders to:

  • be promoted to leadership because they are properly credentialed and experienced

  • be promoted to leadership based on merit and not on personal relationships

  • be of good character, hardworking and intelligent

  • make sure teachers have time to plan and teach

  • foster a calm, positive, low stress school environment

  • be proactive in school improvement planning

  • be fair and pleasant

  • know what they are doing

Unfortunately, most of these expectations are often not met. Students have no common morals to guide proper social behavior or elicit respect for teachers. Many are apathetic and even aggressively opposed to the learning environment. Teachers are commonly physically assaulted and verbally abused. Parents are busy struggling to make a living and are either unable to positively influence their child's behavior or blame the teacher instead. Students are too preoccupied with cell phones, social media, drugs, sex, and alcohol to care about learning.

Teachers are asked to do more with less and to put up with all of this for a low salary. Many teachers work multiple jobs in order to survive. If we truly want to improve teacher retention, salary improvements will have to be addressed.


Perhaps most frustrating of all is the inability of some school leaders to utilize any common sense when dealing with these issues. I will say it plainly. Students and teachers are human beings! Human beings cannot remain fully engaged mentally or physically for 7.5 or 8 hours a day with only 4–5-minute breaks every 50 or so minutes and only a 20–25-minute lunch break. Teachers and students are tired by September/October. The rest of the school year is just survival. Proper learning cannot take place in an environment like this. School leaders need to consider that "seat time" is in no way related to learning and teachers are not childcare workers, babysitters, or juvenile detention officers. School leaders must reduce contact hours between teachers and students. A 5–6-hour learning day plus after school activities is a better model. Teachers on an 8-hour workday will finally have time to do what they are supposed to be doing. Students will be better rested, have more time to study, and learn work-life balance. But even this will not keep some teachers from leaving. They have been mistreated and ignored for too long.


Teachers have lives outside of school. They are exhausted and tired of trying to do the impossible. They are tired of working 24/7, tired of fearing evaluations, tired of being underpaid and over stressed and tired of giving everything they have when they feel as though students don't care, parents blame them, and administrators refuse to listen.





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