So we all know by now the increasing and alarming rates that teachers-as well as other roles in the education profession have been leaving their fields. As a former teacher, I can relate to many of the reasons depicted as to why after years of dedication to the field, one may feel like completely taking a new path. The teaching profession is important and necessary, so what can be done to make more qualified teachers stay?
Why I Became a Teacher
I started teaching after I graduated college with a Communications degree and was looking for work after moving back home. I started substitute teaching, and was quickly asked to become a dedicated aide in a special education classroom for a child with autism. I loved being able to work with children, and seeing their growth that year, so the following year I applied to a teacher certification program and was accepted. I received my Master’s in early childhood education and became a first grade teacher.
Why I Left Teaching
I mostly enjoyed my five years as a teacher. However, some of the caveats that I felt were for one, the lack of flexibility and time constraints.
- Lack of Flexibility
I was asked to be at work at 6:40am, and had meetings almost every day after school until about 4:30pm. This did not include the extra time spent lesson planning, grading papers, parent-teacher conferences, after school activities, etcetera.
- Time Constraints
In addition to barely having any time to do personal activities and hobbies, an additional reason I left is because every year I taught, the rules and expectations increased -and autonomy decreased. I felt I had no control of what or how to teach, and especially while teaching through covid, the expectations of teachers became overwhelming. We were asked to teach virtually and in the classroom simultaneously, to make plans weeks in advance, the responsibility of keeping up with all the covid school safety regulations, and not to mention trying to teach an entire classroom through a mask.
4 Things That Would’ve Made Me Stay
To be honest, I love my job so much I can’t imagine going back to teaching (I am now working on the digital side of education). However, if conditions hadn’t gotten so bad my last year teaching, I probably would have never left. These are 4 things that would’ve made me stay.
- More Personal Time – Our usual 30 minute lunch break was taken away during covid because students had to eat lunch in the classroom.
- Less Meetings
- More Support
- More Autonomy
Every teacher is different, and school leaders should make an effort to check-in with their staff- see what they may need, what support can be provided, how is their mental health? That is definitely an attribute I receive in my current job that I didn’t have as a teacher.
My advice for school leaders is talk to everyone in the building! Really check-in and work together to keep our amazing education staff there, because we need them.