3 reasons teachers stop teaching
and 4 ways administrators can help them Stay
Administrators, are teachers at your school feeling overwhelmed?
Are you concerned that some of them might stop teaching? If so, you are not alone. All around the world, educators deal with similar challenges. Administrators can provide a more empowering environment for their teachers and how teachers can do their part, too.
Why they might be leaving
- Teachers feel overwhelmed. Teachers face students daily who have diverse learning needs. Add overcrowded classrooms and behavioral issues. Then, managing the classroom becomes almost impossible. As a result, students and teachers lose out.
- Teachers are bullied. Educators experience workplace bullying at a much higher rate—more than three times as high—than other workers. That number is on the rise. Staying committed in this kind of environment is difficult. It’s no wonder that teachers are tempted to use up their sick days to keep their sanity.
- Teachers are required to continually adapt. Teachers are asked to keep up with the latest trends and tools. Oftentimes these new resources don’t lend themselves towards real learning.
Elizabeth Mulvihill states in “Why Teachers Quit“:
“My first year, my principal called me into his office and told me to only teach to the standards, not teach anything outside them, and to not tell my students I was trying to prepare them for the real world or college. I started looking for a way out right then.”
Tragically, teaching to the test destroys creativity and real learning.
Ways administrators can help them stay
Are you an administrator? Here are some practical ways you can help.
- Empower your teachers. A study from Auburn University found that “Empowering teachers does not mean administrators relinquish the authority and responsibility that accompany their title and position. Rather, it means they share power with the people who are responsible for helping them make and implement decisions about changes within the school.”
- Give teachers more freedom to use their creativity and share their perspectives. When teachers have more control of their work environment, they start taking more risks to problem-solve together. Everyone wins, especially the students. Teachers are most motivated when they know they are making a difference.
- Invite teachers to share their own ideas. Empowerment provides the stamp of approval teachers need to know their ideas matter. Michele Hill suggests, “Garner feedback from your teachers in a multitude of ways. Surveys, suggestion boxes, shared documents, face-to face meetings, and proposals help you to see all points of view.”
- Schedule fewer meetings. Some teachers indicate that too many staff meetings take away from precious preparation time. This can make teachers feel like they aren’t trusted with how to use unstructured time.
What teachers want you to know
In “What Teachers Want You To Know“: Jennifer Gonzalez mentions that
“Meetings kill an insane amount of time: all-staff meetings after school, team or department meetings that gobble up whole planning periods, last-minute meetings, meetings that run over time, meetings that don’t apply to everyone in attendance.”
In the article, “Educator”, Michele Hill states,
“Make your staff meetings upbeat, interactive and inspirational. Create a committee to help you make staff meetings something that they look forward to and roll up your sleeves and join in. The greatest leaders remember that they serve their people, not the other way around. Be part of what your staff is doing; they will admire you for it.”
What teachers can do
Are you a teacher? Here are some practical ways you can partner with your administrators.
- Ask your administrator to help you guard your instructional time. Jennifer Gonzalez says, “How often are classes interrupted by all-calls on the P.A. system or buzz-ins from the office?”
- Try to see your administrator’s perspective. Think about the problem from the perspective of the administrator. Linda Kardimis writes in “How To Deal With a Difficult Administrator“: “Sometimes admins make bad policies. But sometimes there are other considerations that we don’t know about. The policy seems bad from our end, but we simply don’t have all the facts.” This is when teachers learn to listen and make mid-course corrections. Other times, a conversation is needed. These would be great talking points to respectfully bring up with your administrator. Look for those opportunities for constructive dialogue so that you can support your administrators and they can support you.
Administrators and teachers working together
Administrators and teachers can help their colleagues remain in the profession but administrators have extra added influence. In her article called Why Teachers Quit, Elizabeth Mulvahill writes: “I have reached the conclusion that there is one deciding factor that determines where teachers will fall on the continuum, one element that makes the difference in whether the teachers in any given school will lean toward positive and productive or desperate and crushed: That element is the administrator.”
How does ISP encourage teachers in the midst of these struggles?
After attending an ISP event, Pamhidzi, a teacher from Zimbabwe, said, “This workshop has just revived me. I was thinking of retiring from teaching. I’ve been challenged by the facilitators we are having here and how many years [they] have been in teaching. I have really improved and have been challenged and motivated.” Our DreamMaker conferences provide encouragement from veteran teachers. After the conference, teachers form their own communities locally. While ISP provides ongoing support, teachers now no longer feel alone. Nurtured teachers nurture students.