Why do teachers leave the profession?

Discussion in 'Education, Teaching and related degrees' started by Akando13, Aug 20, 2021.

  1. Akando13

    Akando13 New Member

    I'm a student studying Journalism & Communication Studies at Middlesex University currently doing a Feature Writing module. As part of my feature, I am required to conduct an interview (interview will be used to provide quotes etc. to support my feature). I will be writing about the recent finding which explains that new teachers are quitting the profession within five years of being trained. I was hoping to do an interview with someone from here about their thoughts on why they think teachers may be quitting so soon, the issues caused etc. Since this forum seems to be full of people in the field of education, I was hoping someone can help. I preferably need to speak to someone in the UK. A short interview via e-mail would be fine.

    Someone questions I'd like answered:

    - Why do you think teachers are quitting so soon after being trained?

    - What effects do you think this is having on schools as a whole?

    - Is enough being done to keep teachers in the profession?
  2. NorCal

    NorCal Active Member

    Low pay, too many students, and politics is what I've always heard. Or they're so young and they leave to start having families.
  3. Messdiener

    Messdiener Active Member

    There are so many factors, but I'll share a few:
    • Deficient training. When I went through my program, actual education classes didn't start until the second or third year. Even then, 90% were theory courses (general education theory, special education theory, etc.) with little in the way of practical, hands-on stuff. The second-to-last semester, there was a single course that offered classroom observations at real schools. Then, you had one semester of student teaching prior to graduation and heading off into the workforce.

    • Class sizes. At my first school, I had 35-40+ students per class. Mind, the classrooms were built for 20-25, so they were packed in like sardines. There was virtually no room for activities, and as the teacher I could hardly navigate the classroom.

    • Zero administrative support. Some schools have rules, and they're rarely enforced. If you write up a student, most deans won't even follow up. If they do, they verbally tell the kid not to do it again and send them back. No detentions, few suspensions, never any expulsions.

      Other schools simply don't have rules at all. I worked at a 'prestigious' private school that, beyond the dress code, literally didn't have any rules at all.

      Teachers weren't allowed to do any discipline beyond verbally asking students to stop screaming, running out the classroom door, etc. Asking students to stand up, face the corner, do extra exercises, stand outside the room, etc. were all prohibited. So, in fact, teachers had more rules than the students did.

    • Student engagement & behaviour. We all know what students are like. At the schools I've worked for, you get 1-2 students that actually want to be there, and 35-40+ that sleep, throw things, scream, walk out, make obscene remarks, threaten the teachers, etc. Any attempts at discipline are met with "No, I won't do that", shouting, or students walking out.

      This has been the same whether at a low-income, government-run school or a private school. There's only so much of this that the average human being will put up with.

    • Lack of resources. Depending on the school, teachers may not have textbooks, markers, chalk, boards to write on, paper, etc. The last school I was at, we were limited to something like 30 photocopies. As in, a lifetime limit. After that, you either had to stop copying or had to do your copies outside the school at your own expense. Yes, this was at a private school.

    • No failing. At both government and private schools I've been at, there has been a clear policy that students cannot fail. This has taken various forms.

      At one school, I was able to fail students for my class, but they'd still progress on to the next year and still take the next level of my subject, without having understood the basics. Imagine moving on to higher level maths or French without knowing the first level's material at all.

      At another school, it was even more intense: no failing marks at all. That is, if a student missed an assignment or failed an exam, teachers couldn't give a zero. They had to give opportunities for students to do the assignments and retake exams. If students didn't do so, passing marks still had to be given.

    • Low pay. This is obvious. For the number of hours we put in (whether in the classroom, at the office, or at home), compensation is clearly not enough.
    I could go on, but hopefully, this gets you started.

    At the last school I was at, a colleague told me that most teachers drop out after a week. Yes, a week.

    In other schools, most teachers last 1-2 years before either moving on to other schools or dropping out of the profession entirely.

    For those that stay on in the profession and/or don't school hop, they tend to either be hardcore teachers, who have nerves of steel, or they've simply given up and go through the motions to collect a cheque. Students tend to be afraid of the former, and they take advantage of the latter. Neither is really a good situation.

    Overall, I have tended to see the latter, and this means schools are more chaotic. Students learn that they can get away with most anything: screaming in class, walking out, talking back, using electronics openly, etc. So, when newbie teachers show up, they're doomed from day one due to the poor environment established by the defeated veteran teachers, who just give up and offer a free-for-all class daily.

    Regarding the no failing policies, these teach students that they can literally do whatever they want and still pass. This further adds to the chaos one finds in schools.

    Hardly. You will find the occasional school that functions, has good administrators, has proper policies and whatnot in place, and offers some modicum of a reasonable salary, but these seem to be the exceptions that prove the rule.

    For some or even many of us teachers, it may feel like the average school's administrators, board, etc. are actively work against students and teachers alike, and this shows when we look at the teacher dropout rate.
    LittleShakespeare90 and Dustin like this.
  4. This is such an important question. I am a high school English teacher that is contemplating leaving the profession for my own mental health. However, I have often heard that poor working conditions, administration, unruly behavior, and low pay are the key reasons why teachers leave. :(
  5. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Gee, how could it happen? What could possibly go wrong with taking highly educated and dedicated professionals, pay them horribly, treat them with disrespect, overwork them, and meddle constantly in their work?

    Who knew they would have other options?

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