Why half of the nation’s new teachers can’t leave the profession fast enough.

A mass exodus is happening in k-12 education. Research shows that 50% of new teachers leave the job before year 5. That number is consistent across the country and represents a giant chunk of the workforce. According to study conducted by Alliance for Excellent Education, teacher turnover costs the US 2.2 billion dollars annually.

When asked about this costly phenomenon, Dr. Atkins, the assistant superintendent of Lee County Schools, one of the largest school districts in Florida, mentioned that his district’s strategic plan included goals to reduce teacher turnover. He also mentioned the first step to achieving these objectives is to understand why people leave – a key element that was missing in years past.

It took me all of 10 minutes to find that key element. I didn’t need a fancy strategic plan or a lengthy research study. I simply asked 10 teachers, with various years in the system and at different levels, the question, “Why do you think 50% of new teachers leave teaching before their 5th year?”

Disclaimer – Obviously a larger sample would be more ideal, but I wanted to prove a point: instead of speculating and arbitrarily blaming different things for this phenomenon, just ask around and you will find some answers pretty quickly.

Consistent across all teacher responses – lack of support by leadership.

As we ring in the New Year, how about a little self-reflection? Perhaps, the problems start at the top with the nation’s education commissioners, superintendents, directors, principals and assistant principals.

However, when asked about the cause for this rapid teacher turnover, Dr. Atkins cited lack of professional development and inadequate training in college of education programs.  And he’s not alone; lots of leaders continually say the same thing about teacher turnover, “We need better teacher preparation programs.”  It’s a phrase as prolific as, “we need to close the achievement gap” or “we have to compete in a global society.”

If people are saying they don’t feel supported by leadership, it isn’t a college of education problem or a professional development/training problem – it’s a leadership problem.

The teachers I asked did have other reasons for leaving, but those reasons can be indirectly or even directly related to inadequate leadership.  For example, a number of teachers said, “little to no planning time and being assigned the most challenging classes and students.” This happens all the time. New teachers are thrust into the most challenging situations the first year – remedial, intensive classes that tend to have the toughest behavior issues. The classes teachers teach and how much planning time they get is decided by the leaders in the building.

When I asked one teacher why he thought so many leave the profession, he said, “I have to work two jobs because my teacher pay is so poor. So, I work retail on nights and weekends. The funny thing is, my managers in retail are better leaders than those in my district.”

Six of the 10 teachers I asked said being blamed for everything wrong with education and even the problems of the country is enough to walk out the door.  “Who can blame new teachers for not wanting to take on that responsibility?” One said.

Leaders should do more to protect their teachers from this kind of unrealistic scrutiny.

Another response, “I could talk forever about this. But to keep it short….teachers quit because we have all the responsibility and little or no authority in the classroom. Administrators don’t support teachers and often don’t trust our judgment as professionals. It’s very hard to stay at a job where you are not supported, appreciated or trusted. Add disrespectful students and parents, and it becomes a daily battle to go to work.” A daily battle to go to work sounds like reason enough for anyone to leave the profession. She went on, “My stepdaughter has been teaching for three years and she’s done. It’s sad because she’s a teacher at heart – this is her calling. But she says no way. Her main reason: lack of support from administration and parents. She said she is held responsible for things she can’t possibly control.”

This was another commonality among responses. Most of the teachers I asked said having their occupational fate tied to students’ scores on high-stakes tests was too volatile and not an accurate proxy of teacher effectiveness. Tying teacher pay and evaluations to test scores was a decision made at the very top – first with President Bush’s No Child Left Behind and now with President Obama’s Race to the Top.

But what about professional development and adequate training cited by so many educational leaders as the reason for the mass exodus?

Not one teacher I asked mentioned college of education programs or lack of professional development. In fact, many teachers feel over-saturated with professional development and are frustrated that PD has become a vessel for an onslaught of unsupported district and state mandates.

Over and over again the consensus among teachers was lack of support by leadership.

Looks like we found the “key element”; now what can leaders do?

  1. For starters, create a better environment: support teachers, listen, help, and be nice.
  2. Don’t over schedule teachers.  Teachers need time to plan and time to work with peers.  Take some of that money spent on testing and throw a teacher an extra planing period.
  3. Take all extra, bureaucratic, busy work off teachers’ plates and let them teach.  Enough with the fat; trim it and give teachers some extra time.
  4. Restore autonomy and creativity back to the classrooms.

I just saved the US public schools 2.2 billion dollars a year. You’re welcome.
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301 Responses

  1. Chris

    The previous research on the subject is completely in alignment with your sample of 10 people. Authors including Darling-Hammond have reported on the 50% turnover rate, and given reasons for years. The leading reason was always lack of administrative support. Issues including pay and benefits were ranked toward the bottom of the major issues. Out of the top 10 reasons, administrative support was the only issue which was directly affected at the building level, and the only one which could be easily controlled from a central office perspective.

    Self-reflection indeed, many of those people are incapable of self-reflection. Greg Adkins does not have the leadership ability to manage a grocery store; how he has lasted this long in senior administration is amazing (no offense is meant toward grocery store employees, I knew a man who left a 10-year career as a teacher to become a general manager – he is much happier, and better compensated).

    The issue is not just the loss of good teachers within five years. Poorly run districts such as Lee County have lost an immense amount of leadership and executive talent. Lack of administrative support affects other administrators too. The problem is akin to a cancer; nothing will improve, until all the cancerous cells are removed.

    Reply
    • Writer 64

      This is not a new problem. In 2003, after 10 years of teaching as an adjunct at a community college, I took a full-time position in a local high school. By the end of the year, I was what might be called a “battered teacher”– couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, had high blood pressure, etc. I left, as did 40% of the rest of the staff. It was lack of support from the administration, while constantly being harassed by new requirements, while not removing disruptive students, while not– bottom line– leaving me alone to actually teach. If I taught for 20 min out of a period, I considered myself successful. It was hell. I went back to adjunct work, which is insecure financially but at least allows me pedagogical freedom.

      Reply
      • Heather

        I left teaching after 11 years in the classroom. I’ve gone for 6 1/2 years and I don’t miss it at all. I said when I left ” I would have stayed but I didn’t get to teach anymore.” I was a babysitter for students who didn’t want to be in class & the administration didn’t care that a few students were ruining it for everyone else. The pay was also not worth it. I love what I’m doing now- I work for an international non-profit. I have way less stress, more money in the bank, and I have a manager who supports me.

      • RF69R

        After spending over 20 years defending this country with hopes of making a difference for the future of our country, working for the department of education has made me feel like I’ve wasted my time. Working for the department I work for, it’s clearly evident, (some) administrators are in their positions simply to punch their tickets and move onto their next position.
        An example can clearly be see how an administrator in a high school can become a principal and have never even been in a classroom in a high school.
        I’ve managed over 1200 people after a 20 year career in the military with countless experiences. Enough life and death situations to make anyone learn how to make important decisions which benefit others, other than yourself. I now attend meetings with an assistant principal who takes a parents side because the parent says: “You don’t have to be concerned with the future of my child after high school”. I’m sorry: I thought I became a teacher to help your child. I don’t know who is more pathetic, the parent or the assistant principal (the enabler of poor parenting).
        Some administrators perform their duties as though they were running for congress rather then making decisions which make students better educated citizens who can make a living for themselves.
        Bottom line: As a country, we spend enough on taxes that the department of education should not put sub standard administrators in positions who are more interested in their next job, than the future of the student.
        However, in the defense of some of them, they act that way because some districts put the fear of God in them to ensure they don’t get sued because of “No Child Left Behind” and are fearful of expelling a student because of repercussion of having to deal with a superintendent.
        If ever there is a difference to be made in the educational laws, parents should be told to keep their children at home if they go to school and want to act like fools, sleep, or not dedicate themselves to learning. In addition, administrators should not be dictators and act in fear instead, they should make the hard decisions based on teachers recommendations. Anything other than that is a waste in tax dollars for every American.

      • Amanda

        My issue lies in what do I do besides teaching? I have a degree in Special Education and I honestly do not know what job to look for or who would hire a teacher.

      • Kelly

        I left teaching a year and half ago after 15 years of teaching children with special needs in Philadelphia. I truly miss my kids. I don’t miss the system, the anxiety attacks, the high blood pressure, the emotional, mental or physical abuse, the insanity of the constant testing, yearly curriculum changes where the baby was always thrown out with the bath water, the over sized classes or what I refer to as the warehousing of disabled children, the lack of support from administration and parents, the lack of supplies and time, the constant badgering from the district administrators, the filth of the buildings, and the feeling that no matter what I did or how hard I fought for MY KIDS, it would never be enough and no one was listening or cared. I left my classroom on that last day, defeated, with tears in my eyes. I did not however, give up my fight for our kids. I opened my own preschool, ran for and won office on my towns school board where I continue to fight to do what is right for our kids by being someone who listens to our teachers, respects them as professionals and give them the support they ask for. I miss teaching my kids, everyday. I was good at it. I only hope to be as good fighting for them in a new arena. Teaching is a young persons field now. It is physically impossible for someone to do 35 years in the field anymore. It just takes too much out of a person and a real toll on their health. I do advise that if you are going in to teaching you will need a back up plan for when you leave the profession sometime in your mid 30’s.

      • Anita

        I did the exact same thing. Started in Community Colleges, but wanted to teach High School. High School teaching was a living hell, so I went back to teaching at the local Community College, where my pay isn’t any better, but the administration trusts me to know how to teach, where the students are at least better behaved than in high school, and where I feel appreciated, not blamed for every ill of society.

      • tabitha

        Thank you. I taught elementary, jr. High, and high school. This was my experience across the board. I feel tightness in my chest just thinking about it.

      • Lena

        I just finished reading most of the comments, and I am in tears. On the one hand, I am crying because I realize I am not alone. So many of the comments reflect my own thoughts. I began teaching in 1991, but resigned in 1997 to raise my children. I returned in 2014 to a middle school art position. I also have a Master degree in Exceptional Student Education. Art, however, is my passion, and I was thrilled to be back in the art classroom. I love sitting with my students while we think critically, problem solve, and create art. I even love the way my room smells of art supplies!

        Unfortunately, all is not well. We are severely limited on the number of detentions and referrals we can write for any student with an IEP or a 504 plan. The same limits are put on African American students. In fact, writing any detention, much less a referral, is seen as a serious lack of classroom management skills. I happen to agree, somewhat, because the students do not bother to show up anyway, so these forms of discipline are seen by the students as empty threats. But, I do not think this would be the case if Admin backed us up. Most of the teachers at my school do not mention any discipline problems in theirclassroom so that they are not labeled incompetent. Admin was so happy after the detention/referral data was published by the county and we had a huge reduction in detentions and referrals (of course we did, because we were strongly discouraged from writing any). Admin was so happy, in facts that they had pizza brought in to celebrate. I could not eat it because I felt sickened by the whole farce.

        At the beginning of this year, I was told I cannot give any Ds or Fs as grades, no matter how well deserved. Isn’t this illegal? Admin said it did not matter because it is just art class, after all (gee, thanks).

        The second reason I am crying is because I was asked to resign earlier this week. One of my students (I usually have between 35-40 students per class) began regularly calling me “Cracker”, “Whitey”, “Frosty”, and “Green-Eyed Devil”. I called her mother several times, and she said she would talk to her daughter. This child is constantly in trouble, yet they just dismissed her from her 504 program. As I mentioned, I was afraid to tell Admin because they want us to deal with our own problems and not bring them to Administration (which my Dean said is a sign of a well-managed class). After several days of racial slurs, this student then began calling me “Whore”, “Bitch”, and a “Smelly Cunt”, among other things. I had enough, and I did the unthinkable; I yelled at her, and said that every nasty name she called me was like giving herself rope that was going to end up with a serious consequence. I said this to a black child, and it was filmed by another student without my knowledge. Of course, the student took it to mean lynching because I am white. I took it to mean exactly what the idiom means: allowing a person to continue with a behavior that will result in negative consequences so that a lesson wil be learned. But, how stupid could I be? I would not sign the resignation papers, but I will be fired nonetheless. My Principal sent out a synervoice message that was received by almost 600 households. The message included my name, the city I live in, and that my racist attitude will not be tolerated in this county or any county in this state. She assured the parents that my certification will be permanently revoked. Three teachers were forced to resign for matters similar to this last year, so what was I thinking? Actually, I was not thinking because I had enough of the racial slurs. By the way, I was blamed for making it a racial issue. I have a very good lawyer, and many of my rights were trampled on (the police department came out to take my statement, and then escorted me from the building, sans handcuffs, but in front of the students and staff which was more than embarrassing. He told the person from HR who was pretending to conduct an impartial interview that, “these ‘Angels’ are usually not held responsible for their actions, but he said he will make sure society knows who to blame when the ‘Angels’ grow up and Become society’s worst nightmare”. He said he would make sure it is known that it is rarely the teachers’ fault, rather the lack of leadership. I don’t know if he hurt my case with that statement, but I was glad he said it!

        Had I known teaching had changed this much, I would have never returned. Now my life is ruined. Sorry for the length of this post, and if you were able to get through it all, thank you. I worry about this county’s children, but it can no longer be my problem. The wonderful state of Florida has decided I am unfit to teach. Perhaps they are right, and I was the adult in the situation. But, how much is a person supposed to take. When did educational “leadership” start condoning disrespect? My heart feels like it has been torn out, for I did love teaching.

    • Sam

      In reply to the article (couldn’t find how to reply to the article on my phone so am replying via this comment reply)… over saturated is a great way to put it. We do need more time to plan and to grade. Leadership should be fighting for budget availability to higher moee teachers so that classrooms aren’t filled to the brim. Or better yet, cut out all of the money spent on PDs that waste our time (we call them Teacher Detention where I work) and put that funding towards highering more teachers…and more subs so that we dont end up in situations where we have to give up our only prep time to babysit someone else’s class…

      Reply
      • Dwon

        Ok….hard to listen to your rant when you mis-spell “hire” twice…

      • Dwon is a Troll (or Tool)

        Dwon you’re a troll. If you read the first line, you’d see Sam was using a phone to respond (read: predictive type). That said, you clearly understood / read the entry, but decided to be a troll and call Sam out for a non-issue to support your over inflated ego. Get a life.

      • Erica

        We need more teachers so desperately. At my school we are already short one math teacher and another math teacher gave her 30 days notice before Christmas break. I have been teaching an extra class and have had no planning since the first day of school. Now I will also be doing this in the spring semester because we are short two math teachers. We need to hire more teachers and we need smaller classroom sizes because at this point I am simply babysitting. This will be my fifth and final year as a teacher. I plan to go back to college full time in August for a completely different degree and I’ll never look back.

      • Barlow

        Do you mean more time is needed to plan and facilitate instruction rather than grade? At times, teachers will use the term ‘grade’ as guided, descriptive, and corrective feedback which is crucial for successful instructional tasks.

        With differentiated and scaffolded instruction, including students’ self-monitoring their own growth, time won’t be wasted ‘grading’ a bunch of papers that will not be looked at again. The goal is for students to teach in order to demonstrate mastery with skills and concepts and transfer their knowledge when applying in other areas. Teachers who can do that do not have to ‘grade’ a bunch of papers. All students will exceed expectations and grades are clearly evident with brief daily formative assessments integrated into tasks.
        The ‘Hows’ would be another response topic.

        Seeing a focus on ‘grades’ and planning tells me that we have teachers needing purposeful direction from leaders. Hence, supporting the article.

      • Loves To Teach

        Great comment Barlow!

        There are too many poor leaders in the field of education. Those who are really inspiring and supportive are very few and far between. Why? Too many of them left the classroom for the money and because they genuinely did not like teaching and/or were not very good at teaching. In many states, you can become an administrator with less than five years of teaching experience. I didn’t begin to feel comfortable in the profession until about year four. I taught for 15 years before moving into an administrative position, not by choice, but because I was told I was needed elsewhere. I’ll always be a teacher.

        Teaching for at least ten years before having the option to move into administration should be mandatory. Also, administrators should be required to have a mentor work closely with them during their first year, just as some places require this of teachers (up to three years!). Finally, we can allow administrators to become academic leaders again by getting rid of all the useless testing and managerial labor that has become the hallmark of school building and district leaders over the course of the last decade.

        I have not been overly impressed with teacher candidates coming out of teacher prep programs over the same period, generally. Professors in these programs usually have little or no public school teaching experience. Also, there are too many courses centered around theory, not enough around methodology, so candidates enter the field, too often, still unsure of how to write a clear learning objective or how to vary their classroom positioning (physical) as well as their instructional delivery to nullify student off-task behaviors.

        Teaching is an artform that takes years for even the most gifted among us to master. Being able to witness a master teacher at work is like having the chance to observe a fine surgeon in her element or maestro in front of his orchestra. Generally, how long does it take to “master” such professions?

        My best to us all.

    • Kat

      When I started teaching, if a parent had a complaint, their first stop had to be the teacher where most of these issues were resolved. Even if the parent called the principal, they were referred to the teacher who knows what goes on in the classroom. This is not the case today. Parents go directly to the principal and in some cases the superintendent. It spirals out of control because administrators have no idea of what happened in class, then they side with the parent. At that point, the teacher has to unravel everything in order to straighten things out, which could have been done to begin with if the chain of command were enforced.

      Reply
      • Michelle K

        This is so true. We also have to spend so much time retelling and retracing the events of the “problem” that has been blown out of proportion.

      • Patsy Claus

        I taught in the public school for thirty years, beginning in the 70’s. In the beginning the principals supported us, we were innocent until proven guilty. When the government got involved with No Child Left Behind, suddenly the now super pressured principals decided the teachers were guilty and had to prove their innocence. I blame this pressure on the schools to single-handedly fix inequality with these unattainable, unrealistic goals tied with Race to the Top and now Common Core for the exodus of the teachers. It took me a few years to master a grade level back in the good old days. I’m so sad how things in our schools have turned out for new teachers. I loved teaching.

      • Scott

        Unfortunately, we live in a time where, especially in the more affluent areas, parents want a “full service” educational experience for the child. If they don’t get it, they feel they have to go straight to the top, because they don’t have the time it takes to follow a chain of command.

      • ppruitt

        My MIL taught elementary school for 30 years before she quit. The last few years she was verbally attacked and threatened by parents who disagreed with the grades their children received. Yet they never had time to help with homework or show up for a school activity. She was not backed up by the principal or the superintendent and said that ‘teaching to the test’ was not the way to educate children.

    • keith dunkelbarger

      I have read most of the comments and feel that the comments could fit any employment opportunity. You will always have 10% of the participants (students, teachers, bosses, coaches and government leaders) that sway from the norm. Unfortunately, they pull along additional participants to agree with them. Children, if asked probably would say that their parents do not listen and employees if asked might say that superiors do not listen. The goal is to help people if you can and realize that there will always be an 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of your profit, success, accomplishment will come from twenty percent of the customers, students, efforts. Likewise, eighty per cent of your problems will come from twenty percent of you students. Focus on the eighty percent, let the state or federal prisons deal with the rest. Pain causes growth.

      Reply
      • Digger

        You can’t just focus on the “eighty percent.” If you do, you have administrators grading you down for not differentiating your approaches so that the other 20% can succeed.

        I suppose you only brush the front 80% of your teeth, since they’re easy to reach and won’t cause you problems. Screw those back molars, they need remediation anyway.

      • Erica

        It’s difficult to focus on that 80% when every day has become a nightmare..it simply isn’t worth the stress and anxiety. Everything is backwards. Why do we as teachers work a hundred times harder for the students’ grades than they do? They are the ones who need to take more responsibility. Everything is so backwards right now. My job as a teacher has driven me to anxiety attacks and I’m on daily medication for it. Idk..just my opinion.

      • Ohio 2

        Unfortunately we are unable to focus on just the 80%. With the new rules for OTES, our job depends on it. If students score poorly on their 1 day test they take, our job and evaluation is at stake. Easy to say for others who aren’t in our field. What I find interesting is that while many are willing to criticize teachers, many couldn’t handle the behaviors of 25-35 students at one time let alone making sure they learn EVERYTHING we are expected to teach them.

      • Jody

        That doesn’t work when we are told that 100% of our students are suppose to increase their test scores to make benchmark. The people that are making decisions for education are not in the classrooms seeing what we deal with on a daily basis. I am leaving education after 27 years and it’s not because I don’t like teaching. It’s because we are told reading and math, reading and math and let’s throw in all the testing the kids are put through. It breaks my heart to see kids become numbers. My 7 and 8 year olds are not getting the experiences that I use to be able to give my students and the fun projects we use to do. Instead they bring in “coaches” to tell very capable teachers how to teach. That $ should be put towards more teachers and reduced class size. I am sad to say I do not recommend anyone go into my profession anymore.

      • Anne Tenaglia

        Easy to say when you’re not in a classroom with 25% of the kids having severe emotional problems. You CAN’T focus on the 80% because the 20% won’t let you, and the principal won’t handle the situation. No one is allowed to suspend anymore. Even if we refer for counseling, they MIGHT get seen in 3-4 weeks because the counselor is only there once a week or once every two weeks. The parents are little help.

        Administration’s lack of support and teachers’ lack of time are the biggest culprits.

      • Barb

        Excellent comment by Keith. The bell curve can be applied to almost every event in life. Unfortunately, CCSS and NCLB (catching up to the world of acronyms) has confused the 80/20 philosophy and the majority of students and teachers are suffering because of it. 20% of the teachers in my school do 80% of the work towards school improvement. Those same 20% put in the longest days, volunteer their own time and spend a great deal of their own money on resources. 100% of the teachers and students benefit to some degree because of those efforts. When it comes to “perks” from administration via “scheduling preferences” and technology allocation, it seems that the 80% (ers) are rewarded with these benefits more so than the 20% of teachers whose efforts far outweigh the latter. We transfer that same philosophy to the students because we reward poor behavior with special programs and added attention. The world is upside down and we are sending the wrong message through bad examples and mediocrity.

    • bill

      Lets face it, if your going to be a professional public school teacher the respect you recieve will not reflect the responsibilities your intrusted with. You will be overworked. Your duties will seem like you are the adoptive parent of many children. You’ll be expected to purchase materials and supplies not only for yourself, but for some of the students in your class. As Administrators are shuffled around, you’ll be blessed with a boss who probably never spent more than 5 years in a classroom. One who is on a power trip. One who (like a bad teacher) gives busy work to teachers to justify their job. All this, for an unbelieveable UNPROFESSIONAL salary. Can you imagine telling an electrician, backhoe operator or car mechanic they are doing a needed public service and shouldn’t focus on how much they are paid. Nuf said.

      Reply
      • Buckeye

        Amen! It’s really hard to accept that reality, but it’s the truth. All the complaining will not change the what in store once you sign the contract.

      • tony

        great system to get teachers! go to school for 3 1/2 years. spend last semester student teaching, where you get to do ALL the work while the “cooperating teacher” sits in the lounge and reads a book. then the topper — they get the paycheck while you PAY your school thousands of dollars for the honor to get their ok to graduate. my civil engineer son, meanwhile, graduates and gets 50 grand to start and after five years is at triple digits and deals with two people all day.

    • c

      The quality of a teaching position varies from state to state as does salaries. You really can’t have a general discussion about teaching. Florida is the laughing stock of the US for teaching, as is North Carolina. I don’t know why anybody teaches in these places. Those teachers would be happier in other places. In my own experience, I found Maryland principals to be far superior to new Jersey principals. There are good places to teach and bad. The discussion needs to be about how to make the quality of the job more consistent.

      Reply
      • HSSS

        How much time have you spent teaching in North Carolina, or Florida? I’ve worked with dedicated colleagues in both public and private education in NC. The two biggest issues I’ve experienced are lack of administration support/politicking, and the lack of parental involvement.

      • John O.

        How can you generalize the discussion as such? Having read many discussions, and having had may of my own over the years, the issues are consistent across the board everywhere. In NJ they have good principals? Not according to some. Florida is a wreck? Well, have you been to Oklahoma, or Mississippi? Or LA County?

        The “general” discussion is about the article, and others’ shared experiences from all over. Things are in a bad way right now, and It isn’t even really the administrators at the building level, it’s the politicians who pass policy along to the states, and districts and tell us “this is good stuff”.

    • Sciteacher

      In Arizona, Only 3 years of teaching is required to pursue administrative certification (which takes 2 years). Many admin have 5 or fewer years in the classroom, which is just enough time to get proficient, and then begin leading schools. No other leadership or management is required outside of education either. The low requirements to become an administrator is a problem.

      Reply
    • Jane

      i am a retired teacher of 38 years. How did I survive? Ignoring administration as much as possible and doing what I knew was right in my gut and biting my tongue when reprimanded. Discipline problems are never death with by admin. Except the way the parents want so my grade level just ignored them and did our own. Not that it is right, but if you do not expect support not getting it does not bother you. Was ignoring and bypassing administration the right thing? YES as Imrun into many of my exstudent you tell me their year with me was there best and made it worth it.

      Reply
      • Esther

        love it! I retired after 29years and I smiled a lot with administration but I pretty much did what I thought was right as far as teaching my students went. I’ve had many students look me up and tell me about their success stories and thank me for loving them enough for never giving up on them. I taught sped., Resource class before inclusion came to be. Actually I did inclusion for 2years before I retired. Teaching is not easy and I also developed some health issues while teaching but it was also good to me. Find a way to make it work for you and if it doesn’t,leave before you get to hate it and those good students who deserve someone who will go to bat for them when no one else will. Good Luck to all.Esther

    • AJ

      I work in a state where that they cannot even agree on what standards to follow, yet the legislator has decided how we are to be judged on our effectiveness as teachers. One teacher of the year used the formula proposed by our legislators which uses test scores as well as observations by the administrator and she would have failed miserably. Failure would mean losing her job. It is a sad fact that people who are not educators are
      controlling our jobs. I am a 20 year veteran & cannot imagine doing anything else. I love my students, but looking
      elsewhere sounds better & better.

      Reply
    • frustration

      I would love to be a teacher. Teacher college at the university I attended my students lives miserable. I have a learning disorder and all the exams and unnecessary extra work made it impossible. I substitute but the pay is low.

      Reply
      • Esther

        Keep trying,you can do it! Believe in yourself and talk to people who can help. I taught special Ed. And many of my students who went throught my class went on to become teachers. It is possible..

      • brownin329

        I am currently a preschool special education teacher (SEIT). I am also an autistic person (Asperger’s). I am trying to leave this profession as soon as possible. I have been in this field, minus the two years I was in grad school, for over six years. I do not advise pursuing a career teaching to anyone; however, if you really want to do it, please make sure your institution is a top-notch one who will really TRAIN you on how to teach as well as support your learning disability. If not, get your certification and become a tutor or a private instructor. You can always work in a low stress area, a specialty subject or a for a non profit institution, such as a museum. I am trying to move back into publishing, where I was before I taught, but it is hard for some reason. The pay is lower, except that of a tutor, however, you won’t have to deal with the craziness and the politics. Good luck to you!

    • Katie

      No offense to teachers, or administrators of public schools – but I’m kind of glad I’m homeschooling my kids.
      A few of my friends have been teachers and after just the 1st year, they are looking for different professions and going back to collage for other degrees. I completely agree that Teachers (at least the ones that actually care about their students) are being misused and their degrees in their fields of choice is being pushed down the toilet because of all the stupid testing they have to cram down students throats nowadays.
      I believe if teachers had more power over their classes and what they taught or how they taught, it would be much more conducive to the students as well as the future of ANY country.
      Speaking from experience here, I honestly do not remember 90% of the stuff that was taught to me in High School, or below that! Mainly because the teachers didn’t get to “teach” they just gave assignments. BORING! The only teachers I really remember are the ones that TAUGHT the stuff, not just handed out assignments just because it would be on a test at the end of the year! Also, if a student doesn’t want to participate in the class (special needs excluded of course), then they should be removed! Why put an extra stress on the teacher? Disruptions happen, but utter disrespect, or discord is something that shouldn’t be allowed to remain.

      My parents taught me the most important thing during High School – RESPECT starts with ME. If I don’t respect myself, how can I respect those around me or those in authority over me!? That includes teachers! Kids who don’t respect their parents, will NOT show any to someone else! Teachers are being misused and abused by schools because the LEADERSHIP (from the POS president to the lowest admin on the board) is treating teachers with very little respect themselves!
      Give teachers more power in their classes, more time for planning and more time for TEACHING instead of being force to cram 1 hr and 30 min of teaching into just 20 min!

      Sorry for the rant… I’m very much an advocate for proper teaching! Including allowing teachers to discipline in their classrooms (to an extent)! Ok rant over! enjoy!

      Reply
      • John O.

        No offense taken. As the article (and some of the commentary )states, teachers have lost autonomy. I have taught at the college level, and certified and experienced in teaching AP science classes but I have to take up the slack with physical science, the bottom rung of the academic ladder.

        For me, this year my classes are a dumping ground for kids in transition, or kids that have failed everything else. I teach at a very very low level and my evaulation observation I was told I am teachign over there heads. I explained it’s not possible to go any lower, unless I can get a vocabulary list together of monosyllable words to describe chemistry, atoms, and compounds.

        I have received a below-average rating because I had kids not paying attention during a lesson. These are kids who never pay attention in my class or any other class, and have not for a long time, as in YEARS. Now, my job is on the line because I was given knuckleheads who don’t want to be there and refues to do any work, when I could be getting a completely different group ready for college science.

        I’m done. 7 years and I won’t look back.

      • Beverly Fraud

        Except, as it has been pointed out, the sample of ten dovetails nicely with what has been shown to be the case with much larger representative samples.

        Think about it; what are the odds that the ten teachers he asked COMPLETELY missed the boat on why teachers leave?

        Thank you for your participation; class dismissed.

      • John O.

        Do you have a clue what the article is about? Do you read the comments? Do you understand?

  2. Virginia

    I’m in year 23 and I’ve about had it but since I’m so close… It’s the evaluation system, the PGP. Nothing I do directly in the classroom matters, only how and what I write in the PGP and the one hour observation (formal) and now the two informals. This has stressed me out to no end. Brevard is very lucky that I love my job!

    Reply
    • Stephen London

      Weird. I so could have written your post. I am also in year 23, a year away from my pension, and it can’t get here fast enough. Between absurdly hige classes, the latest dickish principal and the ridiculously pointless evaluation dog and pony show LAUSD has imposed, I work harder than ever with no raise in 8 years.

      Reply
    • Lisa

      I, too, could have written your post. I am in year 26, getting closer and closer. As soon as I can retire, I will. Sadly, I love teaching, but there are so many things I have absolutely no control over at work that my job has started to take a toll on my health.

      I wish I could be certain my students came to school every day, were well-fed, stayed awake in class, brought the necessary materials, etc. Regardless of all of these things, I am largely evaluated by how well THEY do on that ONE test.

      Reply
    • Tracee

      How do you only get evaluated 3 times a year? With the new evaluation system at my school, I am being evaluated 6 to 8 times a year! I can’t think of any other profession that has to deal with this type of evaluation system.

      This is my 11th year teaching and it gets harder and harder. Like so many others I have to work a 2nd job and I still can’t make ends meet. And, I still have to find time to grade papers and do lesson plans.

      Another person commented about not doing as much work that needs graded. Everything these days is data driven and data typically requires concrete numbers and the gathering of statistical information which often means it has to be something that is graded. My family always has to take a back seat because of the personal time I spend doing school work and working an additional job because I can’t make it on a teacher’s salary.

      And I won’t even start discussing the way parents are these days. Wow.

      Reply
      • Sucker for kids

        IUsed to love teaching!

        I am in year 23 of my teaching career. It is ridiculous how bad it it has gotten.

        In my district if it is not documented, it didn’t happen. That includes teaching, parent contacts, and RTI! Also, district motto is “All means all” so you can’t just focus on the 80%! If you add the years of experience in the classroom that my three administrators have, then double that sum, you still won’t get my years of experience. When I ask “district personnel” for resources, my AP fusses at me for going over her head. But if I ask her for anything I never get it even if it is available! Our “coaches” keep pushing small group instruction. They want us to teach ONLY in small group. How do you get over 20 students to work quietly so you can work with just 4-5 at a time? Students now don’t pay attention during large group instruction. They ignore you and wait to learn it in their small group sessions. What a dis-service to them that is ! How are they going to learn anything in college if they are waiting for the professor to call them over to a nonexistent small table!? I have high blood pressure, foot problems, and spend countless hours after school trying to differentiate lessons, assignments and assessments – always the last car left in the lot when I go home. My principal dumped a bilingual class on me – AFTER he made me change grade levels against my will. And NO – I am not bilingual or bilingual certified. Somehow my principal knows how to get around laws and rules to do what he wants. I am killing myself trying to do the job – I feel like I am “starting over” at age 47 and ignoring my own 12 and 8 year old children at home. God bless my amazing husband! And I’m so sorry, mom. I know I’m not there for you and you are alone since dad died last year.
        I would NEVER have signed up for these changes and work load during this time in my life!!! Does my principal even care? Not about me, obviously. He only cares about his test scores so he can keep his six figure income and go home before most of the students do every day!

        I have six years to go before I can retire. Pray for me that I don’t die of a heart attack or stroke first.

  3. Melissa Tomlinson

    i have three degrees and I, like most teachers, are treated as we have no cognitive ability to make a decision. In my opinion, if the folks at the top making the rules, policy, and mandates would just ask the troops in the trenches, many problems with education could be resolved. Afterall, we are educated professionals like them. i have often asked how many heart surgeons get blamed when a patient dies due to not taking care of themselves prior to arriving with their heart attack? Not many I am sure, and they make a very large salary, and no one second guesses or questions their education or professionalism.

    Reply
    • A Finch

      These are excellent points! I understand the point of not being allowed to make a decision or have your input respected. I too have worked very hard to improve my ability as an educator by gaining additional degrees and working hard. However, to most that doesn’t matter. Many of the best educators have moved on to companies that will promote them based on their ability and knowledge to be productive employees. In addition, education employment is cheap. Employers had rather hire people with less education and experience, that way they can pay them the bottom dollar. Therefore, there is a flow of age discrimination, experience discrimination and lack of concern with making decisions that are best for children. Everyone deserves a chance and should be provided the support needed to be productive employees whether they are younger teachers or veteran teachers.

      Reply
      • Writer 64

        You make a very good point here: “what is best for the children”. It amazes me how often they are left out of the discussion. The children are treated as if they are all the same, and the classes as if every one of them is the same. Children are unique; teachers are unique. When do get to have that respected again. It used to be, you know. Hasn’t been since the 80’s, but it used to be.

    • Dawn Casey-Rowe

      This is an important discussion. I have always had 2 or more jobs. Now, I have 2 simultaneous careers. In my day job, I feel zero authority/impact outside my immediate impact w my students (which is not to be underestimated). In career 2, I have dealt with really high-impact contracts, things, client materials, and ideas. If I stop to ask permission I get the blank “go do it” stare. Career one: institutionalized. Career 2: Don’t ask. Do.

      Oh, did I mention I own a business. I fired myself, my staff is better than me. However, we wouldn’t hire anyone we couldn’t say, “Don’t ask: Do” to. Education is the place of the disconnect, not the rest of the world. Any corporation run like we run our schools, or the entire system of education, would be dead. Quite simple.

      Reply
      • Confused

        Am I the only one who doesn’t understand your comment? I seriously have no idea what you’re trying to say…

      • Chug

        Confused — she’s saying that the schools are run like the teachers are all idiots. Teachers have to get the OK for EVERYTHING they do, no matter how obvious. Administrators don’t let teachers make any kind of decisions. Successful businesses, on the other hand, expect their workers to get stuff done without requiring them to check with their managers for every stupid little thing. If they did, the businesses would fail, just like our schools are failing. Only because schools are publicly funded, they keep going, no matter how poorly they’re run, where a business would simply go out of business.

    • Just Retired

      Well said Melissa T. I don’t blame my dentist for my cavity (poor brushing) why do parents blame me (report card) when their child does not do his homework?

      Computers will replace human teachers! Good luck arguing with the computer at parent conference time!

      Reply
      • Jerry

        And human teachers will be reinstated when parents decide that they want their punching bags back.

      • Frustrated in year 3

        I agree! However it’s not just parents blaming me for their child’s poor report card. My principal has blamed me for “not doing enough” to help the child. According to her I should force the child to stay after school (regardless of parent approval to do so) to make sure the work is done or don’t give homework at all. How is a child suppose to practice what they are taught if they aren’t given homework, especially when there isn’t time in class for it?

    • Bonnie Howell

      This all makes me sick to read. My daughter is student teaching and has went to school for years for this degree, And for what, To have a job and respect like this? Education has changed so much and not for the good, Charter schools are moving in so fast and they don’t care what kind of teacher that they hire. its just another way for the government to break unions!!! You young people that don’t believe in unions just wait!!!!!!!!

      Reply
      • Lori

        I hear you I graduated from art school with honors went on to get an MFA to hopefully teach at college but the environment for college art teachers is hard to get a foot in the door so I went through a teacher preparation program and got my first middle school job. It did not last past the October, I had to many kids they dumped kids that hated art in my class because it was elective 40 plus kids in the start down in the thirties when I was left go. Anyhow long story short they wanted to much , did to little to help and held me responsible for everything from students not turning in assignments to no names and even when others claimed work that was not theirs. I have taught adults and worked as a sub in K-12 but after going through this job I find myself doubting if I will teach K-12 again.

    • Lindsay

      In regards to your heart surgeon analogy, I would like to comment as I’m a CV surgical nurse. In nursing/medical field, we run into similar challenges. We actually have government mandates. If a heart patient chooses not to take care of himself and is re-admitted into the hospital, we do not get paid for that patient. The hospital eats the cost. Which in turn affects my salary. Doctors often have to follow certain mandates that they may not agree with clinically so that they and the hospital can get reimbursed. In nursing we too struggle with being a female dominated profession and salaries are not great. It is difficult being in the public servant sector because you are constantly being told to put the patient in front of your needs, the needs of your family, etc. just as you experience in teaching. I cannot speak to the salary of our CV surgeon as I feel it is unprofessional to ask. What I do know, however, is that the litigation risk is extremely high; people sue doctors, nurses, hospitals no matter if the demise was of their own doing and the malpractice insurance the surgeons pay is approximately 3 months of their salary annually. Malpractice for an RN isn’t nearly as high but the risk of being sued because someone wants to blame someone else for a death that was not the fault of the provider is always at the back of your mind. I do know the average salary for a nurse practitioner is about $85,000 and that now requires a doctorate as an entry to practice. Especially when hospitals have been known to terminate staff involved in a suit because they become a risk. In addition, anyone that treats patients (PAs, NPs, docs) must carry a tail on their malpractice, which essentially means they are paying three months of their average salary per year for about two years after retirement to protect them from any suits that may occur in the last year of practice.

      Reply
      • Sucker for kids

        Yes. Only in teaching and nursing are you supposed to write down what you are going to do (lesson plans) and then write down again that you did it (documentation). Both professions are severely under appreciated!

  4. Sandra

    I have 3 degrees including a Ph.D. in this business (and not from one of the degree mills…the actual real thing) and 32 years of experience. I stuck with it back in the day because I didn’t really have any other choices at the time. There have been many times when I’ve worked for really awful administrators but it all goes back to what happens in the classroom. It becomes an exercise in compartmentalization. I love what I do in the classroom and do my best to endure and minimize the impact of the rest. I do take exception to the blame being laid with teacher education programs. Most programs are hamstrung by the requirements imposed on them…they can’t raise their standards because there won’t be enough butts in seats; they can’t wash people out who are substandard because there won’t be enough butts in seats; they can’t give assignments/tests that are challenging enough to make people think because the student evaluation forms and websites like Rate My Professor slam them. The days of the college professor being more or less autonomous to prepare teachers are gone. So, even at the college level, it’s a lack of support for the teacher. In Finland, the standards are higher for teacher colleges than anything else and they are essentially autonomous to make learning happen without testing. Extra support is given for the asking to the teacher AND to a struggling family. We’ve got it wrong here and we know it…no one wants to make the change because it costs too much. Administrators at every level are immune from the lack of support so the nasty smell stuff continues to run downhill and good people leave the job because of it. There is no more powerful motivator than enlightened self-interest.

    Reply
  5. Pamela

    As serious as I know this article is, I couldn’t help but find at least one spelling and grammar error(s), Shame on you. Maybe you’re not so sainted/educated as you would like us to think…….and you’re reporting! What a joke. No high scores for you! Perhaps you need to go back to school……

    Reply
    • Mary

      Pamela, nothing ends a serious conversation faster than a fixation on technical details to the exclusion of legitimate content. Shame on YOU for ignoring a serious point because of a small number of minor spelling/grammatical mistakes. That approach to discussion of issues is why so few people can have rational conversations. Maybe you should consider whether the content is legitimate rather than whipping out the red pen and proofreading without noting content. (BTW, I spend a great deal of time teaching logic. Your comment can serve as a perfect example of a specific type of logical fallacy.)

      Reply
      • Loraine

        Well said Mary! Blogging is not like being a journalist, where the copy editor catches any grammatical errors the writer makes in haste to meet a morning deadline. In an ideal world, we’d work all day and come home to write an error-free blog, but in general, it doesn’t happen, and I’d rather have good ideas with a few grammatical or punctuation errors than empty drivel perfectly punctuated.

    • Katie

      I’m blown away by your comical response. Especially because of your incorrect use of the ellipsis. By your own logic, perhaps you too ought to return to school. I bet the author is just hanging her head in utter shame at her mistakes as I’m sure you too are at your mistakes. What, oh what, would we do without the sainted and educated grammar/spelling police out there. Thank you so much by making us aware of our mistakes by making yourself an example. We are utterly humbled by your actions.

      Reply
      • Josh

        It should be written, “Thank you so much FOR making us aware of our mistakes,” not BY, you crazy hag. At least make sure your own grammar is correct before trolling others.

    • Denice

      Shame on you Pamela- while I did notice some minor spelling errors- remember this is just a forum not a graded essay! The points being made from many are right on the money!

      Reply
    • layla

      Pamela, you are what is wrong with education! Please go away and and troll another sight. Perhaps, your services are needed in editing a phone book.

      Reply
    • Kenneth Tilton

      I look at it this weigh: if the New York Times is publishing typos and grammos I never saw in print in decades of close peroosal, then there must be some physical law of the universe preventing us from successfully proofnig on-line text.

      Reply
      • Writer 64

        I wanted to just write “lol”, but was told that my response was too short. Therefore, I offer this: point made well. A pleasure to read.

    • teacher

      Thank you for saying this. Totally agree! In order to be credible you need to present yourself professionally. At least use spell check!

      Reply
    • Roster

      Start a union that will help. If you dont get what you want strike there A**….spell check that!

      Reply
    • Karen

      I hate to drag out your petty comment that is not the point of this article or discussion, but physician, heal thyself. In a paragraph of just under 60 words, you have made the following errors of grammar/usage/mechanics: comma splice, subject/verb agreement, improper capitalization, and improper symbol and usage of points of elipsis, all of which are covered well before twelfth grade. That places your error rate at ~9%. Even if those are ignored, you’re completely lacking in the requirements for effective written rhetoric. You have completely lost your credibility with this poorly planned, revised, and edited attempt at argument. What you have effectively done is create a truly egregious magnification of the very things you have taken issue with, while concurrently distracting conversation away from this desperately needed conversation. Ms. Jasper made no direct claim of being an exceptionally well-educated authority on this topic; indeed she explicitly states to the contrary that she recognizes her methods were not worthy of published research and that her sample size in particular was likely too small. Addressing those opposing factors, as required for effective argument, tells us she is indeed a well-educated critical thinker who is capable of sophisticated analysis and the written communication of such. You would do well to consider your audience prior to submitting your case in a public forum.

      Reply
      • Stephen Stollmack

        Karen: Talk about “distracting the conversation away from this desperately needed conversation”, I could care less about someone’s grammatical errors (not everyone has the time to write a treatise on all that is going on in the world today) especially if I can’t even refer back to the comment — to see if the errors really had an effect on what the person had to say — because you did not include the commenters name in your rant.
        In case you all had not noticed, our world is going through some terrible crises currently, ‘what and how we should teach our young people’ being one. Our civilization has already cycled through periods where it was thought that the purpose of education was to teach people how to think. Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were written by men, most of whom were regarded as intellectuals and where has that gotten us today. They debated whether corporations should have the same rights as citizens back then but they missed the opportunity to put in the protections needed because of the strength of corporate lobbies back then. The point being that intelligent people with good intentions can still get wrong how the future will unfold. The issue now is: faced with a population (6-7 billion) with all the problems greedy banks and manufacturing industries have gotten us into (countries straddled with debts to each other and ultimately to banks) that they cannot repay, what is the safest way to proceed: 1) educating all people to be thinkers as we thought our forefathers and past great presidents were; or 2) standardizing education and discouraging free thought and thus avoid the mass confusion and labor intensive and time-consuming cooperative approaches to solving our problems (that Democracy for 7-billion people can involve) ? If, in the next few years, the fears of human-civilization induced or accelerated climate change becomes painfully evident do you think that we would have time to change the Education System from one one bent on producing robotic (non rational thinking) potential employees to one where most graduate as independent thinkers? The majority of the people just want to be taken care of and not made to feel like they don’t have a chance for satisfaction of their basic material needs because of the color of their skin or their parent’s IQs. The stage is being set for a return for fascist control on a larger scale than ever before and people will approve if they feel like the leaders are capable of solving the problems of climate change, energy, pollution and an adequate food supply.
        Clearly teachers have not exhibited the toughness to stand up to the corporate movement’s to take control of education over the past 50-75-years; they have been content to have a job they love (or loved) and unwilling to take charge of any aspect of it like curriculum development or resistance to tests. Now, faced with virtual checkmate, we find them threatening to leave the profession rather than making a stand and taking real initiative. Spiritually, I agree with their complaints but I am getting more and more tired of the whining every day.
        20-years from now you all will realize that the changes that are in the air (including non-political ones like the evolution of computerized learning techniques) presented huge chances for making changes in the power structure that they are ignoring. We have all been spoiled too much and it is showing. Who ever said that life would continue to be easy – there are no guarantees.

      • al

        Karen, Looks like your $29.99 spent on Grammarly was put to some uses.

    • Laura

      Your response is a real-life, micro-like, example of what happens that causes articles like this to get written.

      I want to say that this is true but I am also certain that not all schools are like this.

      Reply
    • Carol

      Shame on you, Pamela.. I hope you are not a teacher teaching children to criticize and bully. Go to corporate America where you can get away with that behavior. After spending 32 years in the corporate world, I can assure you that one miss spelled word is not going to get any punishment. Many executives that I came across couldn’t spell or form a decent sentence. But they knew how to manage people and a business and were therefore, successful.

      Reply
    • Martha

      Pamela, are you aware that it is both incorrect and redundant to use more than three periods at the end of a thought?

      Reply
    • Joseph Sharper

      Pamela, I am an educator and found FIVE grammatical errors in your post. Nice try. From the tone of your attack, it is obvious that you must be an undereducated administrator.

      Reply
    • George

      Pamela – I noticed one spelling error, but considering the high quality of the content in general, only a jerk would assume it’s anything but a typo. Shame on you.

      Reply
    • Tammy

      Pamela – if that’s all you can find to comment on in this discussion you need to butt out. I’m the mother of a teacher in her 3rd year and its been very hard for her. She is a great teacher – she just had an excellent evaluation. But all the admin bs and the parents really get to her.

      Her heart is definitely that of a teacher – if only she could be left alone to teach.

      And there are ways to evaluate teachers without tying it to test scores. Good principals with an ear to the ground should be able to discern problems with teachers.

      Reply
    • Sharon

      As long as you’re editing, check your own work. You’ve misused the ellipse. It’s a mark of punctuation to denote a pause, and it consists of three dots (…); no more, no less.

      Reply
    • A Teacher

      Pamela:
      Before commenting on the grammar and spelling errors of the article, you should really check your writing for errors. I would not be so quick to judge.

      Reply
    • RAS

      Also, since you are essentially trumpeting your superiority in the arena of grammar, please explain why you use five dots instead of three to indicate ellipses– and, indeed, why you are using ellipses at all, since they are used to indicate not a pause but a faltering of an idea, or an unfinished phrase, sentence or thought. Then there is the question of your bracketed s, which indicates you are unsure whether you have created a plural or not (you haven’t). To round this off, you follow the bracketed s with a comma, and then begin a new sentence. How ironic that that sentence is “Shame on you.” People in glass houses… (N.B. a correct use of ellipsis)

      Reply
    • susan

      My thoughts exactly. I fully support the message, but I was unimpressed by the lack of proofreading. As for my thoughts, I’ve been teaching for 25 years this year. I moved from New York to South Carolina this year and changed grade levels. Big. Mistake. I have been treated like a first year teacher. It’s like I have to prove myself worthy everyday, and I’m exhausted. The joy has left me. The kids are cute, but they lack discipline and respect and so that is what my job is. I pray it improves, and that I love my career again, assuming I survive this year. This is the first time I’ve ever found mysekf looking at the help-wanted ads each week.

      Reply
      • susan

        How irionic. I did not proofread either, and got what I deserved. Karma.

  6. sara

    Pamela, given your response to this as you call it “serious” article, sounds to me like you are one of the leaders this article is referring to. Instead of supporting what the article stands for you are finding the one or two things wrong with it. Like you’ve never made a mistake? Dream on. This article is spot on, I’m going on year 8 of teaching and am experiencing similar feelings; lack of support, lack of time to plan, stress of paperwork, etc…it’s sad and I don’t think I would recommend becoming a teacher to anyone anymore either. I too feel this is my calling, but it’s getting to be too much. I have very little time with my family lately, making the thoughts of quitting become more frequent. If only the higher ups would hear us…

    Reply
    • Miriam

      I am year 18 and this article speaks to me on so many levels. There are only 24 hours in a day but the amount of small items added to our plate are adding up. They take time away from actually planning and grading. 200 kids? No problem. You didn’t need to be a parent or spouse anyway. Sleep? What is that. I just love spending 15 hours on a weekend grading instead of watching my son play ball.

      Reply
  7. Georgia

    It’s sad when even veteran teachers who love teaching are ready to make a quick exodus. We are extremely overwhelmed and teaching is no longer fun anymore.. It’s all about test scores and finding fault in the teacher… Never examining the root of the real problems in education… After year 23- I find myself questioning whether it is worth it… My stress level is through the rough, my health now being impacted and my anxiety level is increasing wondering what the future holds… I love students, teaching and my school but at what cost should I pay to be this uncertain, unhealthy and unappreciated… The state of education must change and I mean change for the better or we are going to not only lose new teachers but veterans too…
    ~ Unhappy in Georgia

    Reply
    • Dawn Casey-Rowe

      Nice to see your comment on this. I am in your camp. One thing that’s helped me sort this through–besides the students I help–is getting out into the wider world community–Twitter chats, meeting other like-minded people who share ideas and material. The thing is–our schools are small, and there are only so many people in common in each one. Opening the doors to the world–the possibilities are unlimited.

      Also, another thing: I realized that all the data I had to collect, the testing, the policies, the high-stakes fear… I can’t control any of that, I can only change my reaction. I choose to do that by continuous learning myself, showing my students that example. Did you know the average student will have 7+ *careers* this coming generation? I’m a transitional generation. I’ve had 4-5, depending on how you view it. Careers, not jobs. This means we must always be flexible.

      Flexibility means I might walk away from the table, however, while I’m there, I have better lessons for my kids. I’ve never taught better, though I’ll probably get some big fat 1’s on the Danielson rubric. I know that doesn’t help, but it’s a start. I’ve found that the more I worry about me instead of the system, the easier it becomes:)

      Reply
    • Lindy

      Amen to that! I started teaching at age 41, after a 16-year career as an RN. If I could retire right now, I would. I will only have 20 years in, when I retire at 60 in five more years, but I’ve had enough.
      I teach art–talk about lack of support! Now, my “tests” to prove “student growth” take precedence over actually teaching students to think creatively, and create with their hands. It’s so disheartening.

      Reply
      • sheryl

        I understand. While I was a TA for four years and subbed for three years, I didn’t start teaching until I was 46 years old!!! I taught for four straight years, became frustrated with education and the disrespect that came along with it, and took classes to become an RN. However, my brain couldn’t adjust to chemistry and A&P. :-), so I gave teaching another try, only to become frustrated again. I received my Gifted Teaching certification (I also have a Masters in Elementary Ed.) and taught 90 gifted students, thinking it would be easier. But, I had to grade 90 assignments, tests, etc, and deal with parents whose student(s) never got less than an “A”. I was disrespected by parents, not supported by administration, and downright disappointed. At 55 years old, I transferred districts where my “Gifted Teacher” role is mainly “enrichment”. No papers to grade, just two progress reports per year, generating some rubrics, organizing trips and learning to conduct Professional Development sessions (this is new to me!). I have stepped out of my comfort zone and am learning how to teach Robotics to my kids and also facilitating “Math Olympiads” groups. However, I must say I enjoy this new role much more than being a regular classroom teacher. While there are parts of the job I would prefer not do, overall, I like 70% of my job which is better than the 25% I enjoyed at my last teaching post. I can empathize with all teachers. Once I retire from teaching (if I stay that long), I’ll have 18 years in…I’m not worried about that, I just want to be happy. With 10 more years to go, I hope I can remain mostly satisfied, because that is a long to be unhappy. When the satisfaction goes, so do I. You’re never too old for a new adventure. God bless all you teachers out there!!! I know what you’re going through!

    • Paula

      This is my 19th year of teaching, and sadly it is probably my last. No matter what we do as educators it will never be enough. I teach in Texas and the lack of support is ridiculous.

      Reply
      • Snow

        This is my 21st year of teaching and I feel the same way about the lack of support! I was in Texas for 15 years then moved to Arkansas. I am so ready to retire, I’m tired of putting in 15 hour days 6 days a week (yes, I go back to school on Sundays)! I only have 3 more years and then I will be eligible for retirement BUT I have to go back to Texas for my last year. I will continue since I am so close! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

    • Jen

      Amen! This is year 19 for me and I feel the same way! I still enjoy being in the classroom and love my students, but I don’t like the stress I feel, nor do I like seeing my students stressed out over state tests. I am held accountable, but parents are not. While many expect their children to behave at school and make good choices, some parents don’t bother.

      Reply
    • MN Teacher

      I can definitely identify with your comment. This is my 34th and LAST year of teaching and I am looking forward to the end of the school year. I have a long list of reasons why I am glad to be at the end of my career, such as: lack of planning time, dealing with students who have no respect for authority, lack of parental support, having to spend every evening and weekends correcting student work along with entering grades in the electronic grade book and preparing for the next week, lack of time for working with students who need extra help, dealing with students who continually make poor choices when it comes to their behavior, dealing with students who are at 21 different levels for reading and trying to make sure they are all at grade level at the end of the school year, making sure I have taught everything required (Common Core/State Standards), completing referral forms for testing and spending hours collecting work samples and making sure I have used enough research based interventions so a student can be tested, and last, but not least is hoping that I have done my best with EVERY student so they are prepared for the MN Comprehensive Assessments in the Spring. Oh, let’s not forget my 27 minute lunch period, which includes walking my students to and from lunch. Thirty- two years of poor leadership and lack of support haven’t helped to make the job enjoyable. Thankfully I can end my career with an administrator who supports the staff.

      Considering the daily stress I deal with and the toll it has taken on my health, leaves me wondering if it has been worth it. Teaching has consumed my life and I know there are things I would do differently if I had to do it all over again. The joy in this job comes from seeing a student’s reaction when they finally make that connection to what I am teaching. Despite being overwhelmed and feeling unappreciated by many, I am here for my students.

      For the coworkers I leave behind at the end of this year, I can only hope there are some major changes in education (for the better), before they decide to walk out the door because they are tired of dealing with the current state of education.

      (I apologize for any grammatical errors or misspellings, but its late and I still have papers to grade before tomorrow’s class.)

      Reply
      • another MN teacher

        Bless you, MN Teacher! Your well-earned relief from the difficulties you have faced (and survived!) is a loss to the future students. Bless you for your efforts of the past 34 yrs!
        I teach the youngest students, and they are a joy. At this age, their families are generally supportive, grateful, and receptive to suggestion. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the current administration. Sadly, the power seems to rest, in many schools, with those least qualified to wield it.

    • Michelle

      Right on Georgia. I have 30 years as a Special Ed Assistant & teacher. I have never hated my career as much as I do now. We have no less than 60 children ditching classes on any given afternoon yet they have 0 consequences. Teachers are being held accountable for things we have no control over & punitive measures of all sorts against teachers has made me want to quit everyday but I’m a single mom so I pray every morning before I get to work.

      Reply
    • susan

      You bring up an interesting point. So many of the comments are from veteran teachers and yet the article addresses new teachers. Clearly this problem is severe. What are our options?

      Reply
    • c

      I feel the same way – only taught 3 years – LOVE the kiddos – LOVE teaching but am stressed over long hours – unsupportive and just MEAN administrator – need to decide to stay or go soon! I do not know if I can handle one more year!

      Reply
  8. Keep the Arts for Kids

    Just retired after 38 years, 34 as a curriculum supervisor. The formula to drive teachers (anyone for that matter) out of the profession is to give them a high level of responsibility and accountability without any control of their circumstances. My question, and concern, is why so many leaders are comfortable creating such toxic work environments?

    Reply
    • LabRat9882

      This formula is genius. Thank you for putting it so succinctly. Now how can I lovingly suggest this to The Powers That Be on my campus without losing my job. . .anyone?

      Reply
  9. Ohio

    I am in year 10 and don’t think I can suffer through another. I’ve never been so angry, upset and downtrodden as I am this year.
    My administration is better than it used to be but still not good enough. I’ve dealt with threats from students, parents and administrators and it has come to a boiling point.
    I dread going to work and facing another day. I hate the idea of feeling depressed and anxious just to be blamed for things out of my control. I am exhausted from trying to implement all of the mandated changes that gave no bearing on my students’ education. And I am tired of being forced to deal with irrelevant questions because my administration refuses to stand up for me.
    I truly wonder what other options I have for the future. I am overly educated for my current job; I can only imagine what other employers will say.

    Reply
  10. Amy

    I taught special education and the students were never the problem. I was assigned almost 40 students on my IEP list (more than twice the number we were supposed to have) so every spare second was spent on their files and evaluations. Who had time for lesson plans and my 6 Resource Algebra and Physical Science classes? Add to that the pressure of state testing and the consequences if they didn’t pass and the deplorable conditions of my classroom (black mold) plus most parents who never showed up for meetings.
    Administrators treated my students and I like second class citizens. Then, as a “reward” for being “highly qualified”, I had to transfer to a school in the same district but 20 miles away because they didn’t have enough teachers with upper level degrees. On my first day at the new school, the SWAT team was called and locked us down all day – groups of neighborhood thugs were allowed to roam the hallways with no resource officer or security. I finally decided that was enough. There is no other profession where you could be treated so poorly for so little money and so little respect. It is amazing people still want to teach.

    Reply
  11. Keith

    I taught in public schools for 10 years in two different states. I’ve taught kids who slept in cars and kids who slept in McMansions. Like many veteran teachers, I’ve seen lots of things happen. Although I was generally liked and considered a good teacher by my administrations, I just couldn’t tolerate being an accomplice to “the system” that is alluded to in the article. I now work other forms of education, but not in schools, for the past 5 years. Teaching is a calling, not just a profession, and I realized I can still honor the call by honoring my self-respect and dignity. I don’t know if I could ever go back to classroom teaching.

    Reply
  12. CC

    I completely agree with the writer of this article. After 4 years, I left my school to go to a different district to teach. I never received a pay increase because I was hired during a pay freeze. Pay, however, was not the reason I left. I left because I had absolutely no say and no support from administration nor the central office. I left because I was drowning more & more in pointless paperwork from the school, county, state, and federal level and was given less time to do said paperwork year after year. My class sizes increased to 30+ (all of these things which could have been addressed and changed with strong leadership). When I left, colleagues at my school told me it would be the same wherever I went. Yet, they were wrong.

    I consider myself lucky. The high school where I teach is thriving, even in a failing economy and in the age of test, test, test. Teacher salaries are still frozen, yet we make it work. I went from having a smart board to a chalkboard (some rooms have dry erase and projectors/ I’m new again, so I have to earn those rooms- haha), but the really funny thing is kids learn through doing anyway and if we need technology, we pull out our cell phones. Wait, what’s that? We get creative? A year ago, I would not have known what creative was… My creativity had been stifled after my first year by a lack of support from administration.

    In my new school, I have double the amount of planning time, more flexibility in the number of grades due for progress reports/final term grades, and far less paperwork from the school and county. My administrators even joke and say that the teachers have enough on their plates from the state and federal level. My admin sees no need to add any more “fluff” to the mix.

    Everyday, I see administrators in my classroom. And everyday it’s the same message: “How are you today? Is there anything you need? Is there anything I can do for you?”

    That last one is pretty powerful, let me tell you. I have never had anyone of higher authority ask me if he/she could serve me in some way… never… in my entire life.

    And then the administrators take it a step further and praise my kids: “Great game last night, student x” or “Good luck today, student y” or “Sing your heart out at the concert tonight, student z.”

    When this encounter first happened, I almost fell over backwards. After leaving the door, I even asked some of my students, “Do they always pop in like that?” They reply, “Yeah, how else do you think Mr. VP#2 got to know all of our names?” A few of them even chuckled.

    Yes, that’s right… in a school of 1500 students with only 4 administrators, those admins know just about every student’s name.

    I asked an administrator about this later in the year. Over the summer, our admin look at school pictures of most of the incoming 9th graders. They study them. That’s right. They study them so that they can greet our students at the door.

    Lightbulb: My administration at my new school invests.
    They invest in getting to know the students.
    They invest in supporting and meeting teacher needs.

    How do they invest? Forget the money; they don’t have it. They invest with what they do have: their time, energy, and VOICES.

    Anyway, sorry for such a long response – I just wanted people to see the difference. Even though my salary still sucks and my classroom resources are more minimal now than ever, the support and the positive energy from the top down is amazing. The crux of the matter really is that “It is ALL ABOUT LEADERSHIP.” No matter how many years I stay in the teaching profession, I will be so grateful to this administrative staff I have right now. They have renewed my passion and fire to teach. I am planning a trip to Costa Rica with my students for 2017… I feel alive again in my profession.

    And to all of you out there struggling – know that you are NEVER stuck where you are… and it’s NOT “the same everywhere else.” There are greener pastures. There are administrators who will treat you as intelligent, learned individuals and regard your needs. Don’t let the system where you are drag you down. Find a successful one, run to it, and don’t look back. You are noble in your choice to teach. You are worthy to be supported. You are a professional and should be respected. You are valued and needed.

    Reply
    • Sara

      CC- The last paragraph of your comment brought me to tears. I am STRUGGLING. It is my first year and it was nice to read that becoming a teacher wasn’t the light at the end of my tunnel but finding the right school for me. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Kenneth Tilton

        Sara, you made it past Christmas! You are a survivor!

        Not kidding. The best advice I got during new teacher orientation was “survival is success”, though I did not understand it at the time because I had no idea what a war my first year would be. But the idea was that with experience we can figure things out as long as we do not flame out entirely. (Small ones are fine, the kids forget fast.)

        Btw, pro tip: your kids this year will not let you change. Just keep learning, then blow away the new crop next year with all the tricks you have learned.

        Pro tip #2: Do not wait for a more supportive school. The reality of the classroom is that no outside leverage over kids is on the way. It is you against them. All you have on your side is that you are right, but that is a lot: the worst kid knows they are wrong. Address them with respect but strength and the other kids will be behind you, and eventually so will the worst.

        Once you pull that off you will realize how much you are capable of, and go looking for a better paying career. Sadly.

      • TX Veteran

        Hang in there! This is year 34 for me – and while there have been many issues to face, I still know it was my correct choice!

      • Shannon

        Sara,

        I understand; it is also my first year and I am struggling as well. Come October, I was suicidal, and when I realized that (I wrote a mental suicide note, one day, on my way home from school) I decided that I needed to eliminate the cause of the problem…. which was my teaching job. I didn’t, because I realized that was a serious decision and it meant that if I quit now, in the middle of the year, that was it for teaching – if I later decided to try it out again, I’d probably never get rehired, so I stuck it out.

        It has been difficult, but things have gotten better. I am continuously changing, and growing, and altering things (classroom setup, lesson plans, discipline, rules, etc.) and it has helped.

        Besides, the fall is the hardest; now we’re in the home stretch. I don’t think that I’m going to quit now, although I don’t know how long I will be staying either, but I do think that it’s a combination of finding the right school (combination of administration, students, and parents) and also finding yourself. Being that it’s my first year, I know that my organization was not helping me at all; especially since I got hired in five days before the school year and had nothing done or planned.

        I’m lucky, my administration is fairly supportive, and so our my parents. For me, it is my students. Most of them just don’t care at all and I’m still trying to find a way to make them care. Just like other posters said, if someone has a cavity, it is not the dentist’s fault, but I feel like my student’s grades are my fault, and while they in part are, I can’t go home with my students and do their homework.

      • scienceteacher

        I would like to address Shannon the first year teacher who replied to this comment. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling responsible for your kids learning. I am in my fourth year of teaching and have been studying to become a science teacher since I was 16. It is all I’ve wanted to do since I can remember, but I think this may be my last year of classroom teaching, at least for a little while. This is not because of the lack of support from my administration (although that has been less than stellar), but a personal need for growth to understand and deal with situations we are put in every day with these kids. It is one thing for others to tell us that we can only help them so much, that some kids simply are not going to make the grade, or that their brains are underdeveloped and they don’t know the impact of their actions and words on us; but it is another thing to actually separate ourselves from their reaction to our hours of hard work and dedication to their learning. When I put together what I think is an engaging, thought-provoking, and fun lesson only to have a student asked me “Why are we doing this? This is stupid.” It is so difficult to remove my personal feelings from that comment. For this reason, I think I owe it to myself to take some time to mature and develop a thicker skin so that when I return to teaching in a few years (as I hope to do) I can focus less on those comments and more on what I can do to help that student in my classroom.

        I say all of this because while I know that teaching is incredibly important and can be very rewarding, it can also be extraordinarily challenging and we owe it to ourselves as educators to not completely give ourselves to our students. It is our life and we need to make sure that we are healthy and happy before we can fully give our students what we need. I hope that the year gets easier for you, and that you find a way to balance what these kids need and what you can give them. However, if by the end of the year you are still feeling depressed, please take some time to reevaluate before you jump back in. Sometimes you need to put yourself before others in order to be the most helpful, and while this may feel like you are giving up on your students I assure you that is not the case.

        Best of luck and if you feel the need to talk further, please contact me.

    • Shannon

      Amen!!! I love your testimony!! I love teaching and I plan to hang in there.

      Reply
      • Trisha

        I came upon this blog from a post by a fellow teacher who has just now begun her career as a teacher. She too has a “teacher’s heart” and is wonderful with the children. I pray for her daily as she enters the halls of confusion created by those who call themselves leaders.
        In March of 2014 I left my teaching profession on disability after 38 years of teaching. My job was my life. When I first started teaching my salary was a mere 6,000 a year. The low salary was not a problem for me because in those days we taught the children from the heart and with compassion and drive for the success we wanted the children to experience from their own doings. I have watched the children’s needs go by the wayside as our so called “leaders” determined that the students “whole” life growth was limited to a score determined by those who have never stepped inside a classroom in their life. Teaching became shorter, especially the last 10 years of my career as the demands for scores and evaluations took the number 1 spot. The last five years of my career I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and the anxiety of not being able to meet the needs of my children as individuals became the fuel to the fire of my illness. My principal did not support me, lacking in the ability to produce any form of compassion for my struggle to continue doing what has been my heart for 38 years. I taught Kindergarten most of my career and the new goals set up for curriculum as a whole (completely eliminating the importance of developmental readiness) went against everything I believe in the quest to educate my students academically as well as socially. I found it heart wrenching that a curriculum was set up that introduced the word “failure” into their vocabulary at the age of 5. If they could not read level 6 and could not name 32 sight words by the end of the school year they were deemed unable to be promoted to first grade. Now just as in the beginning of my teaching career there are some children who were ready for more than the basics of learning the ABC’s and letter sounds, but being taught myself that meeting the needs of my students as individuals was priority, their needs were met. While I was employed and responsible for the children in my care I put on paper what the “higher ups” wanted to see, but taught as I always had, to their specific needs. I always had a meeting before the school year started with my parents, “Kindergarten Orientation for Parents” explaining my expectations of the environment in my classroom, my role in helping their child discover their abilities, and that “difference” is okay. I always had great parent support and for that I was blessed.
        It was very hard for me to walk away from my job before school was out, but my illness, exasperated from harassment by my principal, left me with no other options. It was a big adjustment for me to not wake up and get dressed to spend the day “exploring” with my students as I had done for the past 38 years, but I have many wonderful memories of students I have taught throughout those 38 years as I watched them filled with excitement and joy as they discovered and grew in my classroom. I am saddened at the thought that many teachers today will not have the opportunity to experience that very thing because they are overwhelmed and dictated to what and how they can teach without even a passing thought to their developmental abilities, socio-economics, and differentiated home life.
        Would I recommend teaching to others considering? Only if they have a strong faith in the one who can overcome any obstacles these uneducated leaders of education throw their way. It is the only support they will receive in their love of teaching. I thank God for his blessings as the tides of my career went from gently caressing the shores of hope to the tidal wave that has developed since. Although I understand riding out your job until retirement for those so heavily vested, I am surprised that new teachers are lasting 5 years.
        To those of you fighting for your love of teaching and the system that has failed you, I pray your blessings will surpass the stress set before you by your “leaders”. God Bless

    • Mary

      CC, I too teach in a school with good administrators. Not perfect, but pretty darned good. They build relationships with our most troubled students which helps with behavior in the classroom. I have kids actually seek these administrators out when they need help. These students don’t have to resort to classroom disruptions, and I’m able to teach. For the most part, administrators protect our teachers from unnecessary paperwork, wasted professional development, and too much testing. They ask me how I’m doing and genuinely mean it. They thank me for my efforts on a regular basis. And, they throw a pretty darned good Christmas party which they personally pay for. I could teach in a neighboring school district for $10,000 a year more, but year after year stay where I know I am valued and where I’m able to actually teach. Oh, and I’m a special ed teacher in a full inclusion program where I am responsible for teenage students with learning disabilities and behavior disorders. No walk in the park.

      Reply
    • Kim

      Thank you for that last paragraph. It’s my first year and it had been more than rough. I have to script my lesson plans; which never seem to be good enough. I’m constantly being threatened that my contract won’t be renewed and I was flat out told that under different circumstances ( I was hired 2 days before school started) I would not have been hired. I wasn’t and am not good enough. After all this being said and it made to look like I have no idea what I am doing, my principal is NEVER in my classroom.

      Reply
      • ah1960

        Kim, my first year was also horrible. I was hired late, given no direction, worked on a cart, felt and was told that I was not doing a good job, and was laid off at the end of the year. I waited a year, went to a different grade level and a different school, and finally found my place. No doubt, this is a difficult profession and a difficult time to be a teacher, but if you feel called, stick with it. You will feel proud that you persisted and that you survived, and you will be the better for it . . . and so will your future students.

    • LabRat9882

      Thank you so much for sharing this. You voiced the concern that has been growing every year and threatening to kill my joy for good: that this was just the way education was heading and it would only continue to get worse, no matter where I went. I’m on year #8 and district #4, and I was truly terrified that the profession was no longer for me, as the issues seemed so progressive and systemic. You’ve given me renewed hope.

      Now, where is this Paradise at which you teach? I’m not joking — I will move all the way across the dadgum country if that’s what it takes to stay in my calling without sacrificing my soul!

      Reply
    • Jane

      CC- where are you? I have read your response to most of my teacher friends and we all want to come to your pasture!

      Reply
  13. Lynne

    Well, I think there may be lots of professions that aren’t easy and I know from experience that teaching is hard. I’ve had a great number of poor leaders. I taught 13 years in the public schools and that’s the primary reason I left the classroom to get my doctorate and move into higher education. But now I see another really terrible problem. Smart college students, primarily women, have a lot of trouble graduating college with $30,000 loans and starting out their careers making $35,000 per year. Many are still single because young people wait a long time to get married and don’t feel they should have to get married to a breadwinner to survive, which is exactly what they should think. It seems to me that administrator salaries have risen a great deal compared to teacher salaries in the 28 years I’ve been in higher education and the quality has gone down. Most of our elementary education grads quickly get masters degrees in Instructional Leadership in hopes of making more money one day. The best teachers are willing to take a lot of abuse to stay in the classroom but salaries, along with weak administrators, are also contributing to the problems. Higher Ed should take some of the blame too. Most of us were not able to survive financially until we left the classroom.

    Reply
  14. MImom

    My mentor teacher gave me this statistic before I even started my first year (which was over ten years ago). And he was right. I left at five but it was because I started a family. Not sure if I will ever go back, though.

    Reply
  15. Dawn

    Although I agree with the article completely, I am personally seeing a change for the better. I am in my 4th year of teaching and have recently had a change in administration at our school. Yes, I am stressed with curriculum and especially gaps in learning that are be coming more and more apparent after implementing common core but, my new administration “gets it” and is working hard every day to make us feel appreciated and important. There are some leaders who were recently teachers who understand where we are coming from and are trying hard to reverse the trend of mass exodus. I think that’s where we need to start…..training our leaders to be more apathetic and understanding and finding common ground with us teachers so that we are willing to follow them where ever they may lead us. I try to remain focused on the task at hand, which is to give my very best every day to the students I am responsible for a well prepared thought out lesson and that God will handle the rest. Our students need us to be our best, and knowing that they are our future leaders of this country, we need to give our best no matter what. Hold steady the course my fellow teachers. This too shall pass.

    Reply
  16. Bob

    Hmm, after 33 years as a medical research professor and occasional educator at the university level, I was considering working as a K-12 teacher. But after reading this article, now I am disinclined to do it.

    Another discouragement occurred last night when I listened to the ‘best of 2014′ of the John Batchelor show (a conservative talk radio host). He interviewed Mary Kissel of the Wall Street Journal, who flapped her jaws about education reform (public school administrators need freedom to fire bad teachers, cut bloated salaries, and so forth). Every failure was laid on the teachers, it seemed, without a word of the effects of the students’ extramural social environment, nor of the parents’ education and (probable lack of) participation in their childrens’ education. I think that Mary Kissel is clueless fool about the realities of K-12 education.

    Reply
    • Connecticut

      In Mary Kissel’s defense I can offer…hmmm…well…uh…sorry, I got nuttin’. There are so many “experts” who have never prepared a single lesson for a classroom let alone been in charge of a year’s worth of education for 25 kids each hour. They shouldn’t be advising anyone of anything. The same goes for legislators; they shouldn’t be writing laws until they understand what they are writing about. School is not like it was 50 years ago, nor are teachers, yet that’s the stereotype that sticks in everyone’s head (Ferris Bueller comes to mind). In my experience, (courteous) parent involvement is the primary ingredient for student success. The blame, responsibility, and kudos for success should be put where it squarely belongs: At the home.

      Bob, I switched after 30 years in another career. Find yourself a small city with some portion of economically disadvantaged students. Most of the parents that bother to show up will be grateful you are there, and probably none will believe they know more than you about your field of expertise. And, oh yea, be prepared for it being the hardest job you’ve done. And it might be the most rewarding experience you will have.

      Reply
      • brownin329

        Bob. Run. Run fast. Run now.

        No, seriously. Become an accountant.

    • Andy

      Bob, I got into teaching high school after about 26 years in industry. I’ve got 2 and a half years till I retire and 12 years in to date. Teaching has been the most rewarding part of my career and also the most work. Don’t drop your dream of teaching. Just be aware you will be hitting the books to learn the art. Likewise, you’ll be bucking malformed policies coming from on high. However, there is nothing quite like seeing the light turn on in a student’s mind when you guide them to understanding.

      Reply
  17. Michelle C.

    I am currently in year nine of teaching and I must admit to myself that I too agree with each and every word spoken in this article. At the tender age of 31 I find myself asking is it even worth it to continue. I love my students with every part of me but it does become increasingly harder to go to work everyday and deal with so many outside stressors that affects me in ways that you can’t even imagine. So many people who aren’t educators are quick to point out the “highlights” of being a teacher (I.e. Summers off, weekends off, winter breaks, etc.) but don’t look at everything else that comes with it. From grading papers, to dealing with belligerent children and/or parents, lesson plans, dealing with constant adjustments to curriculum due to city/state changes, teaching to the curriculum but adjusting it to meet accommodations and adapting that to different learning styles, being a counselor, nurse, therapist, babysitter, coach, security, AND still maintain exemplary test scores??? All for under $45,000 a year? We play many roles and yet are some of the most UNDER APPRECIATED on the totem pole. I mean think about it…EVERYONE had to go to some sort of school to learn something from a teacher. And yet the people who teach are the ones constantly pissed on.

    Reply
  18. bart walker

    My wife does not have a planning period to do work, she tutors her kids 4 days a week in it and the other day the principle has meetings. So she brings work home during the week and weekends like most teachers do. Wish the people that made the planning period at school on paper would make it a reality. We both could use the break for ourselves.

    Reply
  19. Rich

    I spent 39 years in the classroom and retired 4 years ago. I have to agree that the leadership gives little support to the teachers. There are other issues that need to be addressed also.

    One issue is special ed. Many of the students involved in these programs are disruptive, violent, and not interested in learning. When I retired they were routinely mainstreamed into the classroom where they disrupted the other students learning. There must be some way that they can be kept out of classrooms where they don’t belong. For example I once had a blind student in a Physics class. I was not trained to handle teaching visually impaired students Physics. This student belonged in s setting for the blind with teachers trained to handle their handicaps.

    Discipline is an area where special ed is problematic. Many special kids have a plan that virtually eliminates any consequences for their behavior. Students are routinely put back in class when regular ed kids would be expelled.

    These regulations are there from the federal government which provides funds for special ed. I wonder if some districts wouldn’t be better off if they refused these funds and the red tape that goes along with them.

    Reply
  20. JK

    The annual Met life survey of the American teacher backs you up 100% The 2012 publication focused on teacher morale.

    Reply
  21. DD

    From our experience as parents… the only good thing about school leadership is that they aren’t teachers anymore.

    Reply
  22. A T

    There is another simple reason with a few givens:

    Given:
    Each student is with a teacher for 1 hour.
    Baby sitter fees are a modest $5 per hour.

    25 students per class
    6 classes per day
    150 students per day
    5 dollars to baby sit
    750 dollars per day
    180 school days in the average school year
    135000 to baby sit these children for the school year.

    But let me get this straight…

    You want me to teach them.
    You want me to listen to their excuses for not doing the work.
    You want me to talk to their parents.
    I can’t really discipline them, but, I am expected to get results.
    You want me to correct them, but, make sure they master the material.
    And…you want to observe me, not the kids?
    You want me to spend my time on paperwork that nobody ever has time to review.
    You want to be able to change the rules in the middle of the school year, but I still have to be responsible to make the students perform on that one special day when the state decides to give the test.

    I could go on, but here is the kicker, you want me to do all of the extra work for only 35,000 to 40,000 dollars to start. In other words if you only want me to babysit them, I would make 100 grand more. And if you are getting the minimum wage per student, that original figure is plenty more.

    Teachers are worth much more than they are paid. When they feel that they don’t get any support from administration or get told that they are not good at teaching because their students didn’t perform well that one day a year, it is overwhelming. And when the grass is greener in other fields, which it is, they leave. 50% in 5 years is a horrible stat that this article addresses, yet, I was first aware of these type of numbers almost a decade ago. And it hasn’t changed! So, no matter what politicians and administrators are doing, it is still the same.

    So, let me get this straight, we blame the teachers. Really?!!!

    Reply
  23. Jason

    I’ve been teaching for nine years now. I was an officer in the military prior to teaching.

    I can sum up the problems with education in this country with a single word. Accountability. Simple as that. No system will work without it. The students, parents, teachers, administration, school board, and the voters must all be held accountable.

    A simple example of how the system has failed is easy to explain. Little Johnny has failed his 6th grade math class, but instead of holding him accountable and making him respeat it, he is allowed to go to Math 7.

    No system can succeed without accountability.

    Reply
    • Kenneth Tilton

      Jason, agreed completely. We are an affluent society that wants our kids to be happy, so we want them all to get As and all be in the honor society. Google “grade inflation”, check the ten year spike starting mid-sixties.

      But I am wondering if we are ever going back to the days when “do or die” motivated students? I hated school, did just enough to get Bs unless I liked a subject and got As. Now as an adult I am fascinated by all the subjects I hated — all of them!

      Can we get past mere “do or die” accountability and build true learning centers where learning is done for its own delights, without losing any rigor? What a challenge! I wish Gates had poured his money into that search instead of CCSS.

      Reply
    • Mary

      Well, it’s not really as simple as that. Kids with severe dyslexia may work their tail ends off and have excellent teachers, yet read at the 3rd grade level in 7th grade which given their disability is a major triumph. Kids with autism may be delayed socially and have sensory disorders which torment them and interfere with their learning. Some students migrate back and forth to Mexico several times a year missing lots of school. Other students have language delays. I had one student with childhood schizophrenia who had hallucinations so severe she required electric shock treatments twice a week. When she did make it to school she spent a lot of time sleeping. Would you continue to keep these kids from advancing forever? Put a 15 year old in 3rd grade? It wouldn’t help and could do a whole lot of additional harm. I’m all for accountability, however those picking up the accountability banner are bashing teachers (and now teacher ed programs) without knowing the complexities of what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, many of those with the power to demand accountability have never been teachers.

      Reply
      • Anon

        Yes. This. There are many factors in promotion/retention.

        Regarding the main issue My synopsis of needs from my vantage point (SPED teacher, inclusion model):
        1. Increase teacher/student ratio in gen ed as well as special ed.
        2. Provide additional planning times where no meetings are scheduled, especially for gen ed.
        3. Support via administration as detailed in previous posts.
        Salaries are adequate but demands on time are insane and unhealthy and preclude achievement of social and academic wellness for both students and teachers.

    • Susan

      Yes!! Education went down hill the moment the phrase “self esteem” came to the forefront. While we protected their self esteem we completely lost sight of teaching the students to cultivate self respect through hard work, dedication and effort. AND accountability.

      Reply
  24. Angie

    Texas
    I’ve been teaching now for 11 years in a charter school at a residential facility. The school is open to all that live in the area, howeve all but around 10 of the students enrolled at the school live at the residential facility. That being said, we are still a public school that has to give state tests and has all of the requirements of a public school in Texas. Do I agree with the statement that most new teachers leave because of lack of support by administration. Yes I agree with this. I’ve seen it at my school and heard about it from friends. I myself have not had the experience that many here speak of. I began my teaching career when I was 46 years old and did so through an alternative certification program. I’d done the corporate stuff and decided that teaching was my calling in life. So I did the program and finally got a job teaching. Well, my first year was baptism by fire if you could call it that. Thankfully I had the support of my administrator and she helped me. Then in my 6th year she left to persue other interests because her leader was not supportive of her. Yes it does go all the way to the top. After her departure, I got a new administrator and I was again blessed with one that understood me and went to bat for me at every opportunity. She truly cared about me. Of course that didn’t change what she had to do regarding scheduling and planning time etc. Again she had rules she had to follow regardless of how she felt. Of course she did what she could for me and listened when I needed to vent and talk about trouble. Of course it helped that she had been there in the trenches before as a teacher. She knew what it took and she tried as hard as she could to give us what we needed. Bottom line she had a boss that tied her hands. Then at the end of the last year that changed. We all got a new boss as in new superintendent for our district. She supports her staff and says salaries are too low and we need more support and all sorts of good things. She too came up through the ranks and knows what good people need and how to take care of her people. So yes I agree the trouble starts at the top with who we have as administrators and education people. As fars as what the state requires, voters need to elect people that have some sense. As in elect people who know something about education and can make the right decisions and then let the teachers do their jobs. They all love to teach or they wouldn’t be teaching. Cut the red tape and pay them what they are worth ( which is far more than they are getting). Remember they are teaching the leaders, doctors, and scientists of the future. How do you want your future to look? Pay us what we are worth and you will not be disappointed. Treat us with the respect and support we deserve and again you will not be disappointed. I am still in teaching because my first principal took me under her wing and then my second principal took up where the first left off. I’m still teaching and I love where I work because of my administration not inspite of them. I’m a very rare thing. Most teachers can’t say they have what I have. We need to change that. Thank you so much for writing about the real problem in education. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  25. Baltimore

    This article strikes to the heart of my daily musings. I am in my seventh year of teaching and this is the first year I have considered quitting. I have primarily worked in Title I schools since I started and love my students. This year I began working with a new school and administration, and it was the biggest mistake of my career. I have been bullied, threatened, and taken advantage of without any support of the administration. My principal even informed me that I and not the right person to work in her school, during my first week there. I have tried speaking with higher ups and have been denied any help. The only thing I was told was I should have had a union rep in the meetings, but my principal would be spoken with for not providing that. A slap on the wrist, if she was even spoken with, but my career may be ruined since I cannot leave without her recommendation. I have been actively looking for a way out since those first weeks of the school year but have already been warned if I leave my certification is at stake. I love my students and spend all of my “spare” time with them, but the joy those kids bring no longer outweighs the pain the administration is causing. It is sad that new teachers and old are being subjected to this treatment without any help. I have mentored student teachers and is honestly wouldn’t tell anybody to go into this profession if you don’t have tough skin.

    Reply
    • Pat Musil

      Always bring a union rep into the meetings…especially since it appears your boss doesn’t feel you are a fit for this school. I recently left (retired) from teaching. I had a good three years left…maybe four. I left a meeting in tears once I learned I would need my lesson plans in by Wednesday…all aligned to the common core standards. Instead of reaching out to a valued employee of 25 years, I was put on leave. Never had even a letter in my file before this. Give me a break…you are going to suspend me because I left a meeting 2 minutes early and in tears. Since Mr. Walker stripped our Wisconsin bargaining rights…the union didn’t do much for me. I decided I’d had enough and put in for retirement. I feel for you younger teachers. We all have so much on our plate…the public would never understand. Between lesson planning, gathering materials, correcting, documenting parental contact, dealing with discipline, taking classes to keep up our license, answering e-mails, submitting electronic grades…etc…we barely have time to catch our breath. Not to mention meetings and committee work. The general public has no idea what we do each day. I feel for you and hope you find a way out of the school you are in. Maybe there is one out there that will appreciate your talents.

      Reply
  26. GW

    For those thinking about giving up:
    I read the article and being a recently retired teacher(33years) I wondered how I made it. Looking back I spent my own money on supplies. There was a time when we received teacher’s choice but instead of increasing it decreased yearly. I always worked in a high needs schools. That means that the students were not functioning at grade level. I never spent time trying to fix what was wrong in the school I worked with the students I was assigned and I let them and their parents know I was committed to there success. I supplied what was needed to help my students succeed. There were times I thought I didn’t make a difference then I would hear from a former student and it made me feel like going on. In thirty years + I have walked into stores, churches, airports, and have been recognized and thanked. My salary was sometimes not enough but it was consistent many raises came retroactively and hit hard with taxes but I survived. Administrators can certainly contribute to teacher burnout and exodus. However, if you can set your face on a course to make a difference no matter what you will be rewarded and as you mature in the profession and are successful in the education of your students you will be asked for your advice and given an opportunity to share with colleagues. Get a mentor who loves teaching. If you know in your heart you are a teacher don’t give up. I have influenced the lives of thousands mot many professions can boast that. Keep your chin up and find the right school where you can make a difference .

    Reply
    • AA

      Thanks for your positive comment, GW!

      I am about to graduate from a teacher prep program in August. I’m a career changer making the jump from publishing into teaching elementary students. I did it because I wanted a job where the inherent rewards outweighed the extrinsic benefits, and because I truly love learning and working with kids.

      I currently volunteer with students at an after school program where many of the parents do not speak fluent English; they bring their kids in so that they can finish their homework and learn about the importance of reading.

      I 100% get that this is not the same as teaching, but the kids are always so happy to see me and I do feel like I genuinely love children and the learning process. Many parents and program staff tell me I’ll make a good teacher one day, which makes me feel so proud! I hope so! I read many articles online about teaching in a post Race to the Top world and it makes me nervous, especially seeing how working teachers respond in the comments! I pray that my inherent appreciation of learning and teaching will stay with me as I go into my first year. I plan on having a long career in teaching and being able to look back positively on my work. Good luck to anyone reading this that is a pre-service or new teacher. Keep positivity alive and keep your heads up!

      Reply
    • brownin329

      Those that think they will make a difference, will. Understand this, though: you will pay a heavy price for it. Sometimes, it is not enough to make a difference in someone else’s life, a difference you may not even see or hear about. You can set your mind to something, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get what you want.

      Reply
  27. Mary

    You’re article is completely on target! Next year I will begin my 30th year in this noble profession. The rewards have definitely out-weighed the negatives, but if I had started my career in the last ten years, I’m not sure I would have made it 30 years.

    In my early days I was blessed with wonderful administrators. They were tough (but supportive), professional (but caring), and above all, they could draw from a wealth of experience that only comes from years spent in their own classrooms.

    The administrators in the last ten years are sometimes tough, supportive, professional, & caring, but they lack the classroom experience. Many begin work on their administrative degrees before they have completed their first year of teaching and the college system encourages it.

    We need leaders who have classroom experience and can empathize with our struggles and share in the joy of our successes.

    Reply
  28. Jeff

    I am in my 36th year. Over the years I have taught biology, chemistry, physics, various science electives, math and social studies. I understand completely why a large number of teachers leave the field. My question is this…has anyone asked why 50% of teachers stay? What is that “one thing” that is greater than the lack of administrative support?

    Reply
    • Beth

      I stay for the kids. Title one school, 23 kindergarten students per class, little planning time, unsupportive administration & no paraprofessionals. Not to mention pitiful salary for someone who holds 2 advanced degrees. It’s the kids, simple. WE DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

      Reply
      • jr

        Please don’t let your number of degrees determine your value. I see that repeatedly in these posts. Keep Doing your best for the kids with your hearts fully engaged. BA, BS, AS, AA, PHDS….. They got us where we are but they lose their value over time and your character, capabilities and charisma become much more valued by society. ( especially kids and parents- maybe even admins) Don’t brag on your degrees please.

  29. Julie

    This is exactly why I just retired. I got tired of being the dumping ground for the administration’s pet projects, yet never given time to prepare for my own classes, amd never given credit when the projects went right, but threatened when projects looked to be late or unfinished due to me DOING MY TEACHING JOB. We teachers were also expected to teach on Saturdays–clearly illegal according to our contracts, but our jobs were threatened if we didn’t get test scores up. I hit retirement age this fall and had enough years so enough was enough. It really is administration gone amuck. Forget professional development. Give teachers time without students to get work done every day. Get administrators who have spent more than three years in the classroom to be leaders. Don’t let them be principals once they’ve gotten away from the classroom for more than five years. Have them go back and teach–the toughest classes with the discipline issues, the special education issues, the ESL issues–and the ones with all of them combined. I guarantee you would see support blossom for teachers amongst administration.

    Reply
  30. Danielle

    As a first year teacher in Lee County, I’ll tell you this: they’re right on the money. Several first year, or new-to-district teachers plan to leave next year just from my school. I know teaching is my career, and I’m very fortunate to have my job teaching advanced and gifted students, so I’ll stay until they pry me out. It’s just sad seeing and being treated like the problem in such a flawed system. End rant. Lol.

    Reply
  31. 32yearteachervetret

    Three important solutions to the current education crisis in our country:
    1. Tell politicians and other non-education “experts” to BUTT OUT and leave the true education process to the classroom teachers.
    2. Provide the appropriate funding and resources to accomplish the educational goals set by the individual, independent school districts.
    3. STOP comparing our students’ performances to those of other countries…they only use test results of a certain group of their students…we include everyone.

    Reply
  32. Lori

    Leadership can be and probably is part of the problem in many districts….but let’s take a good look at state and federal mandates and how much of that has changed in the last 10 years. NCLB, AYP, IDEIA-04, ELL compliance, PERA, CCSS, PARCC, the list goes on. And add to that…The housing market bust = less tax funding to LEAs = budget cuts = diminishing resources = workforce reduction = obstacles in making AYP = even less state and federal funding. This all amounts to the entire state of education being a complete mess. I’d say most school administrators would probably agree that working in education is more difficult and less rewarding now than it was 10 years ago. Educator college programs can’t even keep up with what the constant mandate changes expect of educators. The blame and pressure needs to be focused above district administration. State and federal lawmakers are the primary source of the mess in our country’s educational system

    Reply
    • Kwbb

      you hit the nail on the head!!
      Administration?? Sure they can be a problem but this disaster has come from our fabulous politicians and government! Bush started this mess and Obama has made it worse… Very sad- our children are paying the price

      Reply
  33. Love my career in Michigan

    I’m in my 16th year of teaching in a lower elementary public school. I love my job and I can honestly say I look forward to going to work every day. My principal takes the time to get to know the students and the teachers. He randomly visits classrooms unannounced so he knows what’s going on in each classroom, and he constantly reminds us that he wants to support our needs in the classroom. I’m not taking my job for granted for one minute, and as long as I’m in my classroom, I will make it a place where my students want to be and where they want to achieve. Prior to this career I worked for three employers in the corporate world, so I’ve seen both sides. Corporate careers and education careers have pros and cons. The beauty of America is that we have the opportunities and freedom to choose the career of our dreams.

    Reply
    • Ohio 2

      Love my job too, but it can be very challenging. I am up for the challenge. It’s all about the kids and our future.

      Reply
    • brownin329

      Good for you. No, really. I am glad to hear it. Unfortunately, that is not the reality for most of us and you can choose to do whatever you like, but that doesn’t mean you will actually be able to do it.

      Reply
  34. Renny

    I am in year 24 and seriously thinking of not renewing my license. What I miss most these days is not being able to give my kids the time they need to master the skills I’m teaching. We are required to schedule every minute of the day and God help you if the admins come in with their clipboards and you are not doing what the schedule says. We used to teach kids to love learning, to be curious and to be problem solvers. Now we teach them to take test after test. No wonder behaviors are off the wall.

    Reply
  35. Amy W

    Whenever you may become discouraged with your teaching days, think about that one teacher or those teachers who made a difference in your life, Remember that you have a special power as a “life toucher” that no one can take away from you – administrators, legislature, etc. You will not know at the time which moments or what words you said will play an important role in the life of a particular youth. But years will go by you will be part of that child’s memories and the seeds planted in your classroom will be evident, especially when those students find you on Facebook, bump into you in some store years later, or their kids walk into your classroom. That is when you really know what what you do, REALLY do, has value.
    I am a 24-year veteran teacher. I had that teacher that made such a life-changing impact on my life, and she has been my COMPASS over the years. Her name was Mrs. Reuber. She started teaching during the Great Depression. She taught in the St. Louis area during desegregation. She could always match me story for story whenever I went to see her and complained about something. Her best stories though were the ones she told as she remembered her students. My advice: Keep your focus on your students. Keep smiling, keep your sense of humor. You as a teacher are very important to someone sitting at a desk in your room.

    Reply
    • Jancy

      Agreed. I am a retread teacher who returned to my chosen vocation for all the right reasons and still plan to forge ahead. Still, I hear these righteous concerns and feel better that I am not alone in my worries. Before teaching I served in the Marine Corps and even that could be an exceptionally messed up thing at times. Yet, we forged ahead and remembered always the mission. It was the Columbine Tragedy that I watched while holding my baby girl in my arms which convinced me to go back to try to guide lives in a positive way. It has been very difficult. I have seen teachers become punching bags, but (as a social studies teacher) I try to get the big picture and to remain pure to the goal of teaching. I offer the following as relevant to the old saying that, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
      In 1711, my Harvard educated ancestor (his father was a blacksmith, mine a fork-lift driver) wrote:
      “I have served Newbury as schoolmaster eleven years and as town clerk five years and a half, and have been repaid with abuse, contempt and ingratitude. I have sent nigh as many to College as all the masters before me since the reverend and learned Parker. Those that I have bred think themselves better than their master (God make them better still), and yet they may remember the foundation of all their growing greatness was laid in the sweat of my brows. I pray that poor unacknowledging Newbury may get them that may serve them better and find thanks when they have done. If, to find a house for the school when the town had none; if, to take the scholars to my own fire when there was not wood at school, as frequently; if to give records to the poor, and record their births and deaths gratis, deserves acknowledgement, then it is my due, but hard to come by.”

      He followed with the Latin statement:
      “est aliqua ingrato meritum exprobare voluptas hoc fruar hoec de te gandia sola ferum” = Basically transcribed by me in my rusty Latin: This is a thankless job; may you alone enjoy the pleasure of these great wild ones.

      My ancestor went on to become a minister in Reading, MA, but I don’t want to leave teaching yet. Not yet. Somehow I don’t want to go out like that. It is however most ironic that I’ve been writing about my perceived plight of teachers for some years now and stated something similar: “What upsets most educators, (especially our aging veteran teachers) is that, as our crop of wisdom finally ripens, it rots on the vine because our youth are not inclined to reap the harvest and partake of the feast.”
      Every day I go in hoping to do better to succeed in my mission. Every day I see new obstacles that can in no way ever be construed to be opportunities. I have yet to meet ANY teacher who really wishes to see their students fail. I may not agree with the methods, but most people don’t go into this teaching thing hoping to hurt kids. How and why teachers have become punching bags and why respect, creativity and autonomy seems less valued is something that we as a society must examine. Somehow the current trend of snow-plow parents who live vicariously through their offspring has something to do with this. I have two kids and wish them well, but would never seek to block for them – so that only later, when I’m not around, they find a heap that they can not get over by themselves. I’d like to think that I love my kids at least as much as the helicopter and snow-plow parents. Perhaps they don’t understand the purpose of obstacle courses the same way that I do. I want my kids, my own and my students, (eventually) to be able to function without me. It’s a strange goal to desire to make ourselves useless to them, but that really is the goal. I STILL want to teach them to fish, but the waters have changed in current, depth and temperature.
      I have met many effective teachers and some who are not so effective, but what irks me to no end are those who seek to be “leaders” for the financial benefits and to rise to the top of the ladder without even spending ten years in the classroom proving themselves. Here I like the Marine model. You don’t get to be a general there unless you’ve proven your worth. My wife thought I’d make a decent principal, but I didn’t go back to it for that. Maybe that’s HOW we should choose our leaders in teaching…from those capable and proven individuals who don’t seek to be at the top of the pay scale. Funny thing is, at one time that’s how we ended up with some of our greatest presidents – either by choice or by chance, but not by those with the ulterior motive of the big payoff. Seems to me that the most respected people in this profession have always been the ones who were pure of intent and who stayed true to the mission.
      I’m likely a dinosaur now and, if they don’t get rid of me first, I WILL eventually leave the vocation. I’ve nigh on done with my penance and I’ve messed up enough lives since I’m obviously an incompetent, ignorant, and hateful individual who chose to leave a lucrative career to see my students fail in all things. Don’t you know, most teachers are devious devils seeking to ruin the world. That does not describe my teachers, but I’d sure see it as a current descriptor of teachers today in public and the press. I have a better solution. Do away with public education denied to most of my colonial and immigrant ancestors and send them ALL to the mines! I MUST laugh these days or I’d cry too much. Yes, Marines cry. They weep for the sacrifices that go unappreciated and the missions unfulfilled. Tread on goodly troops, tread on and NEVER give up the fight. The greatest lesson I learned in and out of formal schooling – WE NEVER SURRENDER! Semper Fidelis!

      Reply
      • Robert

        Amen! Semper Fi! You just have to keep focused on the mission.
        I went to college at the age of 50, intent on starting my 3rd career. After teaching all the way through high school, teaching in the Navy, teaching in half a dozen other venues, I found myself as an “on call sub” with the same classes for the entire school year. I loved it so much, despite the challenges, that I HAD to go get my teaching degree!
        Even with the challenges of an administration team who have spent NO time in the classroom, I still love doing this.
        At the end of this school year, I will be relocating from Guam (after being a resident for 25 years) to the mainland US, where I hope to find a district that will appreciate all that we teachers do to ensure the next generation succeeds in life. After 7 years, I still have students from those first “sub” classes that thank me for being so hard on them, and motivating them to learn, their 9th grade year. That is what we do this for! To see our students succeed!

  36. Ashley

    I was a high school teacher for one year in FL out of college. I didn’t have a teaching degree, or a degree in the subject I was assigned to teach, and really had no clue what I was doing. I was given a roster, a classroom, and a link to the curriculum and set loose with almost no guidance. No idea about rules, procedures, basic SOPs, etc. I wasn’t given any sort of handbook, not even an official passbook to write my students passes to the bathroom, office, etc. Anytime I messed up, an administrator would come and talk to me like I was a moron. I had no one but fellow teachers to ask questions of, and always felt bad. Even though most were very kind and helpful, they were just as busy as I was. The department head was a good teacher, but scatterbrained, unorganized and useless as a leader. The administrators were largely uninvolved except to do observations and discipline.
    In the end, even though I really enjoyed teaching and growing knowledge and watching students learn, I couldn’t handle the lack of support, the constant implication that I was unintelligent and untrustworthy and the constant observing and testing with out any useful or practical feedback or understanding of specific situations. This “one size fits all, automated education” isn’t doing our students, our teachers, or our country any favors. At this rate, the economical thing to do would just be to have all education be internet based, get rid of schools and teachers and spend the money saved on along sure all students have computers and internet access and an overseas helpline to call. It’s just terrible and impossible all around at this point.

    Reply
  37. siri

    Thanks for a succinct wrap-up of the issue. I will toss my hat in the ring as a teacher who left teaching a year ago after 11 years. At the elementary level, I never met a kid who wasn’t curious and interested in learning. And those who weren’t, I could help them become motivated becauseI had the autonomy and the latitude to lead them to the thrill of learning in a learning community that I created and was supported across the school. My classroom that was positive, flexible, had high standards and enforced the message that school is cool. We learned a lot together and had a good time. Those days are over, when I sub in my district occasionally there aren’t even classroom libraries! All the space is taken up with SMART boards and doc cameras (don’t get me going on this crazy trend of YET ANOTHER SCREEN EXPERIENCE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN!) And now that CORE is on the horizon, the students sit all day long, make no choices around their own learning and the teacher is a micro-managed robot. We are so much more than this. Further, if we factor in poverty, which is now a classroom reality, we are seeing the huge deficits that children come with; no concepts of print, hungry, both parents working to make ends meet, the screen as babysitter. Poverty impacts the classroom in huge ways and certainly, I was doing almost as much parenting as teaching. Financially able parents are taking their kids to private schools and public schools are catch basins for the poor where the lowest common education expectation is the denominator that drives the learning environment and opportunities for excellence are abandoned. I am an older person and a product of public education back in the day. I was very smart and could take advantage of accelerated programs at school, our neighbor Kirk, was less able and he had terrific education opportunities at the same school. It was a blue collar town that always passed its levies and the community esteemed education. I have a liberal arts degree, speak a couple languages, am a classically trained cellist and got a terrific public education. Don’t tell me it can’t be done, but it is a matter of priorities. If you look at the statistics on child poverty, you will see that children are NOT a priority in this country and generally, our country doesn’t esteem education; it is about money and getting. I don’t think there has been a definition of the educated American child since John Dewey. What should the modern educated child should look like? Believe me, to participate in the global world, that definition will include a skill set is of the higher order, sort and sift skills, synthetic abilities and imagination.
    Good luck with that in the current school setting! I miss it terribly, I was really good at it, but I am long gone, it was too heartbreaking and infuriating.

    Reply
  38. Amy Lenord

    Thanks for posting this. It is an important critique of educational leadership that most people don’t know about outside of a school. I found it inspired me to blog about a related issue, so I hope you don’t mind my referencing your post here: http://bit.ly/1BrrHme

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  39. Teach012087

    What will the US Education system do if all the teachers just struck? Seriously, are they going to fire all teachers in this country and replace them? If so, with who? There is no one in their right mind who would tolerate this abuse except hardworking, passionate people like teachers. If no one else cares, we need to stop acting like pawns for the greater good and say “to hell with them.”

    Reply
    • John

      We should all strike! Seriously! Being treated like a slave with little self worth, and unconcerned administration keeping unruly students at bay in the classrooms. We cannot change admin, school board, and government without one clear voice. Our jobs are too difficult. We carry all the accountability and stress, yet lost the freedom to successfully teach with all the distractions of mediocre p.d’s, loss of funding, increasing class sizes, etc. I have 35 in each class. Sure I will have an occasional student who acts up enough to get sent to a buddy room followed with cuss words, threats, and door slamming. Part of the game I guess. Would be nice if elementary were more like highschool or college. Failing would mean retaking. This is a practice they still use in pretty much any other country except ours. Why are kids allowed to fail and still graduate? To me it’s not about increasing graduation rates, it’s more about discouraging bad behavior and showing kids that there are heavy consequences when learning is not valued, in this case repeating grades. The buck stops at the teacher, then we need to stand together in one clear voice. Stop all the excuses and complaining and do something about it. I propose a nationwide strike. Teachers past, present, and future are all welcome.

      Reply
  40. Aly

    Your solutions sound great and relatively simple. The hard thing is it’s easier said than done. There are too many politics involved in education and a one size fits all approach won’t even begin to fix it. Great article, nonetheless.

    Reply
  41. Leia

    Your article sums up why I quit teaching after one year and have no interest in going back. Having no support from leadership and no ability to enforce effective discipline in the classroom left me feeling like a failure constantly.

    Reply
  42. Sandra

    I have always heard the horror stories and had people tell me ” don’t go into teaching, you’re young go back and change your major”. I love teaching, but after subbing for a year and finally getting a part time placement, at an okay school, I’ve been trying to stay there because the mangment of this school and the support is amazing. And I completely believe it’s the principal, if I have to I’ll stay in this job another year just to get a job at this school because of her!!

    Reply
  43. CD

    I am a sixth year teacher who has experienced circumstances in education that has made me into a teacher I never thought I would be. I began teaching in a low income- high poverty district my first two years teaching, where survival seemed more important than teaching. Drugs, violence, gangs, weapons, and assault all happened in my sixth grade classroom and I didn’t think I would be able to make it. After a traumatic car accident on my way to school one day, I finished my first year teaching in March. I moved back home to rehabilitate but also knew that I would not get credit for my first year teaching because I had not earned that amount of time as signed per my contract. I received a phone call from my district superintendent informing me that my first year was granted because my principal and the parents of my students went to the school board and fought for my first year. I went back and taught another year, which I began in a wheel chair.

    Looking back, now five years later, I am in a different district, a different county, different grade level, but am experiencing some of the things the author of the article describes. Why didn’t I quit? Why didn’t I leave before ending my five years or before starting my sixth?

    I tell myself everyday to “Live each day” and I go in my classroom with my fith graders and do the best I can with them, knowing I am the best techer that I can be. Yes, I understand that there are odds against me and yes, I get angry and frustrated and think about quitting. No, I don’t care it what I am writing is grammatically sound, but the purpose of all if this is to say go in as your best. Leave knowing you were your best. Come back being better than you were yesterday. Of all the odds that we face everyday as the intelligent, creative, multitallented individuals that we are, all we can do is be who we are and control what we can. I have completed my M.S. in Leadership and strive to be the administrator that changes the aspect of education that helps to keep teachers like us, the ones who see the issues and strive for change around.

    Good luck and keep the inspiration alive.

    Reply
  44. Lynn C

    I just retired midyear. I had a two year break and returned to the classroom to finish up my career. I could no longer find a balance in my life. The job consumed all of me and living with the stress of accountability of getting kids to achieve on standardized testing at any cost wore me out. Administration say they care, but they don’t. Just get the job done and get the results. Hmmm 60 students of 9-10 year olds a day and 90 minutes a day to get achievement in reading and writing to par for a passing Raye of 90%. That is what I was given as the expectation when I started school. Not to include the hours of paperwork to keep up with for SPED and RTI. My physical workday started when I left my house at 6:30 am. Tutoring at 7:15. Classes at 7:35 until 3:15. Planning time, well there was always a meeting. Lunch, stay with the students to get them through the lunch line, so perhaps 15 minutes. Duty after school. Get back to my room at 3:45. Day is over. No, I forgot now it is time to contact parents, plan, grade papers, do paperwork. Do you really think I was done with my day? Weekends? No that was spent trying to complete all that couldn’t get done during the week. So when given a choice, would you do this?

    Reply
  45. Amy

    One of the biggest complaints I have is that parents aren’t held accountable for ANYTHING!!!!

    Reply
  46. Kirk Frederick

    I had read as much as I could handle reading – around 30 responses. I grew tired of the bashing and arguing. I can’t imagine that education is aimed at squabbling. I agree that employees should be treated fairly. I also believe that hard work deserves good compensation which earns being treated fairly – no matter what the occupation or title – “teacher” to “grocery store manager.” Some of you really need to get off of your pedestals. If you think there are lesser beings to compare yourselves, you really should look in the mirror again.

    Considering hard work does not always lead to success, I must point out the fact we (in general) are NOT ranking high in world education. I have yet to witness anyone mentioning what successful countries are doing. I wonder if these other countries are getting the ‘perks’ offered in the United States. I’ll have to do some more research.

    A lot of the reason teachers are getting scrutinized is because of our low rank in world education. We have people living in areas where school taxes have driven them out of their homes – forcing them sell and move. This happened to a neighbor down the street where the house left and right of them are owned by two teachers – they also own a 27 acre hobby farm.

    No, not all teachers have these assets and no not all schools are the problem. Some administration is very well established where teachers are treated fairly and compensated well. Yes there is still griping, but they do manage to compartmentalize their way into preforming their jobs quite adequately.

    The one thing I’ve noticed that seems most common among all these successful teachers is their ability to avoid the BS and do their job. They look for ways to improve their art. Most of all, they prove (show and demonstrate) that they care for their students without prejudice. These people are loved, not ridiculed, offered long-term positions with growth – similar to any other occupation. Do well first and then be compensated – that is how it works in the real adult world.

    Perhaps it is simply time to grow up and do what works. Take a look around, get out of your box and egotistical selves. Improve on what you say you love to do. Turn-over at 50% merely illustrates how many go into the occupation with a poor outlook/expectation to begin with. If they simply looked at the challenges before jumping feet first (or rather head first) they would avoid making teachers look like crap when they fail and then try to blame everyone else. Just as stupid – we let them do it.

    Good luck – I know my kid is going to need it.

    Reply
    • Russell

      I lasted 40 years teaching High School Math in a small Kansas school. I loved it, for 35 years, until 2 things killed my desire to continue. Those things were a new principal and No Child Left Behind (aka No Child Allowed to Excel). During my annual evaluation I was asked “what are you doing to prepare your students for the State Competency Tests?” I replied “I’m teaching my subject the best I know how.” I thought the principal was going to explode at this answer because I wasn’t setting aside 20 minutes during each class to “teach to the test.” Let it be known that the classes I was teaching were Advanced Algebra, College Algebra, College Trig and AP Calculus. These students could pass the test with their eyes closed and no calculators, but he still wanted me to waste 20 min each day (60 hours per year) because he was obsessed with HIS school being a “School of Excellence.” The next 4 years were hell with ‘informal’ evaluations and extra required lesson plans. Since I retired, he is on his 5th math teacher in 8 years. Wonder why?

      Reply
    • ah1960

      Here we go: yet another person who thinks educators aren’t part of the “real world” or “adult world.” News flash: the people who choose to read and respond to articles such as this may not statistically represent the bulk of the profession. That being said, I still identify with and have compassion for every person who has responded and told their stories. This IS a difficult profession, and it IS becoming more difficult. I KNOW because I am part of it. You ASSUME that the respondents are whiners who refuse to improve themselves. You ASSUME that other countries have superior educational systems and outcomes. You ASSUME this is true because of incompetent or whiny teachers. You have drunk the Kool-Aid. You have decided not to bother understanding the issues, and you have decided to BLAME instead. Speaking of egotism, you PRESUME to give life advice to an entire population who didn’t ASK for it. You are part of the problem.

      Reply
      • brownin329

        ah1960: Here Here! I couldn’t agree with you more. If people really knew what teachers go through to really do the work of making sure their children did their very best, they wouldn’t call us “whiners.”

  47. Piper Bayard

    Both of my parents were teachers. That was back in the day, when students either behaved or got booted out, and, for the most part, parents and teachers worked together on behalf of the kids. I was shocked when my own kids went to school. I expected the same partnership with teachers and administrators who had the students’ best interests at heart. Ha!

    Instead I found that education has become a massive, for-profit industry that exists for its own perpetuation. Superfluous bureaucrats are eager to slap any label on as many kids as they can, regardless of whether it’s accurate, because labels (Special Ed, TAG, etc.) justify the bureaucrats’ own existence and bring in the bucks. The IB magnet programs never tell the kids that the “year of college credit” their IB diploma is worth only counts for elective credits at most colleges. Honesty would never get the kids to sign up or bring in the money to the schools. Many tenured teachers who hate their jobs and the kids dish out wasted years to the students while they count down to their retirement. And standardized tests with their inherent conflicts of interest rule it all, dictating curriculum, wasting class hours, and eating up billions while taxpayers are asked at each election to cough up higher taxes for basic building maintenance and to hire new teachers.

    You don’t mention this in your article, and perhaps this is another form of leadership failure, but I suspect that any new teacher who actually cares about kids and wants to teach would be quickly squashed in a system that no longer serves the students–a multi-billion dollar industry thats first priority is perpetuating its own existence.

    Reply
  48. Glenda

    Yes, yes, to the above and Stop spending 38% of the education budget on administration and pay teachers instead!!!!

    Reply
  49. newbie

    This is my first year teaching, and have been thrust into the mold of being thrown into an alternative middle school – in the city. Now, when my days are good, they are so uplifting and I feel on top of the world. However, sometimes I get spit on, I get things thrown at me, I get shoved, threatened on a daily basis. Materials that I have paid for with my non-existent bank account (100k in the red just to get here!) broken, stolen, or in the most amusing cases hidden for weeks or months before I find them. I have no classroom, no budget. I am determined to stick with this because I truly do feel it is my calling. I LOVE my administration (just one principal) and my superintendent was also very supportive in helping me accumulate materials as an art teacher, which is more expensive than anyone would think – unless you are an art teacher. My department chair has been a wonderful advocate as well. Despite all of this, some days I get nothing done. Literally nothing in my five blocks of teaching. Let me say that again, nothing. There is nothing I can do about it. When I call home I might get an intoxicated parent, a number that doesn’t work, “That’s how (s)he is at home too”, or literally vulgarly verbally assaulted. I’m at a loss. I love these students, as challenging as they may be, but I can’t teach them in a way that is helpful TO THEM because there are stipulations saying I have to do things a certain way. I’m not ready to leave, but like many others I don’t sleep, when I do I dream of work. I don’t eat, really. I’ve lost 10 lbs since September. I have constant anxiety that I’m not doing enough, but I don’t even know where to begin doing that. I actually disagree in regards to the lack of support. I have plenty of support. I find a very depressing, ongoing decline in human decency and accountability to be the culprit.

    Reply
    • brownin329

      Newbie: “I find a very depressing, ongoing decline in human decency and accountability to be the culprit.” I agree with that statement. I, on the other hand, do not have support, mostly because of the last statement you made (in quotes above).

      Reply
  50. Christina USA

    I teach high school. I understand all that is being said. But I still love teaching after nine years and I don’t want to do anything but teach. I hate the red tape, standardize testing and discipline problems. But at the core is teaching. I make that primary. I am fortunate that my high school principal is the best and supportive. Of course, we still have to prep for testing, but how we do it is up to us. So we can set up and manage our classrooms as we see fit to accomplish the goal. I taught elementary for 5 years, middle school for 2 years, and now in high school. I think I will stay in high school but I am determined not to let the kids, parents or system defeat me and take my passion away. I do have bad days here and there. But not everyday and the good more than out-weighs the bad for me. It’s attitude. A large part of my endurance comes from my attitude. I can’t speak for others and nor do I want to. But if you love to teach, then do what you have to do to keep doing it. We need teachers like we need air to breathe. We need good ones. We have to be tough and sometimes, we take a beating. But without teachers, good ones, what would really happen to our children?

    Reply
  51. Liz

    I am in my 27th year of teaching high school special education. i have 3 more before I can retire. I love my students, but hate all the things that now come with “teaching.” We have become statisticians, punching bags, and report writers, not much teaching going on anymore. We have become public enemy number one, and all that is wrong with society. The public thinks we work 6 hours a day, have off for 3 months, and make too MUCH money. They also think we pay nothing for benefits and our pensions. I am not sick of the students and can even handle the administration, but the continual public beatings I can no longer take. I agree with the article that lack of leadership hurts us greatly, but for me it is the public’s view that frustrates me the most.

    Reply
  52. Chas

    This is my last year teaching after more than 10 years I have had it. This article is spot on.

    Reply
  53. Thom

    My recommendation to U.S. teachers: Don’t leave teaching. Leave the U.S.! Best decision I ever made. Much of the rest of the world values educators far more.

    Reply
  54. DauntedSpedTeach

    This article sung to my heart. After 2 years of teaching Elementary (K-6) SpEd and having a passion for the SpEd community I said goodbye to the profession. I started off as a long term sub and had a semi supportive director, that is until she became the HS principal as well as maintaining the SpEd (El and HS) director position the following (my first year contracted) year. That year, we also had admin changes at the elementary level which made matters worse.

    So, lack of director leadership due to increased responsibility and a new principal who had no idea about SpEd policy… [oh, the director was also my mentor, and I never saw her except for (some) IEP meetings, couldn’t even get a timely response to emails] I was drowning and there was no one to support me.

    I needed help with so much that I didn’t get experience with during my position as SpEd long term sub and I could never get time with the one person who should have been there to help me.

    I was told my first contract year that my second year would be my make or break year. I was assigned a new mentor (the high school SpEd teacher) and I thought that it would be better. The HS SpEd teacher did her best to help me, gave me great ideas to help my students during times when my aide or I was teaching small group/ 1-1 and was unavailable to them immediately. When the principal came in and saw what they were doing while not engaged with my aide or myself, she remarked that I should have them do things with technology (I only had 3 ipads and 4 computers, and they were always in use on a rotational basis, besides I would never want my students to get on the computer without express directives) What I had were “skill reinforcement” books that the students were to get when they came in and work on those until someone was available to work with them. On top of all that, not a single teacher… not one single gen-ed teacher followed the schedule for sending students. So, I was always stressed about them getting too many minutes in my classroom (LRE). I tried to talk to the teachers and then the principal about this but, it only tended to make things worse. I was not given a contract for my second year, but instead of allowing them to end my employment, I resigned instead.

    I was stressed every day. I had lesson plans, grades, behavior problems (one that took nearly half a school year to get to where he wasn’t needing 1-1 intervention from 8am-3pm), IEP’s, IEP meetings, Evaluations, Re-evals, testing, SpEd end of year state testing (for the kiddos who couldn’t take the reg state test), the regular State test, extended school year data collections, daily data collection, quarterly reports, progress reports, report cards, teaching my students how to use educational software that closely resembled the computerized standardized test that was implemented this school year for the regular state test as well as the SpEd one too, being made felt like I was less than a teacher because I was a SpEd teacher (aka, babysitter), no support from admin, no time to spend with my family, the required school functions that generally left me staying at the school until after the function ended because I lived too far away to go home beforehand, being evaluated ONLY by my Elementary Principal (who had NO SpEd experience), etc. left me a complete and utter wreck. On top of all that, and least important (I guess, because others in my school seemed to think this was important to them, but not so important for me) maybe 10 minutes a day for planning except on duty days (2 days) or meeting days, then I got nothing. Those 10 minutes I still had a few students in my classroom, but I was able to do what I needed to do, due to my aide. All other teachers in my district had 50 minutes, except duty days… must have been nice. My consolation prize according to the principal “Well, at least you don’t have to do holiday parties.” WHAT?!?! I would do parties for the teachers if I could have 50 min/day 2 days/week of no-student planning time like they had!

    Anyhow, I digress.

    I did not apply for any work this past year because I needed time to decompress. My poor husband is now stressed because of the lack of income that I helped provide. I don’t even know where to go from here. Honestly, the Special needs community IS where my heart lies. I couldn’t imagine working with any other group of people. I’ll probably find a job working as an aide in a sheltered workshop or something, because at least then I know I would be appreciated. How do I know? Because that is what I did before I decided to go to college and get a degree in Special Education. Sadly, the pay is just above minimum wage… Oh wait, so is teacher’s pay. (which is NOT why I got into education)

    To the grammar Nazis: I know there are a plethora of grammatical mistakes in my post. It is 7am and I have yet to go to sleep. I have insomnia that I blame on all the years (college included) that I had to stay up all night to finish work. However, after about 3am my brain becomes a mush ball of jumbled up thoughts and I can barely form a coherent sentence. So, please do pick apart my comment. 😛

    Everyone else, I really hope all that I wrote about my experience made sense. I think I might go take a nap until noon.

    Reply
  55. DauntedSpedTeach

    -I noticed a time-typo… I meant I was not given a contract for my 3rd year, not 2nd year.

    Reply
      • DauntedSpedTeach

        Yes, just click on my picture and it will take you to the gravatar profile, my public email is listed there.

  56. Ryan

    I am not a teacher, nor do I work in the education field. I do have friends that work as educators at various levels, and I just wanted to say my hat is off to all of you for what you do! I wish you all heard that more often!

    Reply
  57. Wife and mother of teacher

    Try teaching in Wisconsin with Scott Walker as Governor. He is no friend to education.

    Reply
  58. Scott

    I am not an educator or school administrator myself, but I am married to a brilliant woman who has worked hard to get promoted from her teaching position to a position as an Assistant Principal at her Middle School. For that reason, I personally find it offensive that the author of this “research” article has lumped the on-site admin team in as part of the problem, making it sound as though if everyone would just get out of the poor teachers way, they could fix all the problems. The author fails to recognize that the on-site admin team are the only running interference for the teaching staff with the central admin office politicos, angry parents, and the chronically disengaged students. Take a moment to step back, look with a more mature eye at the situation, and realize that the jacked up mess the teachers and admin have to try to “manage” has been dictated to them by mis-informed politicians at both the local and national levels. A central plank of the Republican party is dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. public school system via charter schools, who don’t have to take “all” the kids or meet the same testing requirements, and a system of vouchers that will only benefit the wealthy by giving them back some of their precious tax money that they have to waste on paying for the little people’s kids to go to public school. Grow up a little, and take a more mature look at what you would actually have to do to “fix” what’s wrong. Your concise 5-step program is very short-sighted…

    Reply
    • LabRat9882

      You’re completely misreading the point. The teachers polled cited a LACK of administrative support. Administration includes everyone who has a position above the level of regular classroom teacher, whether they be principals, district officials, curriculum specialists, department chairs, and yes, on-site assistant principals. As long as your wife is doing everything in her power to truly advocate for what’s in the best interests of her classroom teachers and their students, then she is not part of the problem. Unfortunately, even some of the best administrators find their hands tied by bad district, state, and/or federal policies or even someone else’s personal agenda, such as the building principal or superintendent. Most teachers realize and recognize when their admins are making a genuine effort to be supportive but have their own necks in the noose of someone else’s policies; we take exception, however, to those who “drink the Kool-aid” and reinforce the bad policies that hurt us and ultimately our students by telling us that these bad ideas are in our best interests, all in the name of protecting their own cushy salaries. THAT is the problem I’ve seen with administrators. I sincerely hope that your wife can try to avoid falling into that trap and wish her all the best. I would refer you to read the response by “CC” above if you want to offer your wife some tangible suggestions for how to be the type of administrator who helps rather than hurts.

      Oh, and just a little forum tip, try to avoid telling others to “grow up” and “take a more mature look” when you yourself have no experience in the classroom if you want to be taken seriously. That, coupled with your needless partisan politicizing, makes your response seem like a temper tantrum.

      Reply
  59. Writer Of

    I am new to this–the writing replies and the education field as a whole. I found this article fairly comforting to know I am not alone in this battle, but my question remains. What do we do about this? I admire the insight and critique of the education system, and I have not read the entire list of replies, though I did read a large amount. However, I am still at my wits end as to what to do in moving forward. I have only been teaching for a couple of years and I love my students and the thought of helping them to learn and grow into freethinking, contributing members of society, all with differing roles and contributions. However, my romanticized view of the education system and the administration that ‘supports’ it has been crippled with the pains of neglect and abuse.
    I shout out for help and am open to your suggestions.

    Reply
    • ah1960

      Be subversive. Teach what you know is important. Try to find out how much of the useless crap you actually have to do, and how much you can safely ignore. Keep true to your students. Be kind to colleagues and parents and students. Keep trying new things. Keep yourself interested in learning. Read. Have a sense of humor in your classes. Make their day. Find supportive friends and colleagues. Ignore as much negativity as you can.

      Reply
  60. Carmen

    After 47 years in education (I started teaching when I was 18) I am done! I could write a book on how education has changed and not for the better! I love my students and I love to teach, I will privately tutor another three years because I want to hit 50 years in education, but it will not be under any school administration! Educational pay is a joke, administration never gives teachers a pat on the back and say your doing a great job! Teachers are over worked and under pay! I teach 95 students a week only have one day I can have lunch at a regular lunch time; the rest of the week I have to eat at 2:45 almost right before I let out of school. Why you most ask yourself, well because I can not pull them out of PE, music, art and needless to say lunch! In order to fit in these many students I have to work around all other classes! Parents begged me not to go, kids are not happy I will not be there next year, but since administration doesn’t get more help, I have decided it’s time to move on and teach on my own! If I had the money to open up a private school my teachers would be treated with respect and they would be # one in my book, because a happy teacher means, happy students and happy students mean happy parents and people learn better when they are happy!

    Reply
    • Sam

      Oh… and in relation to the article… None of the first year teachers returned from last year under this principal’s “leadership”. I blame the county for accepting her and giving her a job when she was blackballed from another county. I have a keen sense she has more inappropriate friendships, besides just the football coach. Oh! And OUR FOOTBALL TEAM MADE IT FURTHER THAN THEY EVER HAVE IN MANY YEARS. Their last game they lost at regionals, they started a fight with the other team. Classy. That’s the type of behavior incompetent leadership fosters. SMH

      Reply
      • Sam

        I accidentally attached this to someone else’s comment… sorry!

  61. Sam

    After 14 years of teaching, I FINALLY found my true calling in education. I started the swim team at a minority school after over 10 years of not having one. I am proud to say I coached the first minority swim team to ever win a swim meet in Orange County history! I also taught AP Art History – successfully. I have a Master’s Degree in Ed Leadership from Stetson University and am a National Board Certified Teacher with certification in Fine Arts and Social Sciences. Orange County in their infinite wisdom, replaced a principal who was making positive changes in my school (he was the cause for the school going from a “F” to a “C” school) with a principal who was blackballed from Citrus County for having an inappropriate relationship with the football coach there. She decided she didn’t like me because I spoke up when administration let all the kids out of class to go see the rap group “The Rejects” perform in an impromptu assembly. Also, I knew she was having an inappropriate relationship with our football coach here in Orange County because the assistant football coach was my tenant and I was privy to some information because of that fact. Good teachers who know too much and speak up are given “involuntary transfer” paperwork. The involuntary transfer is the most abused power used by principals in OCPS. Also, principals are allowed to file grievances against teachers over the summer (she turned me in for not coming to school the following day after I was served my transfer papers – I was in bed crying because I had taught some of these kids since they were in kindergarten) but teachers are not allowed to file grievances against principals over the summer. I had over 50 kids on my swim team and over 40 of them quit after they found out I was not going to be the coach. There is no AP Art History class at the school anymore. I quit the teaching profession all together after the abuses I endured in a system that cares more for the fragile egos of incompetent administrators than the achievement of students. This is why education in FL is hopeless.

    Reply
  62. Once A. Teacher

    Simply put- 25 years then RAN FOR MY LIFE! Administrators too busy making it easier for their favorites- practicing nepotism; KEEPING teachers that they knew physically and emotionally abused students to avoid the red tape; keeping teachers that were useless and made errors in info to students regularly because not allowing them to stay would be a reflection on themselves and who they hired. They never stood up for their teachers, coming at some like vultures, if there was a flagrant comment made about them. Did not support teachers with student disciplinary issues. Horrible! I loved teaching, but the horrible administration was what made me ill , cry every night, and want to run away. Thank god I was able to retire earlier…. Signed, A Great Educator (special Ed students)

    Reply
  63. Oldugly

    It hurts my heart to read most of these comments. I am NOT a teacher. I have “subbed” for nearly 13 years K-12 in one school. My path has been from one room country schools, high school, the military, to business (MBA), to keeping out from under my wife’s feet while in retirement. (I have, as an audit student, completed the teacher education program at a respected university.) What I see regularly is teachers in over loaded classrooms doing (in most cases) their best to meet standards that have little or no basis in reality. The are trying hard to teach subjects that have little or no practical use for many professions to students who have no (zero, none, nada) interest in them. In many cases about all they can do is teach to a standardized test.
    In an earlier comment I read that teachers who do not perform should be terminated the same way non-performers are in the business world. One problem with that is that teachers have no control over the raw materials they are given. They may be given students who have been allowed to advance without having basic skills and then expected to bring these students up to an artificially high standard in an unreasonably short time. A virtually impossible task. (Try to teach division to a student who is unable to multiply, If that doesn’t frustrate you, you are either a saint or someone who doesn’t care.) I don’t remember any business that fired workers for failure to turn substandard materials into prime finished products.
    Most teachers that I have known could bring these students up to an acceptable level IF (big if) the teacher had support from a knowledgeable and understanding leader. Unfortunately these same leaders, many of whom fought the same class room battles, are also held to an unreasonably high standard.
    What is the solution? I wish I had one. I do believe that no local, state, or national education program should be shoved down teacher’s throats by people who have not spent at least ten successful years in a classroom. That each and every one of them should, as a condition of continued employment, be made to spend at least one semester in a class room every five years. Will that happen? Of course not. Why would they want to give up a cushy job to go back and teach under the rules they have forced on everyone else. End of rant, you will now be returned to your regularly scheduled programs.

    Reply
  64. Wordsofwisdom

    The thing is that there is a concentrated effort by policy makers to churn out teachers and make them as disposable as possible so they don’t have to pay higher wages and retirement benefits to the vets, or deal with the unions. The people reforming education want to make it into a temporary job with perpetual series of cheap 1 year contracts where teachers become more and more interchangeable. That’s a big part of what’s really behind the “standardized” agenda and all the computer based stuff.

    The argument goes like this: American education sucks, so we need to micromanage teachers and use all kinds of new technology to catch up to the rest of the world, which are pushed by “nonprofit, grassroots organizations.”

    What you’re not told is that this agenda is that much of it is funded by the people who stand to make a lot of money from pillaging the public education budget to sell that technology, those testing programs, and open Charter schools to make a buck. By reducing the role of teachers to “worksheet and computer program facilitator,” teachers become easily replaceable, allowing for cost cutting on personnel.

    So all the churning of employees is intentional, despite all the public hand wringing over it.. You make the job suck so badly, with increased pressures and decreased pay (through wage freezes, mandatory retirement contributions, insurance cuts, etc.) that people are spit out every few years to be filled by the next beginner making a beginner wage that saves the district thousands a year in personnel costs. Reform the certification process due to made up “shortages” of teachers to further flood the market and depress wages and you have a recipe for a profession that’s becoming only a small step above call center operative in prestige, pay, benefits, and work environment.

    Oh, and yes, educational administration at all levels, particularly at the state and federal levels, is godawful, out of touch, and beyond worthless due to this political environment

    Reply
    • brownin329

      WordsofWisdom: You’ve got it!

      I have been in preschool special education since 2008. It is like walking through the fourth portal of hell.

      But I knew what I was getting into and walked right in! In 2008 I worked for a head start in NJ with a bunch of very polished, but very unprofessional people. Anytime a director refers to students as “consumers,” and then tells the teachers in in-service that if a problem arises between the consumer and the teacher, the teacher doesn’t have a leg to stand on, you know exactly where the problem lies: greed.

      Special education is the worst. Probably as bad as teaching public school K-12, and maybe worse! I am in a situation right now where I have a 3.5 autistic (PDD) student enrolled in a class of 20 kids in a head start program (one of my students). He is bouncing off the wall because he is overstimulated and can’t handle transitions. Do you know that before I started working with him, no one at the school made a move to help the parent transition the child to a smaller, therapeutic setting? Do you know why? The school gets paid more money for enrolled children with disabilities. No one wants to let him go, and the only reason the parent wouldn’t budge is because the staff wasn’t nice to her. Meanwhile, the child tears up the classroom, attacks the teachers (including me) and wets himself every day. No behavior management plan will work for this little guy in this setting and my agency has been absolutely no help. Why? Greed. They get paid a lot, too. I’m lucky I make what I make but I pay a big price.

      He is not the only student in the class with special needs. The school is very small. There is no space to work one-to-one with the children and no therapy rooms; the school is not made for children like this but they keep admitting them. Thankfully, the parent has begun to see things my way and we’re trying to get him into a smaller setting now, but every day I still try to work with him as best as I can because my agency won’t discharge him until the parent agrees to put him in a different setting. I am still recovering from scratches and the bruises and God knows what’s in the spit. And guess what? In almost 7 years, he is not my worst student! I feel bad, because I know he is suffering, and everyone else is, too.

      I have half a mind to fire off a scathing report to the chancellor of education in NYS, but I know nothing will be done. What to do..what to do?

      Reply
  65. English Teacher

    I believe most administrators are teachers who couldn’t handle the classroom, so they went back to school to get an administrative degree. Not the best qualifications for leadership!

    Reply
  66. A Science Teacher

    The same happens in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, education is highly linked to politics, the governor is the one who choses the Secretary of Education and he, the rest of his crew. It has been a battle between public school teachers and the Secretary of Education. Most of the time, we need to change every single thing on how to teacher and have new different goals with each new political parties. We have even had three Secretaries of Education in one quarter. Leadership is the one to blame.

    Reply
  67. JUDY

    I THINK PRIVATE SCHOOLS ARE THE WAY TO GO,HERE IN OHIO MOST OF THE CATHOLIC SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN SHUT DOWN,I THINK IF A TEACHER CAN SUB ,THAT IS MUCH BETTER THAN BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE RED TAPE THAT IS INVOLVED WITH A FULL TIME POSITION.I HAVE A FRIEND WHO IS A SUB,THEY CALL HIM EVERY DAY TO SUB,HE CAN TURN IT DOWN IF HE LIKES AND NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH ALL THE RED TAPE FULL TIME TEACHERS ARE DEALING WITH AND HE DOES NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT A POSITION NEXT YEAR. I HAVE A FEMALE FRIEND,WHO HAS BEEN MOVED TO 4 DIFFERENT SCHOOLS IN 4 YEARS,AND SHE GETS ALL WORRIED WHEATHER THEY WILL CUT HER POSITION AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS HERE IN OHIO,TURNING SCHOOLS INTO CHARTER SCHOOLS,BUT IS THAT THE ANSWER? I FEEL THAT ALL TEACHERS MUST TAKE A STAND AND BAND TOGATHER TO STOP ALL THE RED TAPE AND UNFAIR RULES AND REGULATIONS THAT THEY HAVE TO DEAL WITH TO SAVE THEIR JOBS.WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO RULERS ACROSS THE NUCKLES OR THE WOODEN PADDLE THAT WAS USED IN SCHOOL,I REMEMBER THE KIDS WERE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS THEN AND LISTEN WHEN THE TEACHERS TALKED AND HAD THEIR HOME WORK DONE,THE WORD EXSPELL MADE THEM SIT UP AND LISTEN,PARENTS GAVE THEIR APPROVAL THEN TO CORRECT THEIR CHILDREN ,NOW THEY DON’T CARE IF THEIR KIDS GO TO SCHOOL OR NOT .I WONDER WHAT THE RATIO WAS OF COLLEGE GRADUATES THEN AS COMPARED TO TODAYS STUDENTS. JUST SAYING TEACHERS NEED MORE SUPPORT FROM SCHOOL THEIR SUPERIORS AND MORE FREEDOM TO MAKE DECISIONS.

    THANK YOU;

    JC

    Reply
  68. Ivette

    US Department of Education needs student discipline systems to fight against bullying. Stressful situations and conflicts in schools affect the whole environment.

    Reply
  69. Ivette

    Excellent article and excellent initiative to ask questions directly to teacher. Bravo!

    Reply
  70. dianne

    It’s not just new teachers I left after 20 years. I went from $65,000 a year to $13,000 and I couldn’t be happier. Many of my fellow teachers would leave if they could afford it.

    Reply
  71. Bob

    I don’t agree with the comment “lack of support by leadership”. “lack of support” is very true. “by leadership” is false, as there is very little true leadership at the top.

    Reply
  72. Steve

    Let’s hit two birds with one stone. All administrators should be periodically assigned and/or on call for substituting throughout their district. In many districts it merely takes a warm body to qualify. Think what these “leaders” could do! Only by returning to the front lines will they understand the problems that exist. This would help where there is a shortage of subs and also make the need for better support and pay obvious.

    Reply
  73. Dave

    This has more facets to this but leadership is the problem not only in the classroom but in the country as well. However, I ask this question… Have we not done this to ourselves? Parents, children, co-workers and etc. are each out to get each other. Instead of doing your job you have to “document” everything. Why because too many people have opinions with no solution. Not to mention, pay for educators in most states is ridiculous. Why would anyone want to teach someone who has poor manners? Why would anyone want to teach someone’s child who has poor manners, and why would anyone want to work with people who have poor manners. With no consideration for the person they work with and work for?

    Reply
  74. Lynne

    I’ve been teaching for 18 years, and if I could, I would leave the profession tomorrow. I love my students, and I love teaching, but unfortunately, I can’t teach anymore. It’s all about test scores these days. The apathy among students is rampant. Many students never do their homework, they don’t study, and they won’t pay attention in class, yet at the end of the year, part of my evaluation is dependent upon their scores. How is that fair? I work my butt off. If we could go back to what school was when I was a student, maybe students would actually enjoy learning again. Learning how to pass a test isn’t fun. Teachers need more support, more resources, and more autonomy to effectively engage and instruct students. Politicians need to GET OUT OF THE CLASSROOMS and allow the real professionals to do our jobs.

    Reply
  75. heavyheart

    This article makes me sad. I am in my 25th year of education, and both of my parents were teachers. I grew up with the understanding that teachers do not make a lot of money and they work countless hours outside of the classroom. I grew up knowing that teaching was hard. I taught junior high math and science for nine years. Some kids were a joy, some were not so much. Many parents would get upset with me because their child didn’t earn the grade they wanted. But some would come in to shake my hand and thank me for challenging their child to reach his potential. Teaching was hard. But I loved it. I went into administration because I thought I could make a bigger difference. I became a dean and enjoyed that job for seven years before becoming a principal. My role was discipline and supervising the teachers on my grade level team. My mindset was and still is, if you don’t feed the teachers, they’ll eat the kids. My mission was to make teachers’ lives easier so they could focus on instruction, and ultimately benefit the children. At the same time, I held high expectations for teachers to continuously refine and improve their pedagogy, classroom management and relationships with the children. As educators, we must continually learn ourselves.

    When I became a principal, I had the privilege of serving at a pre-k building. The children were an absolute delight! Since discipline was not really an issue at that age, I was able to spend most of my time in classrooms. I always left written feedback for teachers in which I cited the good practices I observed and one suggestion. I now serve as an elementary school principal – by far the most difficult position of my career. A self-imposed standard I have always held is that when children are present, my place is in the classrooms. So that means all of the administrative seatwork must be done before and after school. It’s a much heavier load than the lesson planning and paper grading I did as a teacher – and I spent every night and weekend lesson planning and grading papers. I get to work at 6:30 am every day and work until 10:00 pm or later and I work most of the weekends. In between, I raised my children and now my grandchildren. I am blessed with an assistant principal, but many principals are not. Yes, the pay is better, but I work all summer and the stress is far greater. I am not responsible for 30 children, but 675. I have to be an expert in every subject area at six different developmental levels. Everything on the teachers’ plates is on my plate, multiplied by 31 classrooms. Everything is my responsibility. I feel like I am actually spinning the plates and one or two are crashing at any given moment. But I don’t have a union or tenure. I can be removed at any time for any reason.

    I still strive to feed the teachers. In a building this size, I cannot get into every classroom every week. But I strive for every two to three weeks and I follow up with detailed written feedback. I create spreadsheets aligning various student assessment sources so teachers can easily filter, sort and triangulate the data. I advocate for more planning time (a futile endeavor) and use Title I funds to hire subs to give my teams a half day of release time every month. Grade level teams are free to create the curriculum based on the standards. I could go on and on. Yet, I’m far from perfect. I make mistakes. I lose my temper. I drop the ball. I’m far from perfect, but I am a recovering perfectionist and sometimes it comes out in an insensitive manner and feelings get hurt. I have many talented, dedicated and selfless teachers on my staff. They are committed to the children and the school. They appreciate me and what I am trying to do. Yet there will always be those who will never be satisfied. No matter how much encouragement or how many positive comments I give them, they only hear the critical words. They are affronted if I expect them to read current professional literature or change their practice in any way. They resent my expectation for collaboration. It’s unthinkable that they would plan during the summer. And how dare I question their professionalism when they are late two or more times a week? Every week. I strive to feed the teachers, but some do not like the vegetables.

    Does my post sound familiar? It sounds like all of the previous posts from teachers. Fifty percent of teachers leave after five years and 25% of principals leave after three. There are good teachers and bad teachers. There are good principals and bad principals. It’s the same in every walk of life. It’s wrong for the teachers to be blamed, and it’s wrong for the teachers to blame the principals.

    Teaching is hard. Being a principal is hard. Perhaps harder. And that’s why this article makes me sad. We are all in the same hard boat. So why are we throwing each other overboard?

    Reply
    • John

      I had the same visceral reaction as Heavy Heart did to this article. Perhaps it is because many of the things Heavy Heart writes about apply to myself. I am also a principal. I strive to give my staff everything I can. I am honored to have the responsibility of ensuring that every student in my school succeeds. I have been a teacher and I feel deeply for the work that they must take on in order to help students learn.

      I am readily willing to admit that there are poor principals and other leaders. I am also ready to admit that there are poor teachers. It is easy to blame leadership when so many are focused on their personal/professional hardships. If I’ve done my job right, the teachers can feel free to criticize me; I actually welcome it. The truth is, I’m often fighting battles for their schedule, for their pay, for their academic freedom. If I’m doing my job right, then they can focus on teaching without worrying about all of the other issues that leaders have to handle.

      I am not sad that some believe it is leadership (I am actually certain its a part of it). I am however disheartened that quite often it is the one place people look. I do not seek to blame my teachers, and I hope they have the professional courtesy to do the same for me.

      I do have a problem with teacher education programs as they currently exist. So many try to prepare teachers with theory or with information that does not meet practice. For example, many courses in teacher education classes really get down to statements such as: “You shouldn’t lecture to your class” – delivered in a lecture setting. I witness and have experienced these courses highlighting the best ways to teach while still holding to the old pedagogical methodologies. Yes, leadership can be a problem. However, I also believe that if we do not prepare our teachers for the world they are entering, how can we expect them to survive past the first five years? There are also those who think teaching might be the right job for them… until they enter the classroom. The reality of 30+ students staring at you and the responsibility of handling parents, legal mandates, schedules, etc. is daunting to say the least. Unfortunately some do not come to this conclusion until they have been in the classroom for a few years.

      I hope that we can all find a way to work toward improving the system. I try to remember that my goal is to help children. I am a principal every day because I believe that together (teachers and principals) we can build a brighter future for every child that enters our doors.

      Lets push boundaries, get uncomfortable, and make a difference.

      Reply
      • brownin329

        John: I agree with the tenor of what you said, but I think that if more principals and administrators pushed the powers that be who run these institutions to make teacher education on the same level as say, nursing, complete with special education courses (because, let’s face it; all teachers need to be certified in special education nowadays), maybe teachers would feel more competent when they started their first year. I was overwhelmed my first year and had no support, and I have dual-certification in two states. There is a big disconnect between what we learned in school and what we actually do in our professions. That makes us overburdened and under-prepared. Then a lot of us do not have the leadership you provide your staff. That makes it hard for us to be leaders in our classrooms.

        Teachers don’t just teach for tests. We, too, learn for tests. My education was not to prepare me for the classroom, but for the LAST, ATS-W and CSTs.

        Understand, too, John, that a lot of teachers do not have a safe space to let out their feelings without some kind of repercussion. This forum allowed a lot of people to get things off their chests they have felt for a very long time. People have a right to feel their experiences were disappointing, to put it mildly. Hopefully, one day we’ll have a real solution to the issues that teachers have in their classes and with their students, but until then, you may see more comments like this.

  76. Stephanie

    Great blog post! Taught for over 10 years and left for the same reasons mentioned in the article & others bring up in their comments. I’ve worked under administration that seemed to pick favorites. Was told “Sorry about your luck kiddo.” by an administrator when discussing theft of personal property (cell phone taken out of my desk)! Went to professional development where presenters were less than professional. (Why were we standing in a circle with our eyes closed while peers were told to stand behind us and whisper motivational comments?)

    Other issues that contributed to the decision to leave the classroom:
    – Threats of personal harm made by parents and students.
    – Working in an environment where bomb threats, lock-downs, riots, and guns in the building were common.
    – No pay increase for 8 years, not even 3% cost of living – a $56,000 loss of income.

    Reply
  77. NewLeader

    I think this article is a great discussion starter, but I caution everyone to not start blaming each other. I have been in education for 15 years,13 of those as a teacher. Until we as educators take control of the narrative, teachers and education leaders will continue to be the scapegoat for the larger problems plaguing our society. Politicians with no education background make the misguided and poorly implemented education policies! Community pressures to keep school budgets low are pushing districts to cut, cut, cut! A school leader’s first priority is the same as the teachers, the kids. As an assistant principal, I have noticed that teachers sometimes don’t recognize that I need to be supportive of students, teachers, and parents. Educators need to be reflective of their practice and never stop learning. I work with teachers address concerns. I always welcome feedback so that I can improve just as I would expect the teachers welcome it as well. We are all in this together!

    Reply
    • brownin329

      Good for you, NewLeader, but understand that that is not the norm for all teachers. As I said to John above, this forum is probably the only place teachers can safely vent their frustrations. Try not to take it personally if you, as you say, are one of the good ones.

      Reply
  78. Gene

    Can you imagine just how horrible this teaching environment must be for most students? And to realize that the situation could easily be remedied if only they would “just say NO to standardized testing”. Imagine the possibilities!

    Reply
  79. Grace

    Interesting. I’m leaving healthcare after 14 years for the exact same reasons teachers seem to be leaving education (with slight differences of course). I am getting IN to the education industry. After 14 years in hospitals, a master’s in healthcare administration, healthcare certifications up the wazzu, I’m done. During this time, I was a “pee-on” in the hospitals, but worked my way up to “boss-lady” status and served in high level manager/director/administrator level positions, etc. Problems in healthcare have apparently prepared me well for what may be in store for me in the classroom. Yep, I am going back to school for a master’s in teaching and will hopefully become an elementary school teacher and start my new career in a little less than 2 years. You think teaching and education is bad, try healthcare. The time I’ve spent w/my 3 kids at home and volunteering in their classrooms over the past 5 years, my numerous PTA and committee leader roles, Board Member roles, volunteering to teach art & music, getting certified in Common Core by our STATE PTA, etc… might as well get paid for it and follow my heart. I for one, know I’ll be an exceptional educator and administrator in education one day.

    Reply
    • brownin329

      Everyone I know who has made that same statement has…well, good luck to you:)

      Reply
  80. Dan

    I didn’t read all the comments so it may have been stated earlier. I don’t think it’s the down time and prep time and that sort of support the teachers are looking for. They want support in dealing with all the thugs, brats and unrulely kids that disrupt the class and there is no way to disipline them.
    Every school administration is too afraid of being sued and many parents are just looking for a chance to get rich quick so they all but encourage their kids to misbehave in school. I would sugges that each year at the beginning of school that every parent along with their children be required to attend a meeting where they read over the rules and consequences of bad behavior and then sign a consent form. That way when the kid does wrong there is no surprises and they can’t claim their child is being singled out.
    We have to regain some disipline in the school system or all the bad kids are going to get worst and disrupt to the point that good kids aren’t getting the education they deserve.
    Parents as a whole need to step up and parent and stop relying on the school system to teach your kids to have manners, be motivated and disaplined. You get those at home!! The teachers and school is there to educated your child not teach them morals.

    Reply
  81. Rick Peralta

    Teachers are in the middle of social upheaval. The administrators treat the teachers poorly and too often dump their problems on the teachers; when it should be the other way around. The school board is counting beans, instead of looking at the net effect of the system. The parents seldom truly respect the teachers and too often blame them for their own shortcomings. The kids follow how they are taught, to blame the teachers and do whatever they want.

    Once, teachers were poorly paid, required to live humble lives and well respected. Now teachers have a life or two, get paid well above the poverty level and are treated poorly by just about everyone. Worse, good teachers are openly attacked and mistreated universally…

    So, why not spend the time day trading…

    Reply
  82. kkh

    Those who teach, attempt to reach students with everything they have. Those who do not teach-never have and never will- make laws and policies that make a difficult job even more so.

    Reply
  83. Kate Cumiskey

    See the author’s disclaimer–this is a TINY sample. It is just as bad to blame the leaders as the teachers. The real culprit is us–the taxpayers. Particularly here, in Florida. I am one of those leaders, albeit not on a local level. The problem is, in a nutshell, we do not value education as taxpayers. Expecting “leaders” to do the things the author cites as solutions involves the one thing we are not willing to shoulder; money. Giving teachers needed planning time and support is not something leaders do not wish to do; it is something they cannot do due to the same problems at their level. We, the taxpayers, need to step up and take responsibility and stop blaming those who serve us as educators for problems we are the authors of.

    Reply
  84. JJ

    I can’t agree more with this article. The only thing I can add is that it is not only new teachers that feel this way. Teachers that have been in the profession fir years are feeling the same way. Problem is that it is hard to take a pay cut just to start over in a new profession. I even know teachers that have chosen to retire earlier than expected just to get out. I have been teaching for fifteen years. I can’t wait for this year to be finished as I am looking to find a job in a completely different field. I’m a fed up with the administrators lack of respect for a veteran teacher’s experience. I am also tired of not being treated as a professional and also for being blamed for the problems in our country. I’m out!

    Reply
  85. Tara

    For me, this post has two major limitations. First, “administrative support” is still a vague term and means different things to different teachers. A new teacher may want more genuine involvement from administrators, especially in more challenging schools. A veteran teacher may view support as autonomy. The author’s four recommendations are not only vague, but also they may not be within an administrator’s control (i.e. teachers’ schedules). Second, teacher turnover is only a problem if it is the effective teachers who are leaving. The author only differentiated among the teachers she asked by saying they had “various years in the system and at different levels” without any indication of these teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. It should be noted that effective teaching is also vague terminology; however, that is not within the scope of this conversation.

    Reply
  86. DMWD

    Thank you so much for this writing. The comments are valuable as well. I recently retired from teaching for 23+ years (mostly secondary) and lack of administrative support was the main reason for the daily difficulties and hurdles I encountered.

    I have worked for many principals and most were subpar in quality. Almost all of them entered administration with non-science or non-math teaching backgrounds, coached some sport, and/or had an “in” to administration with political assistance. The younger they were, the more they catered to or worked to please the parents when it came to actual discipline. In all fairness though, I observed this in more experienced and “weak spined” principals, too.

    Most principals focused on pleasing the parents, getting as many teachers as possible to do their (principal’s) work, giving teachers work which really exists to justify administration’s existence and had no effect whatsoever, staying off the radar, promoting themselves (propaganda, etc.), physically being at events, and putting in the time for retirement. I firmly believe that principals and administration have NO business in teacher evaluation. After all, they got out of the classroom and most do so as soon as possible! I have always wished for a group of highly regarded and experienced teachers to evaluate me. Certainly, that is not a principal or administration.

    Why? There is a natural and requisite adversarial relationship between teachers and administration the way things work now. This relationship is heavily skewed with power on the administration end and teachers do not have any recourse except for union intervention or, most importantly, litigation.

    I obviously still keep up with educational matters and trends and am consistently amazed and bewildered that the solutions offered tend to result somehow in having teachers do more of this or that. How in the world have principals and administration managed to escape being targeted for their educational responsibilities? Teachers are basically accountable for just about everything these days and I want teachers to look really hard at the principals and administration responsible for the educational infrastructure of their school. We cannot do much at all to change parents or parenting but the system CAN change the way principals and administrators function to support teachers.

    Reply
  87. DMWD

    Post Script: I forgot to mention that my last principal is so busy with work that he runs a driving school on the side. Also…for heavyheart…you mention that 25% of principals leave in that 3 year time frame. Do you know why? In my state, that is all that is necessary to raise your retirement pay!

    Reply
  88. TheTruth

    You can thank liberals for all the latest nonsense. Teachers no longer have rights because these liberal psychopaths up above have stripped teachers of their authority and handed it to the students and parents. Political correctness makes us feel guilty for saying boo to a student. Obama’s Race to the Top is just another version of No Child Left Behind. I’m glad I left teaching. These liberal nuts have destroyed our system. Them and their “there are no losers” mentality has led to the dumbing down of our students and thus society!!! I could go on and on and on, but why bother.

    Reply
  89. Melissa Bresnahan

    I am a recently retired teacher. I worked in education for 35 years. It was a wonderful rewarding career. I certainly did not get rich but made a decent living. Everyday, I felt like I had a purpose and something important to do. Teaching is an all consuming, exhausting job. After sleeping and doing nothing for several months, I am now enjoying retirement. I have not had a cold or been sick for almost two years. I think this article is spot on! I apologize, in advance, for any grammatical errors or typos made in this response. I am getting old and I taught Kindergarten for the last 7 years of my career so I have not had recent practice with big words and numbers over 100!

    Reply
  90. JoAnn

    I was teaching in the 70s when the first round of teacher bashing occurred and I remember feeling how many of the posters to this blog feel…embattled. It is almost 50 years later and the sad truth is that nothing has changed for kids. If you are poor and go to a school in a high poverty area, you simply will not receive the quality of education you would receive if you were going to school in the well off suburban district down the road. The same excuses we heard then we hear now: it’s the parents’ fault, those kids are out of control, etc., etc. Meanwhile, we educational professionals, paid pretty well by the public, seem to have become experts at being victims, insisting that there is nothing we can do to make things better, insisting that we are the biggest victims of the tragedy playing out in so many of our schools. Gone are the voices that focused on kids, that challenged the underlying suppositions, that dared to be champions of the real victims here. Alas Babylon.

    Reply
  91. Kelly

    I’m wondering how many teachers have early high blood pressure, digestive, anxiety and sleep issues? How many retire after 30 some years of teaching have strokes or heart attacks in their first few years of retirement? I ask because I know many colleagues going through this. Is it worth it?

    Reply
    • brownin329

      My acid reflux, insomnia and depression started the year I became a teacher, and I put on 60 pounds since then (but I blame myself for that one).

      Reply
  92. Catherine

    I am tired of hearing it is leadership’s fault that things go awry in education. Teachers need to be leaders too and do what is right, regardless of leadership. Having been both a teacher and an administrator on the high school level, I hold both leadership and teachers responsible for so many new teachers leave the teaching profession; I also hold post secondary teacher education responsible. One of the reasons why young, secondary teachers are leaving the teaching profession is they are given the hardest classes right out of the gate, not having any experience with class room management, very little education in being a diverse practitioner, and only one course in adolescent development. They come out of weak education programs into schools where department chairs, who are teachers, make the schedules for their departments and then give those schedules to the administrator in charge of the main schedule. I have seen too many department schedules with new ? in the slot for the large, freshmen and sophomore classes and too many veteran teachers in the advanced placement slots or senior seminars. I have heard teachers say, “Well, I paid my dues and now it is their turn. I had to learn on my feet and so can they.” Teaching is not an easy profession and no college classroom can prepare a teacher for what he or she will experience in the classroom. Beyond this intrinsic structural flaw in secondary education, the post secondary educational system for teachers appears to be set up to program failure. The lack of education to develop a diverse practitioner as well as the lack of understanding of adolescent development contributes to the exodus of new teachers. I am tired of hearing how things have changed and how school are educating teachers for the 21st century. I am in classrooms where facts are still taught to little people out of outdated textbooks, and instructors are wondering why no one is paying attention to how the whatever people created a new capital for whatever the area in Egypt is in 500 BC because some other group invaded and burnt down the old capital. I see textbooks, old classics, and posters instead of the internet, new world literature and google earth. I see bored children who are not auditory linguistic but spatial, kinetic, visual, and musical. I see direct instruction where information is presented when students should be researching and finding out what they need to know. So, undereducated practitioners are sent into a structure that puts them at risk right off the bat; then sadly, few veteran teachers want to coach or mentor new teachers because of time issues and a poor community culture. Thus, new teachers are left to fend for themselves in a structure set up to support the following: those kids do not matter, it is the parents fault, you can’t do anything with them so just let it be. Now, I know I am speaking from an urban perspective, having worked in central cities, and I also know this is not true for every school. But it is true for too many schools, and I am seeing these truths in suburban districts too. I know people are tired and the politics of education have become overwhelming, but this is no reason to cast new teachers adrift in a sea of who knows what with no one on the shore, at least cheering them on. If that had been the situation when I entered teaching in 1981 I would never had made it. But, I had a great mentor who offered to help me, and she didn’t depend on leadership to tell her to do what she knew, as a teacher, was the right thing to do. My mentor sat in my classes during her prep time and she was kind enough to tell me I was boring and I needed to do some things differently in order to engage my freshmen students and entice them to learn and be eager to learn. My mentor lured me to the road less traveled and, as Robert Frost wrote, that has made all the difference.

    Reply
    • brownin329

      Good for you, but that is not the experience of all of the teachers, and it is hard to be the leader that you want to be when your hands are tied due to regulations, etc. It’s always push back from some holier-than-thou administrator that thinks all you need is a little more hard work and elbow grease to get the job done, but as a lot of us have learned the hard way, hard work doesn’t necessarily mean you’re solving the problems. In fact, if we organize better and put the right programs in place, maybe we wouldn’t have to work as hard, but be more strategic.

      Let the teachers have their say. We’ve earned the right to complain when we want to.

      Reply
  93. Polly

    I am about to retire after 29 years if teaching high school–mostly in alternative schools with at-risk kids. I still thoroughly enjoy the kids, but I’m just done being poor. I’ve nearly always scrambled for every penny, including having to work a second job. I have a master’s degree in my subject (English) and 130 graduate units in education and in English. After 29 years, I am exhausted.
    In my current district, we went without even cost-of-living increases for more than five years. During that time, the district hired a new superintendent at nearly $250,000/year and even paid him $60,000 in moving expenses, despite the fact that he already owned a vacation home in our district and was moving here from only an hour’s drive away.
    This year, we are begging for a 3% raise. The district offered 4% more pay if we’d extend the school day by 30 minutes–15 prep and 15 class time. We have a five-period day–how much good is it going to do my students to have THREE extra minutes per class? And by the way–that “huge” 4% raise comes if we agree to work 7% more time. Gee, thanks.
    But don’t worry-the superintendent is getting a $5000 raise this year.
    THAT is total disrespect. THAT is saying the teachers don’t matter as long as the guys at the top are happy. Not one of my students has even MET the superintendent.

    Reply
  94. Marianne Flanagan

    It’s all the regulation. Our hands are tied. We are accountable for every breath we take, constantly under a microscope. Common core has trickled down to Head start. Every second of every day has to have an education purpose while we are told every day what we can no longer do so we are in compliance. I am struggling to make it another year and a half until i retire. If it wasn’t for my kids and families I think I would already re gone, and i am only teaching at the Head start level.

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  95. Anabelia Sanchez

    I believe that when I was hired at this district, I was welcomed eagerly and with open arms. It was a phone interview, as my husband was stationed in Utah. Being a new teacher in a new district, the teachers already there quickly said that they felt sorry for me and they would try to move students around to make it fair. These other teachers had hand picked their students. The principal was fine with it as theses were the teachers she brought with her to this new school. When teachers asked the principal to spread the wealth in order to give the new teacher a fair chance, the principal disapproved. So as the year continued, I was being criticized and watched like a hawk. I knew nothing of the class. Theses students were the students that shouldn’t have passed or the bottom of the barrel kids. Sad to hear. Anyways, I gave it my all and to my surprise my students were still lagging behind others. Testing scores were a huge indicator of teacher performance. After benchmark 2, which was the previous years released test, I had 1 student out of 15 pass. So, the principal made it a point to say I was a good teacher that needed polishing. I actually reminded her that I inherited the class, the gaps they had, and how much progress they had. I had been teaching ten years already. She just said that I was not a star teacher and wasn’t expecting teacher failure. I was devastated, belittled, and humiliated. Never in my years of teaching did I ever have this problem. I also asked her that if I was such a bad teacher, why didn’t she give this class to a star teacher? She actually responded with the fact that she let her teachers pick their students and that this class was intended for another teacher they were trying to get rid of. So, I finished out the year with ok scores. This principal used me as a scapegoat. She gave me no support and many excuses. She is one of the worst I’ve had. This elementary school met all 6 standards for the Staar test in 2014, even with my low class, and even beat high performing schools. Did i get an apology or a pat on the back? Of course not, instead i was told id be teaching first grade because i wasnt cut out to teach a staar grade. She went on to district office. We hired a new principal. This principal believes that if the teacher is not performing to par, it’s her fault. She said that she would provide support. I started this year in first grade. I was doing really good, my students were perfoing well on tests, behavior was not an issue. So, from one day to the next, I actually got moved from first to third. The teacher I replaced moved down to my class and I took hers. I thought to myself, here I go again. So needless to say, I am teaching 3rd. I have the sped students 504, and behavior problems. But these students are actually showing progression and their benchmarks look good. Of course, the 3rd grade classes are not leveled. I have the low students again. I did not complain, just told my administration that to remember what I inherited and what happened to me last year so there isn’t a repeat this year. I have been granted support for my students. I am not as stressed this year as last, although I’m still worried because our teacher evaluation is still based on test scores! Mind you, I have the most students with gaps to fill. Some of my students cannot read at 3rd grade level, but 1st grade. I hope for a good rest of the year.

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  96. Jess

    Oh please, please, go one more step. I worry about blaming leadership at the school and district level. While there are many leaders that need more training and be better managers (as a former teacher in multiple school districts around the country, I am well aware of this issue), I think those leaders are put under enormous strain by state and federal regulations that then passed down to a classroom teacher. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves but take a look a principal leadership. Also leaving. The demands from above are so high and often unrealistic.

    I’ve also had the privilege to also work in a policy organization in DC. I say privilege because I now know how different the policy world operates and makes decisions. Of our small staff, I was the one teacher. The staff had degrees in public policy but no experience in classrooms, schools, and no districts. They were responsible for HUGE state policy changes in the past ten years WITH NO EXPERIENCE and they understand the daily hardship of the way that their policy played out in a classroom of individuals.

    We need a bridge between policy + actuality. We need light on what top officials are writing and where they get their research. I want to see them in the classroom, in admin positions, carrying out the policy that they wrote and understanding the way that it plays out. It’s not always our leaders at the district and school level, rather our state + national that needs to change.

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  97. Karren

    This is SO TRUE!!!! And, trust me, it’s not only the new teachers leaving, it’s some of our BEST OLDER EXPERIENCED TEACHERS heading out the door, too!! This current climate of blaming teachers for learning problems, expecting them to put up with severe behavior problems while trying to teach, plus expecting them to be content with a very low salary while the people “above” them are getting substantially larger salaries, just stinks!! They are mandated to receiving “coaching assistance of advice” from people who were not successful in the teaching role themselves!!! They are asked to collect mountains of data, test for data, record data, measure data, and discuss the data in meeting after meeting– over and over again! They’re also subjected to so-called “professional development” trainings that are MIND-DULLING-NUMBING-BORING! For the most part, those meetings are wasted time–certainly not developing anyone’s mind for teaching–just on how to stay on the current treadmill of “TEACHER BUSY WORK”! Okay. I’ve had my say. So my favorite one of the five you listed is this one:
    “Take all extra, bureaucratic, busy work off teachers’ plates and let them teach.
    IF ONLY THEY WOULD DO THIS!!! WE CAN PRAY THAT WILL HAPPEN!!

    Thank you for writing this column. I hope it’s sent to everyone in an educational position of leadership at the federal, state, local, and building level. They all need to see it! There are SOME GOOD LEADERS, but as a whole, we really need many more good LEADERS WHO HAVE BEEN GREAT TEACHERS THEMSELVES FOR SEVERAL YEARS, WHO UNDERSTAND THE JOB OF TEACHING, WHO UNDERSTAND THE DEVOTION AND HARD WORK OF A GREAT TEACHER, and WHO BELIEVE THAT TEACHERS SHOULD BE GETTING PAID AS MUCH AS THE PEOPLE ABOVE THEM THAT CHOSE TO LEAVE THE CLASSROOM BECAUSE THEY WERE TIRED OF BEING A CLASSROOM TEACHER!!

    If the climate had been better, I wouldn’t have retired from teaching last year at 60 years of age. I do miss the kids and teaching! But, I assure you, I sure don’t miss all that “EXTRA, BUREACRATIC, BUSYWORK” that kept me working 60 hours a week!!!!

    And I know I’m one of MANY WHO CHOSE TO LEAVE RATHER THAN TO CONTINUE TO RUIN MY HEALTH and LIFE WITH STRESS!!!

    Reply
    • Concerned Citizen

      I agree with the article, but one of the main causative factors of teachers needing so much support is a dangerous plague upon this country. Lack of decent parenting. I’m an older parent (child of the 60s-70s) with children in the first and third grade. I see the issues of bad, or especially “non-parenting” on a day to day basis. I understand what an “investment in my children truly is. If more people worked hard to allow children to have more stay-at-home moms (I understand that it’s not always possible), more general parent participation, caring, and proper priorities in these children’s lives, there would be very little need for administrators to deal with “situations”, and they could get back to what they should actually be doing. I’m certainly not perfect, but ask the teachers about my children, and you will receive a giant smile, and glowing reviews. I refuse to let them fail, and support their teachers with a smile and much encouragement. I hope to hear more positive stories, and feel free to go out and help create a positive one yourselves, if you haven’t already…..

      Reply
  98. Baltimore Teacher

    I think this article is leaving out the biggest, fattest, badcat at the table. Poverty. While I agree that an administration that fails to support, and in many cases directly works against, the efforts of the teachers is a big reason to leave the profession, I think that underlying that is truly the obstacles that our students face because of poverty. The anxiety, lack of focus, lack of parental support, drug use, mental health issues, PTSD, hunger, etc. etc. etc. are all aspects or bedfellows of poverty that come walking into the classroom with our students. I have had very terrible, very obstinate, administrators. But, at the end of the day, the things that made the big difference in my students’ growth were things like getting removed from their foster care placements; witnessing a family member get shot; taking care of five younger siblings, while pregnant, as a freshman. I see these problems as mainly products of poverty. Even with oodles of support and autonomy, these things will still exist and make teaching too dang hard.

    Along with breaking our hearts, the real impacts of poverty on our students make our jobs as educators incredibly, often insurmountably, difficult. I think we should focus there, and only there, until we have true opportunity in this country. Focusing on administration takes the focus off of poverty, in my view.

    Could you perhaps talk with your 10 teacher friends about the ways poverty has impacted them and their students? And then let’s also discuss how the CCSS disproportionately damages low-income students and students of color.

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  99. Kiersten

    As a first year teacher in a district with great students and parents (mostly), I agree that leadership can be part of the reason teachers leave. I also want to say a word on additional teacher prep programs or boosted PD. I loved college, but my education courses could not prepare me for the responsibilities, difficult situations, flexibility needed, and overall skill required to manage a classroom. They tried, but I don’t think it’s possible to teach teaching well. You just have to get in a try it, and have the support for when you fail. I am part of a required mentoring program as well, for the first 2 years of teaching, and I can tell you that piling on mentoring assignments does not help a beginning teacher–it’s more work added to a teacher struggling to get it all done and getting paid very little to do it! That just doesn’t make sense. Give them support, and a mentor, but not homework to complete. That is making me a poorer teacher. Ok, rant over. -5th grade teacher in Iowa

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  100. Charli

    I taught for one year in GPISD and between my non supportive advisors at ECAP (one of the worst alternative certification programs EVER), my ego driven administrator who was clearly in it for the paycheck and the status, I am traumatized at the thought of entering back into a classroom setting and having to deal with all the shenanigans I had to put up with my first (and probably my one and only) year of teaching! I taught at a middle school (I won’t say the name, but Cameron Diaz taught there once in a movie) Anyway, I had nothing but overcrowded classes 2nd through 7th period. I had to share my classroom with a math teacher who was teaching from a cart she had to wheel from room to room because she didn’t have her own classroom. I was teaching family and consumer and ZERO planning time. My planning period was when the math teacher used my room to teach so I literally had to plan my lessons on a table in the kitchen! Let me remind you that this was my FIRST year teaching! I received no help from my ECAP mentor (she fell asleep during my class on several occasions) and wrote up unsatisfactory performance reports about me. She and my principal tried to get me to quit on several occasions but I hung in there. My students were the ONLY reason I kept coming back every day. No one could handle my class like I could. I had subs that tried, even other teachers when I had to go to ARD’s, and they all said they had no idea how I managed to teach with so many students all day. I was put on a T.I.N.A. program during the Christmas break, which was nothing more than more books to read and papers the district wanted me to write on how to improve as a teacher. In the end, I was not awarded my teaching certification and it left me questioning my abilities as an educator. I worked my butt off and I was constantly criticized. I mean I had no idea what I was walking into and I really needed more support! I spent several lunch breaks in the faculty bathroom crying my eyes out. It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my adult life. I honestly don’t know how I made it through the year! That’s not at all what a first year teachers experience should be.

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  101. shill

    Teachers with any degree of sense (and who aren’t bucking to get into administration) know what the problem is. However, since they don’t have any power to change it, we are going to see more and more good teachers leaving as well as staying too long and ending up being burned out. Teachers need to be in the classroom no less than ten years before they are allowed to move into administration, and even THEN they should be required to go BACK into the classroom and teach for a MINIMUM of a six week period every school year.

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    • Julia in Canada

      I totally agree. In fact I would go even further – I think vice principalships should be seconded positions – 4-5 years of leadership work where the person then returns to the classroom. Perhaps they could repeat their VP-ship 3 times in a career. This way great teachers could learn new skills and get some interesting opportunities, and then return to teaching, refreshed. The work of a VP would then be better understood as well, and teachers would resent the “leadership” less. Imagine after 20 years or so how much better mutual understanding there would be among us! Principals could be chosen from the best – and also could return to teaching without shame. I think some administrators lose their love for kids and teachers because their jobs are too demanding too, and this would allow for their spiritual renewal as well.

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  102. Julia in Canada

    A principal should stand beside their teachers and be proud of them and support them. The job of a principal is to KNOW their teachers and care about them and help them do their job. THE PRINCIPAL IS THE SUPPORT WORKER FOR THE TEACHERS! I have taught secondary for 21 years. In that time I have had 2 decent principals, one excellent one, and 2 doozies who were snakes in the grass, actively undermining and degrading the best teachers. The excellent principal was as good as they get – really friendly, a good listener, confidential, hard working, helpful – even doing such things as sorting out the recycling and picking up garbage with the kids, and bringing chairs to my room if one was broken etc – and also one who championed his teachers and celebrated their work. Of course this excellent principal got promoted and is now an assistant superintendent. The decent ones are now retired but were beloved by some, and the snaky ones are still wreaking havoc in the system.
    I really value our union – they care about the teachers’ lives and support them through unjust processes brought about by ridiculous parent complaints and lame principals shifting blame. If it weren’t for our strong union that is focussed on helping teachers we would have a much harder time. I know our situation here is better than in the US, we are paid more – I make more than $80,000 and we have decent class size and some prep time. We also have managed to avoid the standardized testing craze and we have autonomy in the classroom. Also there is less poverty over all in our society compared to the US, and so the situation in the schools is better. But we have neo-liberal governments that want to cut public service, and we are seeing bad trends. Oh dear, will I last another 10 years to retire out of teaching?

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  103. clif

    … lack of support by leadership is cited as the main reason teachers leave the profession. Have we asked the question … Why do we have such poor educational leaders?

    here’s my take … in my experience all too often the leaders in education, the principals, and the superintendents, are rarely actually good teachers themselves. They got out of the classroom as quickly as they could by taking one of the multiple routes offered by universities to get that coveted administration degree. Typically this involves night classes where the most rigorous thing done is to show up. Once you get your foot in the door as an administrator … you’re set. Do a poor job … get kicked upstairs. State departments of education are comprised of failed administrators.

    So .. not a good teacher? … be an administrator. Not a good administrator? Get kicked into gov’t education agencies.

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  104. ben

    News flash: They don’t care about anyone except themselves. It’s business as usual.

    Money……

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  105. ToughDay

    If you develop a culture of learning and intellectual curiosity in the homes of children, the schools would be much better off. Teachers can only do so much.
    Hey parents: You birth them, you raise them. And do it PROPERLY while you’re at it. You know, the whole idea of making society better with intelligence, personal responsibility, respectfulness, and self-restraint?

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  106. Burnt-out Admin

    I understand why teachers blame administration for not giving enough support – because they mistakenly believe that the administration has control over what is happening in schools. This is simply not the case. 1. We do not have funding for adequate staffing. 2. We do not have support systems in place for students with behavioral or emotional disorders. (We can’t require parents to get the therapy those kiddos need. School supports are band-aids. Medical help is needed, but if even social services can’t make it happen, there isn’t much I can do, even though 960s are flying off my desk every way to Sunday. 3. Keeping kids in school (and in class) is our job. We are the first to get sued if we are out of compliance and the first to get canned if we don’t make AYP.

    Teachers aren’t the only ones desperate to leave the profession. I am walking away 16 years before requirement. Much of it is due to stress and lack of support. Teachers point fingers. Parents point fingers. Politicians point fingers. Society points fingers. We are never going to fix what is wrong with education until we eliminate high stakes testing, fully fund our schools and recognize we are all on the same team. Working together is the key.

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  107. Justin

    I agree 100% with most everything you read. As a high school business teacher I always say that if a business was run like our school it would be out of business. The only thing that school admin has with business is that they are selfishly motivated.

    School is no longer about the student. It’s about who can make a buck or get their school ranked higher.

    The said truth is it is hurting our youth. I always believed our role was to inspire a life long desire to learn. Unfortunately our problems suck that very desire out of the students. Our anxieties get absorbed by the kids. School is no longer a sanctuary. It is a breeding ground for anxiety, stress, depression and a lifelong resentment for continuous learning.

    I never though I would lose the passion but my passion is now in my own children who I have to spend the next ten years preparing for the ills of public education.

    Good luck to all. As a teacher of entrepreneurship I plan on practicing what I preach and start my own business. Many of you who are dissatisfied and feel you have no alternative, remember starting your own business is always an option and something most teachers have the tools to accomplish.

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  108. Patti

    I got out for these 10 reasons. I wouldn’t tell anyone to go into the profession

    1. Working 12+ hours a day and going in on Sundays and still not getting all of the paper work for the district done. (NO TEACHER needs that amount of daily data on each kid…it is in his/her heart and brain!)

    2. Too much curriculum crammed in to the 5 1/2 hours students were present…and all presented in small groups. Public teaching used to be teach to the whole and maybe a group of high or low….not six groups of reading, writing, math, etc each day…..that is TUTORING FOLKS!

    3. Too much special needs in class WITHOUT training or support.

    4. Not enough plan time. I went from teaching 6 classes a day (basic subjects = to what high school teachers teach) to making 17 lessons a day or more with all of the small groups and special needs…..and not one minute of planning time was added….hence the 12+ hours a day.

    5. Rise in ADHD. No wonder with the demands on a 5, 6, or 7 year old!!!

    6. Administration referring to kids by their “level”. “You are getting a new red kid!” ARGGGGGHHHHH…they are little children with a name! Their academic level used to be a side factor!

    7. Too many hats. Not only are you the teacher of 17 classes, the secretary documenting everything every student did in those 17 classes, the psychologist, the webmaster, the tech person, the social committee chairman, the professional development leader…..blah blah blah.

    8. Administrators evaluating who themselves don’t know what you are doing…therefore cannot see that you are putting your WHOLE SELF into the job. Still telling you it isn’t enough.

    9. No pay raise for the amount of work that has been added on.

    10. NO TIME LEFT FOR YOUR OWN FAMILY…EXHAUSTED!

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  109. Yevette

    I am a first year teacher. Rather than a traditional teacher education, I received my credential in a residency program, spending a year with a Master Teacher. The preparation program I went through has been nationally acclaimed and I learned an incredible amount. I meet with a coach once or twice a week who is both helpful and supportive. Yet, I am doubtful that I will be back next year.

    I deal with children – 12 and 13 year old children – being rude and disrespectful to my face. On a daily basis, I deal with everything from personal insults to defiance and insubordination. I’m not terrible at classroom management, but I have 32 students in a class and the societal expectation is that in order for them to listen to me or respect me, I have to first get to know them personally, entertain them and bend over backwards to show them respect. After doing this for 32 students, five classes a day, they might reward me with a few minutes of attention, during which I can attempt to teach them a lesson that should be geared for students several grades below them and some of the students will still not be able to understand the concepts I am teaching. My pay is based off of survey data and test scores. I regularly have to give up my prep for meetings, standardized testing schedules or other things that I have no control over but must be on board with. It’s not uncommon to work from around 7:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening without stopping for lunch or even to use the restroom. Even so, I take home work and don’t always meet all of the expectations set out for me. I go home with my ears ringing from student noise, my voice hoarse from trying to talk over them, my belongings vandalized and with a to do list that includes things like shopping for dances or buying supplies.

    I go home every day feeling defeated and the instructions from leadership are to give every student a smile and clean slate every day. After having to spend 20 minutes to scrub a penis drawing off of a desk – 20 minutes that I could have been spending with my own child, having to run to target to replace yet another stapler because a student broke mine, yet again, staying at work the previous day until 7pm to make another class set of all of the make up work because the semester is ending and half of the students haven’t bothered to turn in anything or participate but now their parents want them to pass – it’s not a clean slate. Their behaviors and choices have had a significant impact on my time, the time I spend with my family and my self worth. Yet I bear the consequence so that they can have a “clean slate” and the expectation from the adults in their life that “today is the day they’ll remove their head from their rear and realize that without an education, they can’t work and pay for the stupid cell phone that they are never more than six inches away from”. Kids need real consequences – they need to fail and learn, be punished and have to make restitution, realize that when they damage property or waste materials that it causes their teacher not to trust them. Until that happens, I don’t want to be a doormat for a bunch of students who are being escorted to a life of mediocrity.

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  110. LARRY

    I have read and really enjoyed most of the replies on this blog. I agree with a majority of the replies but I love teaching and have always wanted to teach if given the opportunity to do so. I have tried very hard to become a Master educator and it seems that when you reach a certain age after 40 you are therefore considered obsolete and your teaching skills must be inadequate to teach any longer,because I have tried unsuccessfully for three years now to obtain a teaching position after returning to school to receive my education degree almost 8 years ago. My professors told me I would be a valuable commodity to any Elementary school because of my life experiences and that I would be able to relate to the younger children, much like a grandfather and his grandchildren. Unfortunately, administrators see only age as a detriment instead of an asset to their schools and hire those younger teachers, who are the big part of the article written above, who leave the profession between three to five years after they are first hired. Therefore, and even though, I know many of the new technologies and methodologies that these younger teachers have been taught in their respective universities needed for instruction because I graduated just a few years ago as they did, I am always passed over for the teaching position for the younger person. So in retrospect, I want to teach and even though it is a hard profession to pursue a career in presently with the student behavior, parent attitude, and lack of support for the teacher by administrators. The bottom line is that what else can a man over 40 do after returning to school to receive a degree in a profession that he truly does love in mid-life only to find that he must return to the employment he did before he decided to go back to school, in order to support his family? The school districts I have dealt with should be ashamed in how they look at older teachers and they way they do not support the ones that they currently have in their schools, but it starts at the top with the Human Resource management people who set the guidelines for their hiring practices. So we cannot set the blame on just Principals, Assistant Principals, or Administrators for these school districts, because they base their practices on what the school districts Human Resource Managers have given them as their mandate. I just wish with all my heart that I could actually be given the opportunity to do what I returned to school for, but instead I am working back in retail in order to support my family, who will always be first in my heart. Thanks for reading this and I know this has nothing to do with the blog, but I need to get this off my chest.

    Reply
  111. LARRY

    I forgot to ad a couple of more things to my reply.

    A professor once said in one of my classes at college, ” if you are wanting to become a teacher for the money or the vacation time, then you are going into the wrong profession!” ” You are there for the kids!”

    Secondly, another teaching colleague of mine always sent me email while I was subbing long term for school. It was simple but holds true to this day. It was always on the bottom line of his email messages and it stated, Teachers make all other professions possible. Isn’t it strange then that many other professionals that we teach make a better salary than we ever will and they do not need to go through the continuous Educational training and Professional Development that teachers do or have the stress both physically and mentally placed upon them to do their job.

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  112. Lisa Bailey

    I read this article with great interest and a little sadness. As a third-year special education teacher I can say I agree with the author in so many ways. Thing is, I became aware of this as a first-year teacher. I have an alternative license and have been teaching middle schoolers with autism for three years. Sometimes a relative “outsider” sees these things much more quickly than someone who’s been in education for decades. I was very surprised to be put in a classroom to teach three grade levels, with students at ability ranges from kinder to 4th grade, five subjects a day, and given NO curriculum, but told I had to find my own. On top of that I have some very difficult behaviors to deal with, AND am expected to collaborate with general education teachers, when my kiddos do not even approach that ability level. I love my kids, and could take all of this in stride if I thought I had the support of admin, but sadly, I feel I don’t. Our new AP was quick to toss me under the bus without having all the facts (she later apologized) but the damage was done. Admin is too concerned with being politically correct and walking on eggshells around unreasonable parents, and not as concerned as it should be with what’s best for the students. I’m not even close to quitting, but this is certainly not what I thought I was signing up for.

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  113. Anne Smith

    The only thing I would add is cut our numbers down. They cram more and more kids into classrooms that were never meant to hold more than about 25-30 students with desks, bookcases, and other necessary materials. Yet, we are told our “numbers are down” unless we have 40+ students in our rooms. This isn’t college, this is K-12. We’re dealing with changing bodies, shifting hormones, and other factors that are well beyond our control. If a student is behind, the teachers are blamed. No one inquires why the student might be behind, and many of the programs that are supposed to help are either underfunded or carry a stigma.
    Well… let me add one more thing. Pay us what we are worth. However, if I had smaller classes, more planning time (with collaboration time), and the support from admin I need… it wouldn’t be so bad.

    Reply
  114. Pam

    The article and these comments have been fascinating to read. I taught for 15 years before becoming a site administrator. I was an assistant principal for 2 years and a elementary and middle school principal for around 15 years. I am now back in teaching ( 3rd year) and loving it! I found that there are the strong and the weak in both positions.
    The stress in both teaching and site administration is unbelievable. Site administrators have very little control over what goes on at their sites. They have little say over who teaches at their site. The biggest frustration is that it is close to impossible to let poor teachers go. The district administrators are afraid of taking on the unions and often will not support the documented findings of site administrators. Laws have changed over the years and it has become increasingly difficult to suspend/expel the difficult students in a classroom. Parents and students know this and thus little is done to improve self-control and the development of responsible behavior.
    All that being said, what joy I had visiting the vast majority of the classrooms on my sites. Teachers who had obviously planned their lessons, were well-read and knew which strategy was the best to use to get the most from their students throughout the lesson. Teachers who were great about communicating expectations and concerns with both their students and the parents/guardians of their students. I left administration and returned to teaching for a few reasons: I did not feel supported by district administration; I hated the unreasonable demands they expected me to place on my teachers, and I was so inspired by the great teachers, I wanted to return to the classroom and try out their strategies myself. I missed teaching students.
    Is teaching hard? YES!! Is it worth it? A double YES!! Teachers who have strong classroom management skills, are well prepared each and every day, who know when to except good administrator support and ignore poor support will not leave the profession. They will get tired; they will get frustrated; they will stand up for what they believe; but they won’t leave the students who need them. I have close to 40 years in this wonderful profession and don’t see retirement anywhere in the near future. I’m having way too much fun.

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  115. Duane

    The largest issue is teaching to a test, and then to another test, and another test, — it goes on and on! It is most interesting if you do research that the best countries in the world, education wise, don’t believe in standardized testing and don’t use it. We have continuously gone the wrong direction for so long – it is hard to believe that we are where we are today. It makes me sick!

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  116. Kayla

    A lot of things going on in politics that have to do with education are not making the field attractive to new teachers at all. That along with the regular things that teachers put up with make the profession not very popular.

    Reply
  117. Mike

    I work as an Accountant in a public firm. For the first six years or so the work you are given is horrendous, but we put our time in. We work year round, receive little time to plan, and during busy seasons my hourly wage computes to about 5 dollars an hour. We receive a lot of support from administration but I think the education profession has changed so much and what educators are taught in school may be out of tune with reality… And perhaps maybe the support administration believes they should provide is also out of touch with reality. …I have many, many friends, who teach and hear the horror stories. But the fact is, these struggles are not just in the teaching profession, they are in every profession. The world is changing and we need to adapt.

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    • Jae

      Mike:

      As you, I am an accountant. But, I always wanted to be a teacher. So, I decided to take the risk to transition before it was too late (in life). And, what I found and frankly do not understand is why teachers are expected to jump from college into a solo leadership role in the classroom rather than transition like any other professional. As you mentioned, after graduating with a degree or degrees in accounting one enters a firm or organization in a supportive role. That time builds competence and confidence. There is no guarantee that the Jr. Accountant will advance. Only performance and other related factors determine when and if an individual moves into an independent leadership role after a period of doing foundational grunt work and ‘paying one’s dues’ – the very things that need to be mastered before moving into the next role. That experience provides the base upon which one can build a career. Everyone learns by doing. Yet, with teaching, after completing their college education the student is immediately transitioned to an independent leadership role in the classroom. Given the complexity of regulations, legislation and the diversity of demands in in the modern-day classroom it seems wholly inappropriate to thrust a new graduate into such a role. It takes time to translate knowledge to skill. Lawyers don’t graduate law school and start representing clients or dispensing legal advise. They do research for senior associates and partners. They prepare documents and take on increasingly more valuable, but still supportive, roles. It can take years of experience before a lawyer advances to chair in litigation or provides direct client consultation – unless one opens up a practice of one’s own. But, most people would not hire that person. Experience matters. The demands and unrealistic expectations put on new teachers today has to contribute to the high turnover. Class management, lesson planning, assessments, grading, continuing education, 504 accommodations, IDEA requirements, . . . How could anyone be reasonably expected to effectively juggle all aspects from day one. Mentors help, but that still leaves the new teacher in a largely unsupported lead position. Teaching is a profession that requires a trajectory. It would seem that no matter how intelligent or how well-intentioned a new teacher may be, time in a seat and some student teaching hours does not adequately prepare a new graduate for carrying the mantle of such essential responsibilities without being given adequate time to practice and perfect critical skill-sets. I understand that much is an issue of economics, but what is the true cost of dropping new graduates into the deep end of the pool and letting them sink or swim? Teachers and the teaching profession needs to be given the same as any career – time to walk before running (though teaching is more like doing a crossword puzzle while balancing on a unicycle and juggling watermelons.) Any thoughts anyone? Tradespeople have apprenticeships, working under master craftsmen. Chefs start in the prep kitchen and work their way through the ranks regardless of what school they attend. And, as indicated earlier, accountants, lawyers and other professionals are afforded the opportunity to learn and grow into those roles. There are few professions which are more essential than teaching. They shape our children’s futures. Yet, they seem to be treated as if what they do doesn’t require a vast spectrum of complex skills which need to be developed. I would love to hear from teachers in this regard. And, I thoroughly respect anyone’s right to disagree – hopefully, not disagreeably,though.

      Reply
  118. Ross

    I’ve worked as a School Psychologist for 20 years. I am in-between teachers and administration and see both sides. I see more and more work and “accountability” being poured onto teacher via NCLB, teaching evaluations tied to student achievement outcomes… teachers are NOT the problem. After 15 years of service, I started a business of my own (Arborist) and within 3 years was financially independent and I now make more money in one weekend than I do “after topping out the salary schedule” in an entire month. Why do I remain in the School System with ineffective administrators who pile work and additional “accountability” requirements on me and teachers in an effort to draw our attention away from their obvious lack of effectiveness – that is why they do it to us all by the way it’s a diversion technique… give us more and more “busy work” in a effort to keep us diverted from telling them to “fix what’s wrong” with the system and we all know what that is… teachers and administrators alike – as each group demands accountability from the other the administrators’ response will be “let’s pile even more busy work on them to keep them busy” in lieu of looking in the mirror and doing something about the real root of the problem.

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  119. Elaine

    I am 55. I was in the military, have a B.S. in dental hygiene have a physician assistant degree. I also have a music degree. i taught music for 5 years in a private school (having no previous teaching experience in a classroom )and it was the best 5 years of my life. The kids thrived, I was fulfilled and parents were happy with the kids’ performances. I had to resign to take care of aging parents. My parents passed, and this year I heard of a music teaching job available at a public middle school. On an impulse I applied and got the job a week before school started. My husband makes a great living so money wasn’t involved, I just wanted to share my passion and give back. It has been 3 months and I gave my notice. I have had 3 meltdowns in school. I cant get out of bed in the morning and I sleep the minute I get home. I have a knot in my stomach all the time, and got diagnosed with an ulcer. I have frequent headaches. My blood pressure is up. As part of my provisional license I had to pass a basic competency exam. Naively, i assumed it was basic competency. I failed the math part, largely because there was complex geometry on it and I was unprepared. I couldn’t re- test for a month. In the mean time, a few meltdown laters and having a parent tell me I killed her child’s spirit of music, I resigned. I told the principal I would stay until the end of the semester; 4 weeks beyond the 30 day notice required. The assistant superintendent called and said that I would get cut to sub pay from the end of the 30 day notice until the end of the semester. But first I would have to get a sub license. I asked, If I don’t, what will happen to the kids’ scheduled Christmas concert? ” He said, “They’ll have some kind of concert.” Sure they will…
    My biggest complaint is I was hired to teach guitar choir and theater. I don’t play the guitar, I’ve never directed a middle school choir and I have been in a few plays, but have no knowledge of the technical aspects of theater. I was up for the challenge. I am learning, the kids are learning and we’re progressing. But, not ONCE did anyone ask me to prove my competency in the subjects I am teaching. I am 2 lessons ahead of the students in guitar! I was grossly naive to the workings of a public school system and it is awful. Mostly, because they want you to check your brain at the door and follow a rubric. My hats off to teachers who have been teaching for years despite this broken system. I hate that I am disappointing the 30 percent of kids who want to learn, have supportive parents and who are decent kids. The other 70 percent of them, who are depressed, addicted, abused, neglected, entitled, indifferent, or suffering from a multitude of psycho- social pathologic issues, I hope they get the help they need at some point in their lives. I decided not to finish out the semester. I feel sad and broken.

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  120. JCAT

    I’m currently a first-year teacher. I started a week and a half after the actual school year started. I have a BA in Anthropology and couldn’t find work as an archaeologist. Before I decided to teach, I worked in an office within my hometown’s school district which funnels federal and state funds to all the rest of our county’s school districts mostly to the SPED program. Anyway, I gave my all to this first “school” job and got rewarded with a cut in hours and in pay. I’m a single mom (Hispanic) so this was devastating. Meanwhile the white, older woman who received a stipend to clean our office (and didn’t do a good job btw), who was rude and obnoxious as well as humiliatingly judgmental of all of her coworkers (she loved insulting me especially), got to keep her stipend and hours as well as got to move into a small office. Somehow all of this was justified (I don’t know how, but it was).

    Needless to say, the only opportunity in our mono-economic societal town (oil and gas) was a teaching job. I was hired enthusiastically. After the first week I realized this was simply the stupidest decision I have ever made. I got stuck with every single ADHD/Bad attitude kid in the school (it’s more like an 95/5% for me; I would have liked an 80/20%), I have at least 5 SPED kids in each of my 6 classes as well as 7 ELL students all in one class; two Pre-AP classes. I was told by one teacher to grow a back bone; funny, before this I thought I had one. I love my kids, even the challenging ones, but the one thing I hate about this job is that my own principal has a clique in this school. I had completed a teacher observation on a teacher from another school who is considered a good teacher. I was asked by administration why I picked this specific teacher (he has a grudge against him). Really? I thought that as adults we had left the high school popularity crap behind? I guess not.

    I’m in debt right now. Student loans and stupid credit card debt for moving expenses that I haven’t been able to pay off just yet. I have at least three and at one time had 4 jobs which is hard considering that I have a now 6 year old daughter. I’m going to stick it out until the rest of this year, but I am not going back. The hardest thing for me are the stupid parents and this administration that picks favorites and a superintendent who is as big an idiot as they come. His only concern is how good he looks politically; meanwhile, the scores are bad and he wants to know why.

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  121. NoNameBecauseI'llGetFired

    Here is a summation of what I’ve experienced as a 2nd year teacher (Computer Science, CTE in Graphics, Movies, Animation…)

    1. Pay is lousy
    2. Teachers who wanted to become admins (Principals, VPs, Finance, Supers, etc.) only wanted more money. They really don’t give a crap about you, PERIOD
    3. Attendance is really what matters ~ that’s what truly brings in money
    4. Behavior issues cost money ~ money public schools don’t have, so they throw those students with issues in the regular mix as ‘Spec Eds’ and ‘504s’. Deal with it or lose your job…
    5. We work more hours than any job I’ve been in.
    6. Even if they get bad grades, you still have to ‘make adjustments’ to make the school look good; ya really. What does it matter if you can’t teach them?
    7. Overall, this is the worst job I’ve ever been in.

    So it doesn’t matter if you get summers off, holidays, etc. Working from late August to early June seems like you’ve worked 400+ days during that time! And what do you get out of that? Appreciation? Rewarding Career? Keep telling yourself that while the other people get bigger paychecks and wonder why you’re still there…

    I’m leaving this year….sorry. My solution to fix this issue: Home School or a major overhaul of the public education system.

    Reply
  122. Kevin cauto

    It happens in many schools that half of the nation’s new teachers can’t leave the profession fast enough. It may be reason of lack knowledge or may be lackness of salary.Some of thinks that it is a burden so it happens many times that teachers do not leave more in this vast profession.

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