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Teachers Really Do Like Their Jobs


Low pay. Lack of support from administrators. Unsafe working conditions. These are some of the oft-cited reasons given for why many teachers are unhappy with their jobs. But the surprising results from a new report call into question long-held beliefs on job satisfaction, pay, and attrition rates.

Nine thousand graduates who received their bachelor degrees in various subjects in the 1992-1993 school year were questioned for the report. According to the study, 93 percent of teachers said they were satisfied with their jobs 10 years after entering the field. Also, only 18 percent of teachers left the profession within four years of getting their degrees, according to the data. That number is lower than attrition rates for other professionals.

How closely do the results of the study mirror the climate in your district? Are you surprised by the results? What impact will the study's results have on new teachers and those entering the field?


Of course many like their jobs ten years after entering the field because 50% have left by year 5.
Also, if you are only looking at 1992-3 graduates who have been teaching ten years, the sample does not contain any individuals with other job experience to compare teaching to.

Excuse me, how many people were surveyed, and in what subjects did they get their degrees? Were only teachers surveyed? Were all gardautes surveyed? Most states have a system that grants tenure within three to five years to teachers, which is better than the average job security in most industry. Virtually anyone that hasdone a particular job for ten years in going to be somewhat "satisfied" with that job. Teaching is a career path, a vocation. After 4+ years in a college or university and, at minimum, one semester of internship, it is unlikely that one would leave a position once it has been obtained. It is also much more difficult for a school district to simply fire a tenured teacher.

Finally, something that shows that most teachers really do love their jobs! Frankly, if you don't love teaching, you should not be doing it, because the children suffer more than the unhappy teacher. If you love teaching, but are unsatisfied with other aspects of your job, ask colleagues for help and advice--they'll be more that happy to share how they cope with issues.

Gotta tell you, the first two responses seemed a little negative to me. After five years of teaching, a relocation made it necessary for me to leave a job I loved and to take a year off. Teaching is a difficult and exhausting job. I've spent the past year temping, subbing and teaching part-time. I've also spent the year seriously considering changing professions. What I found is that subbing is BORING (and doesn't need to be if teachers are able to leave actual activities for their classes). What I also discovered is that I love teaching simply because I love the kids. If you're in it for the money and the glory, you're teaching for the wrong reasons. Plus, like everything in life, if you're unhappy, make an effort to change the situation. Mrs. L. is right. Look to colleagues. Anyone who is a teacher has considered leaving. If you stay, you should stay because you want to, not because you have to. Teaching is difficult enough, don't make it more difficult for those of us who want to be there by staying, especially if you don't want to.

The report is very vague about the methodology used to conduct the survey. The single comment about telephone, online and in person responses does not suggest a rigorous, systematic effort to obtain a representative sample.

In general, data that dramatically reverses earlier data needs to be viewed with caution until further verification is obtained.

At this point, this report seems to claim much without a great deal of back up for its claims.

I left teaching for a little bit to see what other opportunities were out there for me. I lasted one semester. I knew I was meant for teaching.
The truth of the matter is that when I made my decision to return to teaching I knew exactly what I was getting into. I had left after teaching junior high for seven years. All of the things that the teachers complain about, I was willing to accept in order to return to a profession that I love. Leaving was the best mistake I ever made. Now I know that I am meant to be an educator. I also know what I am missing out on in the so-called "real world" and that is not much.
I love what I do and will remain teaching for the rest of my life.

I tell everyone I meet, that if they can do anything else; do it! But, if they love learning and enjoy kids; there's nothing better than teaching. - I also often tell them that it is a, "Love-n-hate" relationship. - You love what you do, but you hate what it does to you (lighting up of the eyes is so rewarding; but closing up of the spirit engenders grate dissappointment). - God knows we don't do this for the money! - I'm currently working for $12.00 when I am accostomed to receiving at least $40.00 X HR. during regular school-year work. - It's not about earning a living; it's about investing in the future.

This is a very intriguing study as I investigate teacher attrition and induction programs designed to reduce the egress of instructors from the profession. I would agree that a teacher in the field for 10 years most likely would answer affirmatively to the question whether s/he "liked the job." Data gathered by the Alliance for Excellent Education (2004) indicates that fewer than 1 percent of teachers receive a comprehensive induction package. Are these 10-year veterans ones who persevered despite the lack of induction resources or perhaps were not a sole provider for a family of four, needing adequate compensation to eke out an existence? Studies suggest that new teachers are more likely to continue teaching in their schools of origin when they receive mentoring from teachers in their subject areas (Cohen 2005; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). The US Department of Education is currently conducting a large scale study on teacher induction that will be completed in 2008.
All of this information begs the question: Did the teachers who responded "yes" to whether they liked teaching after 10 years receive a more in-depth induction program at the beginning their teaching profession? Or are they simply the exception to the statistical norm?

In my experience as a teacher, who is also completing a doctorate in the field - I believe those who have several years on the job do like their work, overall. Yet over these years I have also heard various complaints made, at the same time.

These complaints include: poor principalship;
low pay; lack of teacher support and inclusion
in planning curricula - and student discipline;
lack of school supplies adequate to the level of teaching that COULD further be accomplished; and undermining of the profession by some politicians and pundits.

What concerns me is that there are numerous teachers who rapidly do leave, once they are in. Past numbers indicate that about 1/3 - 1/4 of all entering teachers leave within a couple of years.
In a related tutorial service where I also work,
I see that it is largely comprised of individuals who left the school building - and the classroom - for many reasons, including those mentioned above. IN ADDITION, The demeaning attitudes by some principals, and the difficult student behaviors left unsupervised by principals rank high among their reasons for leaving.

A survey tends to find only those who stay on the job. How can a survey account for those who left?
Were the leavers sent a survey as well? I doubt they all could be found. How would NCES find their addresses if they moved, in order to work in a different occupation? Further, how were these questions designed/ determined?

I believe the NCES survey likely found what it wanted to find. It seems to allow the government
to further bypass teachers - as people who have professional needs and standpoints that are still considered relatively unimportant.

I say take a poll of only special education teachers. Believe me the results would be different !

This "study" does seem to have a lot of gaps in how the data was gathered. Almost anyone who has been on a job for ten years is likely to say that they are satisfied to some degree with their job. Teachers, by and large, are dedicated people. Teaching is what they do. Those that do leave are not suited to the profession. Dedication to a profesion does not always mean happy with the pay, benefits, working environment, etc. Teachers are agents of change and are always striving to effect it.

I earned my undergrad degree in elementary education in 1983. In the summer of 1985 I married and was, of necessity, unable to teach because I had a ready-made family to care for. After 10 years of marriage and a few years of widowhood, I returned to teaching by taking classes to renew my license and then subbing for 3 years until a position was available. I am one of the special ed teachers that respondant "cm" suggested you poll about loving their jobs. Another reply suggested that teaching is a "love/hate" relationship, and I imagine that best describes it. I would not do well in another job...I have tried them: CNA, housekeeping, retail sales, factories, and more. Once I signed on with the special ed co-op for which I work, I seemed to lock myself into one specific field of work. I eventually got my Master's degree in Education which raised my salary somewhat, but I also have loans to pay back. My point is that I DO love my job, but I am frustrated that the pay (at least in my area) is not that great. If I were able to move to an urban school system I would be earning $5000 more per year immediately. No, it is not just about the money but considering the fact that I do NOT get a cost-of-living salary increase every year, even with a teacher's union to negotiate contracts, I seem to be on a fixed income. It becomes more frustrating to see the restrictions and expectations put on me each year in paperwork and licensing requirements. If teachers were paid even as much as babysitters, per day, per child, we would be one of the best paid industries!

I agree with many of the comments made. Teaching is certainly demanding mentally, physically, and emotionally but the rewards can be so gratifying. I have changed focus from a mainstream teacher to one who works with language learners and hope to have this job for many years to come!

It is indeed heartening to hear that teachers stay. I do agree with some of the comments that the very encouraging results could be because the survey was taken among those who stayed!
Having said that, in my country, teachers do stay, due to the stability of the job - and our worry is that those who stay stayed for the wrong reasons and may not give their best. Teachers are the biggest number of public servants ...and do have political clout as a political base.
I have been a teacher, ( still am, but teaches in university, and an academic administrator), teacher trainer, and now involved with principal training. I enjoy myself most when I'm in front of the class 'teaching'. I would agree that those who stay and are truly good teachers stay because they love the job of making students see what we want them to see.

It's ridiculous to poll people who stayed 10 years when the problem is all of the people who left. How come no one has mentioned the parents? After two years teaching, I have had enough nightmare situations that have caused me to leave teaching. In one case, this student was recommended for the low-track Algebra 1 class but took the middle-track class; I did everything I could to help him, but the net result was the mother viciously attacking me via email saying it was my fault he didn't do well and I didn't follow the recommendations made in his staffing (completely false). This year I'm going to try just tutoring and teaching at a 2-year college. As long as the parents think they can treat you like dirt (and the administrations enamble them to do so), I don't think you'll find me back in a high school classroom.

I'm stunned, astounded, by the results of this survey. Clearly they didn't speak to me or my colleagues. Yes, I'm still in teaching after 10 years, and yes, I do enjoy my job when I can actually teach. I hate my job when I'm not able to teach due to incompetent, biased, etc--the list of criticisms is endless--administrators. I finally threw in the towel with high school teaching--just several threats too many, and constant lack of support from incompetent administration. I have now taught in adult school for 6 years and can say that I enjoy teaching 75% of the time. The time I hate is spent trying to teach high school exit exam failures, or students who have passed California's ridiculously easy exit exam. These students destroy classroom atmosphere, and, since our adult school gets to inherit all the deadbeat administrators the district can't find a place for, we teachers are increasingly dealing with the problems we hoped to avoid when we chose to TEACH, actually teach, at adult school--and, as always, we are teaching without responsible back-up from directors, principals, school board members . . .

Why haven't I quit? My age-55- is a factor, as is my training. There just are not that many options out there for teachers.

A disturbing recurrent theme in education I keep running up against has to do with the unwillingness of schools to provide special education services (always under the oh-so-politically correct guise of the inclusion of atypical learners with typically developing peers). I am often also reminded of how "we aren't required to give Cadillac services," -- yet we are required to provide empirically based interventions. I support the early identification of struggling students, yet NCLB places me at odds with administrators who are often in the role of gatekeepers. RTI exacerbates this problem.
Does this impact my job satisfaction? Absolutely!
Fortunately, sensitive administrators acknowledge these issues and actively strive to support students and teachers. In my opinion, in order to create better schools we need to create more supportive systems, not more political ones.

Kim--you are so right. The antipathy toward special ed. is disturbing. If you have sensitive administrators, you are very fortunate. Alas, the majority consider special ed. a nuisance and an expense.

We so desperately need supportive systems to replace the often hostile ones we currently have. I don't know where the bright and talented administrators will come form. We don't seem to have many in the pipe-line, and when we do, they don't get promoted. In my district, incompetent administrators hire others like themselves, and once hired, they are there for decades. Truly jobs for cronies.

ESBO--Thank you. I am sad to say that most of my experience with educational administrators has apparently been similar to your own. And much of the research I have read on this topic tells me we are not alone in our experiences.

I don't believe this report. It reminds me of the toothpaste commercials that proclaim: 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed recommend brand x! I'll back my personal experience, based on years of teaching, over any survey. Nine out of ten teachers surveyed said: whatever the researcher wanted to hear.

I left teaching in the middle of my fifth year, due to the horrible environment in the elem school I had started in that year (had 4 other yrs, elsewhere, two of them difficult). My first graders fought, their parents encouraged them to fight back, I was supposed to be sure two little girls were not together so they wouldn't fight, but they'd get together in spite of it, etc. This was in a very poor, high-crime area. I followed all the advice of the counselor, other teachers, etc, but both the principal & assist. principal were unsupportive and critical. Fifteen years after getting my BA, I went back to school to get into teaching around the age of 40, and I think you have to be younger to start off, so that you have the energy to deal w/ the issues a new teacher has. I make less money, now, but I enjoy a sane, quiet, clean, corporate environment, dealing w/ adults. I have over #30K in student loans, and could get 2/3 of it forgiven if I would teach Sp Ed, which I recently became certfied in, but am thinking I should stay where I am. Schools are so different than when I was student in the 60's & 70's. I'm an intelligent and pleasant person, but I had no idea how hard it is to do everything the job entails. My hat is off to those who can do it well.

I just wanted to say--Kim, you are a jewell! We really need greater teacher (and administrative) recognition of the needs of students with disabilities--particularly by those outside of "special ed." Most students with disabilities are not cognitively disabled, and can learn, given the appropriate supports. This is very difficult to provide if they are shunted off to a "resource room," with a teacher who is responsible for teaching multiple subjects/multiple grade levels to students with a wide range of learning needs. True inclusion, with adequate supports, needs to be supported. Adminstrators need to be clear that the students with disabilities are regular ed students first--and regular ed teachers share in the responsibility. Regular ed teachers need to be supported by an adequate number of teachers qualified in special education who can provide accommodations (preferably in the regular classroom). I have heard the Cadillac vs Ford analogy, but my experience has been that student with disabilities are lucky if they get bus!

I entered teaching when I was 40 after dabbling in Adult Education as a carpentry teacher. Teaching is a LOT more demanding than I had ever imagined but, as other folks have mentioned, its all about the kids. If students know that you truly care about them and are wise enough to facilitate learning versus mainly teach, you're making real progress. Schools can be places where teachers work hard and students watch, but that's another story. It grieves me that some administrators still believe in vertical command instead of horizontal collaboration. The world is changing rapidly and if we don't finally realize we're all in this together, American schools will fall even further behind in the elusive quest for helping ALL students attain the universal skills needed for career success.

Hmmmm - I was reading an article not long ago that showed an ATPE (Association of Texas Professional Educators) survey of 2003 stating that "40% of all teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years". Would that meant that Texas teachers are unhappier than those in other states? OR that things have change that dramatically in 3 years? The survey cited the number 1 reason that teachers left was lack of student discipline. Is that still the number one reason?

I am looking at the Special Ed side at Clemson University in SC I would like to share with you some of my own thoughts about it...

A very large and detailed study and the grouping is a unique one (a educational cohort). 80 % of those who did graduate didn’t teach. 20% did teach and 10% remained in the profession in 2003. To have a 10% on a educational cohort says to me that the issue of retention is a very pressing one. It should be noted that the NCLB impact is unmeasured in this study since the implementation effects are graduated and been more recent.

It is interesting they mention grades in college in the article as academic ability measure when SAT scores showed that those who scored lower were the ones who went into the profession. This is expressed in the institutes they graduated from. Those who went to programs with masters and doc programs were less likely to remain in the profession - grades with in those programs are not appropriate measures of academic skill and it's relation to being in and remaining in the educational field.

I would also point out that the study admits that men, minorities and those teaching in urban/rural setting issues are those less likely to remain in the profession. (the original study at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/2007163.pdf). The single group they are looking at (15+yrs in the profession) are statistically the most likely to stay within the profession with the younger and older moving or retiring more frequently. They also note that those who received a undergrad over thirty yrs old were more likely to stay which supports the idea that outside factors (children, housing etc.) are major factors in determining retention (also those outside the realm of administrator control - administrator support being one that is within the realm of administrators control)

The type of educational training one receives (Special education?) , grade level one teaches (elementary, middle etc) and the issue of administrative support was never addressed or stated. How about Special Educators and those who are younger and older with in the profession? Who plans to retire early? Would they tell their own children to become teachers? The group they are looking at are statistically the most likely to stay with the younger and older moving or retiring more.

This is one part small slice of a much large body of research that needs to be placed in perspective. How effective are the teachers that are remaining and how were people ID within the study (Interview response- Would responses been different to a blind study like mine?) How can they compare different teachers from different schools to each other?

New to the teaching profession,I hope to be as passionate about teaching as J. Roth.

I have been teaching for 3 years and find it very rewarding. I enjoy what I do and hope that in 10+ years I will still be enjoying what I do. Children deserve teachers who love what they do, and who can offer them meaningful educational experiences.

I really like the feeling of accomplishment when a child learns something new!

Michele's comment that children deserve teachers who love what they do is the most meaningful comment I've seen so far from contributors. But there has to be more. To complete the thought, teachers deserve to work in an environment that is positive and supportive, and they deserve to be paid according to their value to society.

As a teacher for over 13 years, there have been many ups and downs, however it is naive to say that teachers cannot be in it for the money. Initially of course not, but after marriage, children, living expenses, lets face it money is definitely an issue for everyone, no matter what you do for a living. If you are not getting paid enough to live decently then the job isn't right. Luckily, I work in a state that pays teachers well so it hasn't ever been a major issue. But I do think you have to enjoy what you do and always look for new opportunities or ways to make it interesting, like any other job out there.

I really hate teaching lately it seems that the children have gotten so bratty and expect me to do serve them hand and foot, its just not the same anymore..they dont like me either



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