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Novel Teacher-Retention Idea: Let Them Leave (for a While, Anyway)

In a Huffington Post column, Boston teacher Lillie Marshall says that taking a year-long leave of absence after her fifth year in teaching gave her the "renewed vigor and resources" she needed to continue in the profession and, not coincidentally, made her a much better educator. She extrapolates:

Often, what teachers need in order to stay in the classroom is permission to step out of it for a time. It gives us perspective, balance, and new skills. Whether teachers do this by taking on hybrid roles, or by a whole year's leave of absence, we educators must cultivate ourselves as whole, healthy people in order to teach our students powerfully. When Steven Brill wrote in his book Class Warfare that "good teachers never sit down," he ignored the fact that all humans need to reboot sometimes.

Marshall recommends sharing this advice with teachers who are thinking about quitting—a nice idea, no doubt. But given the lack of flexibility in many teachers' financial and employment circumstances, maybe it would be better directed, as a tip for improved educator development and retention, to district leaders and policymakers?

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