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Teacher Turnover

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A new report finds that teacher turnover cost U.S. school systems $7.3 billion during the 2003-04 school year. The report, released by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF), recommends that legislators add a teacher-retention program to the No Child Left Behind Act this year. It also suggests that districts track turnover and develop a strategy to combat it that includes investing in induction programs and encouraging new and experienced teachers to work together. "The good news is that when districts address this problem and take it on directly, when they start to invest in better-prepared teachers and offer them strong support, they can see progress," says Tom Carroll, president of the NCTAF. "It's a solvable problem."

In your opinion, what can be done to curb teacher turnover? Would a teacher retention program mandated by NCLB help? What are some effective ways officials and experienced teachers can keep teachers from leaving school districts?

39 Comments

Did you see the article in the Wall Street Journal about a first grade teacher in the Scranton, PA scahool district? She had 5 special ed students in her classroom and no aide!They ranged from ADD to totall disruptive. Each day in school was a struggle to keep order in the class, never mind teaching. She used to love teaching and now dreads going in.
Lack of support for teachers and inappropriate placement of students leads to turnover too.

Some of the most current studies indicate that teachers often leave because of a lack of support from the administration and/or poor work conditions. The educational leadership programs need to begin to address how to support teachers and discuss community-building (in the same way that teacher ed programs discuss 'creating a productive learning environment'). Certainly, induction programs have the potential to be a support for new teachers, but like going to school your first year, extra assignments that have little to do with what teachers need to do in their classrooms - tomorrow - will only add to the stress many new teachers already face. One more issue that is much bigger than all of us is teacher salaries. We need to do better than we are currently. The expectations of paperwork, long days of planning and teaching, and now inclusion without the necessary supports, makes teaching undesireable to many.

Not only is it the amount of work expected of any one teacher - especially in small rural schools where teachers wear many, many hats - but add to that excessive class sizes that include several support students without the support, and small salaries, it is difficult to continue to do what you love to do. Many teachers are in the profession because they love working with children and watching them grow - NOT to get rich. However, we would like to be paid for and get the respect we deserve. We must go to school continually just like other (in some cases more than) professionals, but are for the most part looked down upon. We do not get 3 months off and usually put in more than a 40 hour week.

I have to agree with Dee-it's the behavior disorder kids that make teaching difficult. In my district, it's the new special ed teachers who are given the self-contained "BD" classrooms to get their feet in the door. What a way to be introduced! And how can a new teacher possible be a benefit to these students?Although most of the self-contained classrooms are now being closed, many of these kids are being integrated back into regular classrooms and with the help of only part time resource teachers. I just finished getting my MAT and after subbing for the past few months in middle school (2 years in elementary before that) I have to say that NONE of my schooling prepared me for behavior disorder students. This should be a special certification all on it's own.

I think lack of admin support is a huge part of it as mentioned. But also we work in a system that is over 100 years old and has changed very little. They keep adding more requirements and restrictions on what we can and can not do and the thing missing is we are becoming a warehouse-like the prison system. And as the world becomes more global, we are not teaching for the future. There is no goal except to graduate.

And the other issue, is the absent parent.

The behavior kids that make the classroom miserable is what I'm addressing in regards to absent parents...and the system as well.

First, I think we as a country are label wear society...gotta hand out the labels in order to fit everyone into a slot...and I heard on the news that when Prozac was introduced in a year it was the highest proscribed drug! IN A YEAR...tell you anything.

But what are alternatives to the behavior issues...you have the kid, who for whatever reason, (usually its attention) who acts up, disruptive and what do we do...send them to redirect...and shuffle them through.....what messages are those....and where is the parents? where is the accountability of the student??? How do we hold it such.....in a society that celebrates only the youth culture.....regard for others is not worthy

Teachers are asked to obtain the most certification in order to maintain a job that many work extremely hard at. Many out of state teachers already qualify in that state and have been teaching for years, has great evaluations and teaching records are placed under extreme pressures to obtain another state's certification by passing a single test. These excellent teachers are not passing the test not because they are not excellent teachers but because they have been teaching in areas where they may not have applied many of the concepts found on the test (music, PE., science, and social studies 5th - 7th grade level)

These excellent teachers are then released and a new set of teachers take their places hence, the cycle continues.

The educational system needs to utilize another format to qualify these teachers. I have watched too many of these superb, caring out of state teachers dismissed, and replacced by "Highly Qualified" teachers most of them can't begin to measure up to these out of state teachers.

If this practice continues the educational system will always experience huge turnover.

I haven't seen anything that addresses the costs that school district incur when they let teachers go in the spring, pay teachers unemployment for the summer, and then rehire them again in the fall! All because the state legislature can't pass an education funding bill before pink slips are due...year after year.

This happened to me several years in a row. This seems to be commonplace for teachers who aren't yet tenured or are in programs that may be cut because of funding issues. I'll admit, it was nice to have some extra cash in the summer from unemployment, but I'd have rather known that I had a job.
So...how much does THIS practice cost school districts?! - not only in uncmployment costs, but also to replace teachers who find a job elsewhere.

I actually tried researching this for a public policy class in graduate school and didn't get far because it got so complicated so quickly! Even the Dept. of Employment and Economic Development in my state (MN) didn't have clear statistics on this.

It seems to me that if states could settle on education funding early in their spring sessions, much of this waste (and stress of not knowing whether one has a job or not) could be avoided.

Why do teachers leave? I think it is because of ridiculous demands on their time, little thanks, and little respect.

At our school, the morale is very low. Why? The only thing we can point to is the administration. There is no support, only demands and more demands. No respect. Hollow thank yous. And, our district is considered "excellent" and among the "best" in our state. All this and we do it for less than all the others.

All of the teachers at our school work hard and we have done our best to help the students achieve. Yet, no matter what we do, we are treated as if we are a school that is failing. More, more, more time is demanded.

Teachers are looking to leave as soon as they can get away. The sad thing is, we love our kids, we love to teach, we believe we have a mission. However, if we aren't having the same vision as the administrators, we are devalued. It is really sad.

These are my views on helping teachers through their first year, a crucial year in the teacher's career.
To stave off teacher turn-over, a school leadership team must appeal to the basics of human beings' needs. Each teacher needs to have these things expressed, implemented,and felt in the school life: love, cameraderie, sense of clearly stated mission, sense of accomplishment, a shoulder to lean on, fun, rewards for good work.
When a new teacher comes into a new school, the teacher should come in with a team or cluster of three, four or more people. The orientation, first days on the job and early activities should be done with this cluster. The group should be appointed a mentor who has been provided some released time to work with the cluster all year long--helping them to prepare lessons, looking in on the teachers' classes, helping them to understand how to do grades and records, prepare for parent conferences, undestand the psychology of the parent, de-briefing and note taking aafter the parent conference, handling the hard to handle child, classroom disruptions and especially during sudden crises that come like unexpected bumps in the road.
Objectives for the school, for the grade level and for the subject matter should be clearly stated, rehearsed, discussed and clearly understood by each of the new rookie teachers in the cluster.
Within the orientation, each of the cluster members should be encouraged to state his/her "I message," a "Who I am" presentation to the others and to the mentor so that each member of the cluster begins to put him/herself into the school. I messaging before colleagues who listen respectfully is the way that a teacher begins toput his/her mark into the school--like animals maarking their territories. A teacher who feels like she/he belongs, will work harder at the group objectives of the school.
Meanwhile each of the others should be asked to listen attentively and respectfully to the others' presentations. This is one of the beginning steps toward building the cameraderie needed to build a successful cluster.
Within the orientation, the group should work on problem solving and challenging things together, building up to a sense of accmplishment within their new school setting.
Built into the orientation should be free time for the cluster members to share, to work individually on setting up their classrooms with the mentor's help and praise, and to mingle with their new colleagues at the school--lunchroom staff, maintenance, engineering, coaches, teachers, volunteers, front office people, specialty teachers, and administration.
On a daily basis, the mentors should meet with the teacher cluster for the first two weeks; after that weekly for the first semester, and thereafter every two weeks and/or on call. At each grading period or special school event, the cluster should be called toegether in order to fully understand the event, what is expected of them and some of the bumps that may occur. Fore-warned is fore-armed.
At every Faculty meeting and in-service gathering, a part of the agenda should be set so that each of the new people is getting the fullness from these professional activities that they need.
Praise along with corrections should be given at each step of the road, with special attention given to critiquing people not with the idea of destroying their spirit. Correction and critiquing can be done with encouragement, with showing a path through the difficulty, and with the spirit of HOPE that every human being needs to see themselves through a tough bump in the road.
Because there are comfort or friendship groups long established in every school, each new teacher should be invited to at least look into such a group, invited to participate and to get their warm feelings of belonging. A teacher new to a challenging situation such as teaching needs to have provided for them a feeling of welcome not only to the larger school comunity but also to the smaller groups within the whole community. As Richard Pryor once said, "everyone needs to be somewhere."
To prevent new teacher slippage from the larger objectives of the school, and to prevent a new teacher from slipping backward in some of the mountainous detail work connected with the profession, extra help the first year will need to be provided. Very few new people pick up everything and keep up with everything the first year. Mentors, grade level colleagues and other cluster members must be on the lookout for the cluster member who starts to fall behind. At that point, extra help is needed and must be provided.
Through timely and effective shore-up methods to help each person stay up with the group, the mentor and the cluster will achieve two things: 1. make the cluster member feel supported (a rookie's big need when in a new place and before the rookie starts to panic); 2. keep a cluster member from falling behind and then shorting other important parts of the overall objectives for the year.
Joy, spontaneous gatherings and celebrations both for "reason" and for "no reason" should be established through the year. Laughter, dumb jokes, as well as "groaners" are needed too.
Shared experiences, recountings of same with special terminolgy and code words to "fry" these experiences into the cluster's minds should be allowed and encouraged. Clever cluster members, feeling free to express themselves, will take care of that on their own.
Hopefuly, a log entered at least weekly, of the first year should be encouraged by all cluster emembers; perhaps ocassionally each could be invited to share these written log sketchings.
Quarterly, there should be a meeting over dinner for the new cluster members and their mentor to simply sit down, eat together, put their feet up, let their hair down (and all the other cliches that fit here) and laugh and share.
Custer mentors should keep a log too of what works and what does not work, a record of the progress, weak points that need help, corrections and critiques used and those which were/are successful and which not. This record will help for the years to come.
At the close of the year, the cluster member should be reminded to send a warm thank you to their mentor thanking the person in detail for the help during the year. We need to strongly and truthfully encourage our mentors too. They are the key to the whole teacher retention process.
And, that's all the news from Lake Woe-Be-Chased.
Bob Keeley, Chicago

I believe that the main reason for teacher turnover is student behavior. The demands of coping with many high needs students in one classroom are overwhelming. Regular and Special Ed. students that constantly interrupt learning should be placed in special classrooms. Teachers have so much pressure to help student achieve standards, but then they are placed in classes environments that make learning very difficult.

High class sizes caused by shrinking school funding are also issues.

Yes, teachers need mentors - high quality mentors. Teachers who know what good instruction and classroom management looks like. Teachers who are using research based best practices. Teachers who know how to model effective instruction and who have resources that they are willing to share.

Another problem is the requirement that beginning teachers continue to take classes. These classes are very expensive! How can beginning teachers, who probably already have significant student loan debt, pay for these classes. High quality professional development that addresses the needs of these new teachers would be a better way to support teacher development.

But, again, the extreme difficulty of coping with several disruptive students can drive anyone out of a career in education.

Hello Everyone,
I am getting ready to be a new teacher (Special Education). The greatest concern I have is that those of us who are pre-service teachers, seem to have as many challenges and behavioral issues as those of whom we are expecting "to educate." I am in a cohort of about 50 students and the social skills class that we were required to take was almost meaningless because we were the worst offenders toward each other. As far as inclusion, how can we as special education and general education teachers teach something we have a hard time embracing? I've taken several classes and when it comes to team projects, Asian and older adults always seemed to be grouped together by default. I am also very concerned as to why it seems as if our universities and colleges have done little to align the curriculums of special and general education given the diverse nature of our classrooms and the mandates/laws governing inclusion. Right now, most students in higher education don't have the same "hang ups" as our predecessors regarding behaviorism vs. constructivism and whole language vs. phonics. If it involves a combination, so be it. All we know is that we are alarmed at the rate of which we are still seeing kids going into the second grade who are reading a primer level book at 20-27 words per minute and students in middle school who can't multiply or divide. Yes, we could blame it on the parents, the school, society, etc. but... Please help us!!!

I appreciate the opportunity to voice my opinion on this matter.
I believe one’s determination to be an effective teacher is probably one of the least understood objectives by the school’s administration, parents, the community at large, and even the local, state, and federal government. Teaching continues to carry a stigma for its founding days, where it’s seen as a costly drain upon the working men and women to pay someone to contain children until they are able to accomplish that which they should be able to learn on their own.
Today’s professionals in the field of education should appreciate that the survival of our nation’s standard of existence in the world experiencing an ever accelerating global perspective is completely dependent upon the successful instruction and development of today’s youth. This nation will not have a second chance to repeat the next 10- 15 years of academic failures.
Therefore, immediate action is needed in the following areas: (1) parental responsibility for their children; it is crucial that all children have their parents play an active and supportive role in the establishment of ethics, manners, and behavior that should be conducted among their peers, parents, law enforcement, elders in the community, and their teachers. (2) Student accountability is absolutely essential in order to ensure higher coursework standards are achieved and consequences are forth coming when performance is withheld by the student. (3) Swift and proper discipline is essential when students are not observing rules and protocol established by the classroom teachers and their administration. (4) The school administration should always support the teacher, and serve as an arbitrator if the parent seeks another position, but only after the administration clearly understands both sides of any issue. (5) The certification and licensure process should be more streamlined for industry and business professionals who chose to enter the teaching profession, and more tuition funding should be provided for teachers when seeking enrichment courses or their master’s degree. (6) Finally, as was previously mentioned all schools should adopt a mentoring program, which provides high quality support for the any new teacher in a school system- whether a first time teacher, or a transfer teacher to a new school system. And high quality support implies initial orientation instruction, ongoing week-to-week support, and follow up meetings on a regular basis.
Teaching in today’s climate requires a critical look at each of these points if the next generation is going to acquire the skills necessary for survival in a global environment.

One of the big reasons for teacher turnover is the time involved to do the job correctly and the lack of respect given to us as professionals. No one would think of making a medical appointment and just not showing up, but I can't tell you the number of times that parents have failed to show for previously scheduled conferences that they requested. And the paperwork is not just a burden--teachers are getting buried in it. At our school, we have to write goals annually and keep a record of what we do to achieve them, we have to keep a log of parent contacts and a log of extra hours we work and a log of discipline issues. By the time I do all the paperwork that is required by my job, I barely feel like creating the duplicate copies of lesson plans and entering the grades into the grading program on the computer. So, why are teachers leaving the profession? Because we are doing the work of at least three people and lack respect from our administrators as well as from our parents.

I have transferred to another school because of my former principal--he was very vicious towards all of his staff. Everyone tried to go through "the chains of command" only to hit the cement administrative ceiling. Now that he knows how everyone truly feels about him, he's still free to continue the hostility--with a vengence!

Some of the other problems why teachers leave are:

1. Inept principals and/or administration.

2. Missing parents--there should be a law
requiring parents to attend at least 1 parent-
teacher conference per year. All businesses
should be forced to let parents take time off.
A contract should be written up with three
signatures: teacher, principal and parent and/
or guardian. Those not in attendance should
face some type of legal action. Special
clauses should be written for school
personnel so that they can also attend their
own child's conferences.

3. Too many professional development classes! My
huge urban school district has gone overboard!

4. Due to emphasis on state testing, only core
instructors are given extra stipends. Elective
teachers like myself are left out--and many
times I have been REQUIRED to teach information
from core classes! Oftentimes, kids are just
"thrown" into our classrooms.

5. Paperwork is going to be a breeze at my new
school because I was smothered in it at my
last one! Believe it or not, 95% was required
by the principal to make HIMSELF look good! In
actuality, all that paperwork wasn't necessary.

6. Discipline--I personally like zero-tolerance.
If a student misbehaves time after time, send
him/her to a special school for the remanider
of the year--not for 30 or 60 days. Students
will "get the hint" very quickly.

7. Good teacher mentors. My friend's mentor was a
joke! Although he is an good teacher and
employee, he was lazy when it came to paper-
work. Well, at least he was honest when he
explained it to her...

8. Pay. Only the "Good Lord" will be able to make
a way for me to afford my first home...and HE
will! My state is in the lower brackets when it
comes to teachers' paychecks. Housing isn't so
expensive, but our property taxes is one of the
highest in the U.S.

9. Although I'm still iffy about our new
superintendent, he gets kudos for cutting out
lots of "fat" top administrative jobs and pour-
ing the money back into teaching. I'll see
what happens during this next school year.

10. While I don't mind Special Education
students in my classroom, principals should
require aides to escort/attend class with
behaviorally-challenged kids at ALL times.
From past experience, all it takes is just
one--but I've had more than that--what a
nightmare! Inclusion is a good thing, but
the laws have gone a bit too far in this
particular area.

Thanks for allowing me to state my views. I feel better already!


Retaining teachers? First: stop blaming the teacher when kids fail. The pop culture of today works against education. Teachers have no support from administrators and often times parents. The responsibility to learn lies with the student. Noe excuses.

Secondly, stop adding social work to the teachers work day. A teacher cannot solve the problems of the world, society, bad families, emotionally, cognitively, and socially challenged kids, etc. They are there to teach, not act as psychologists, parents, or social workers.

Third, remove disruptive kids from the classroom. If there are to be expensive programs set in place, create an alternative ed program for those kids who won't or can't learn in a classroom setting. Stop penalizing kids who are trying in order to meet some irrational PC standard of "inclusion."

Teacher assaults are inexcusable on any level. A child who attacks a teacher should be removed permanently from any classroom setting after the first offense. Stop ignoring violence and disrespect: the kids get the message that it means teachers don't count and are easy targets.
Consequences have to be in place for behavior and performance.

Virtually all public schools are organized in a completely opposite fashion to these ideas, and that is why there is such a high teacher turnover rate. People enter the teaching profession because they want to be professionals and teach, not to be policemen, babysitters, and victims of abuse. Until administrators and law makers open their eyes to what is really happening in public schools, the quality of the schools and "teachers" will continue to plummet.

Teacher turnover is caused by many problems. Pay, Support, Accountability Requirements, etc. I have read every response, I am sorry that some of you feel that your administrators don't support you. Please understand that we too have our hands tied. I believe that the cure for the teacher recruitment and retention would be to have educators make policy and procedural changes of school reform and not politicians. Thanks for all that each and everyone of you for the children under your care, it is a calling,be proud.

As a new teacher who just did a freefall from corporate America, I am absolutely stunned at what it takes to be a teacher. The education is enjoyable but fascinating that the professors do not model what they are teaching us. As I wrap up my education and licensure exam I dive into the job market to find that I must now fill out a 10 page application for every district and every job I want to apply for. Call me crazy but I am not interested in typing my transcripts into multiple forms. This without even an interview. Idea: A universal application you can link to or paste into an online form. We are talking hours of time savings. Lastly, the money thing is depressing. All I can think of is we have to stop aying "we don't do it for the money". Although this is predominantly true, we can't keep telling folks it is alright to pay us a ridiculous low wage for a job that is worth big money. Reform has been going on 100 years and no progress has really been made. The largest group of people here are the teachers and the teachers have the power to change things (strength in numbers). Despite my issues, I am so excited to get started in my new career. But my fear is I am going to run into the same obstacles (money grubbing and deception) in the world of education as I did in corporate America.

Teaching can be a wonderful career if there is a good staff to work with, and administrators who came to that job because they care about students and teachers and bettering the community. In my opinion, if we try to make school run like a corporation, then we are destroying the most valuable part of education. A business has a bottom line - profit. With the NCLB Act we are giving education a bottom line - high test scores. No matter what is being said, it all boils down to high test scores. That is why teachers are quitting.
We are judging teachers by that bottom line result, and students are unpredictable in their response. Teachers are being held responsible for student response, even though the response may be affected by so many other outside influences. Under our current system the teacher cannot acknowledge this to herself even. She is too busy trying to get the demanded result. We might say this is an excuse, but it is a fact. If a child comes to school hungry, he will not be able to concentrate. For a good, conscientious teacher, caring about the student person, is the bottom line. When you take that away by setting up some superficial data goal, teachers will quit. Teaching is seeing the light in the eye of a student that just understood something. Teaching is not just a job, it is a vocation. We may have academically brilliant people in the classroom, but the real teachers will have quit, and the best of education will be gone, unless we stop pressuring teachers. Education is not a Corporation!

It is interesting that the successful programs cited in the study overlap only partially with most of the concerns cited above. Among the strategies that were successful were:
1) Ensuring well-prepared teachers were hired (through earlier hiring, pre-service training, transferring successful teachers from other buildings)
2) Strong induction programs (going beyond simply assigning a mentor to ensure a student learning focus as well as work toward building a collaborative teaching environment, and limited number of preparations for first year teachers)
3) Some minimal attempt to address pay issues (one district moved teachers in the targetted high-needs districts up one one pay level, Benwood provides housing and/or schooling subsidies)

Issues that are mentioned here that did were not addressed in the schools studied (although the outcomes of reducing turnover and increasing school effectiveness were achieved) include: students with disabilities, parent support, paperwork reduction.

It would appear that there were some key factors were significant--collection and analysis of data, willingness of administration and teaching staff to do things in a different way, and some start-up funding (easily replaced in subsequent years by the reduction in turnover costs). I point these things out because frequently teacher (union) insistance on maintaining a status quo stands in the way of reform. Benwood was able to exchange well-performing teachers in suburban districts with less-well performing teachers in an urban district due to some unique political factors not always supported by teachers. One is the availability of value-added data (derived from standardized testing) and the classroom/teacher level. Another is a county level school district. In most cases, transferring teachers from building to building based on anything but seniority and teacher preference is problematic.

Some of the qualities that contribute to strong induction programs (limiting the number of preparations for a first year teacher) are also affected by current teacher-supported policies. Essentially, new teachers get what is left after more senior teachers have first choice--frequently the largest or most difficult classes, the most disabled, and the foundational courses (which have the highest need of experienced teachers for student success), as well as some of the odd bits (lunchroom, playground or bus duty--classes outside of certification, etc).

Maintaining seniority systems has also been shown in many urban systems to contribute to late hiring of new teachers--leading many who would prefer to teach in an urban district to accept earlier-offered positions in the suburbs.

Certainly the focus of the publication is to point out that changing the reality is well within our grasp. I have to wonder if allowing a greater infusion of administrators with business experience mightn't have helped to avoid the situation in the first place.

As a BTSA mentor and site coordinator for almost a decade, I applaud mentorship programs...however nothing is an insidious as the bad administrations we as teachers fall under...I am at a loss to even begin to comment on what can be done. I do know that I have experienced the disconnect that comes when teachers move forward into administration and forget the support and nurturing we teachers need in the classroom!

This is such a multi-layered problem. Societal problems (missing parents, latchkeys, gangs, media/TV, etc.) exist and lead to both political (NCLB, DOE appointees whom have never taught, state legislators who mean well but don't KNOW education or children, etc.), and familial problems (abuse, divorce, poverty, daycare, etc.) leading to behavior and learning problems from the kids (IEP-related, anger-driven, hungry, etc). The overall educational system is in DIRE need of reform in so many areas: differentiation of instruction, accountablilty without tears (frustrational and emotional), better mid-level management professionalism (building administrations, school district managers), and OUR demanding to be considered PROFESSIONALS in all areas of society, not just in our "world" of education. Enough with the rhetoric and pity voiced about our low pay! It's time WE take charge and reorganize this field, since everyone else's efforts continue to fall so markedly short.

Teachers leave because of the absence of support from adminstrators. A Professor-Emeritus at Georgia College and State University stated in an article during the legislative debate about abolishing teacher tenure, that "good" teachers do not go into adminstration. While there may be exceptions, as there are to every rule, my experience leads me to agree with this statement.

As a veteran teacher, many (truthfully most)of the administrators with whom I've worked have little or no skill in business management. They are often petty and resentful of effective teachers and cannot control their personal biases. For instance, a school principal questioned me about a notable book written by an American author asking,...you're supposed to be teaching English, why are you teaching this?" This was done in a parent conference and only one that has experience such ignorance can empathize with my embarrassment.

Further, if a teacher has a love for children and they respond in kind, it ignites resentment. Such a teacher in an environment that fosters mediocrity can ignite students' desire to learn and they perform at levels previously unexpected by those in charge. Doing so, however, sets the teacher as a target, especially if the principal has been able to use ineffective teaching as the reason for students' lack of achievement. The teacher runs the risk of being characterized as "arrogant" if his/her classes are successful and every effort is made to undermine that success.

It is my opinion that those seeking administrative posts should be required to take more rigorous classes such as those seeking an MBA. Perhaps completion of these classes will enhance their confidence, weed out the worst illiterates, and affirm that successful schools are those where the bottom line (Students) have made the most gain.

How about giving back some of our autonomy? I am frustrated with policy makers, who have no experience working in the education field, telling us what to teach and how to teach. We do have our teaching credential- most of us jumped through many hoops these days to earn it. Therefore, we are NCLB compliant and considered "highly qualified". It is really insulting to make us jump through all these hoops and then give us a a "teacher-proof" scripted program to tell us how to teach. Then why did we have to get a credential again if anybody can just pick up that teacher's guide and teach.

Has anyone read about the Aspen "think tank" recommendation for the pending NCLB reauthorization that teacher efficacy (and subsequent consequences, good or bad) be officially tied to the outcome of high-stakes testing? I will guess that this will not help retain teachers nor solve other on-going problems in the profession.

Here is the current situation in our county: Teachers in our community (who,by the way, cannot afford to live in the county in which they teach) cannot be assured that their professional recommendations for placements of behaviorally disordered students will have the same weight as parental preference. Even teachers who properly collect and report co-teacher or assistant-witnessed data and anecdoctal information on such misplaced students cannot breach that "concrete administrative ceiling." That ceiling is plastered with IEPs backed with parental threats to sue if their child is not in the general classroom. In such situations, the learning experience, no, let me be clear, the outcome of the end-of-year test for those classrooms is in jeapordy. Teachers then have no opportunity to effectively say "I told you so" when end-of-year test results point glaringly to that one student's effect on the classroom learning environment. Although teachers and most administrators privately understand internal and external factors that influence test results, there remains a distinct aura of failure around those teachers who have an uncertain percent of student failure relative to other "effective" teachers. The internal, eternal educator question, "Am I sure I am doing everything I can do as a teacher?", unfortunately, is the question that others in the educational community silently wonder. This is only one stressor.

Add these duties: collecting ongoing, twice-a-quarter curriculum-based assessment scores during already too-short planning blocks for submission to administration; written analysis of said scores (not just planning and delivering needed adjustments to what one is teaching); reports of documented progress or non-progress for students either supported by IEPs or who are deemed "struggling" and thus likely to fail (read average-achieving, uninterested in academics, or more interested in texting their next meeting at the near-by pricey-chic coffee shop); working with struggling parents of any student; attending various after-school activities, not because one is supporting a student or students, but because not attending activities is perceived as a lack of school/community interest; being sure one is communicating often horizontally and vertically across grades while reading and quickly responding to all of the other communications,...do not forget grading papers, maintaining up-to-date computerized AND paper grade books, developing differentiated lesson plans, and oooh, teaching, and all the other time-consuming social/legal details one must attend to if one is not just a general education teacher, but a special education teacher...

In my opinion, NCLB and almost all other legal garrots have unwittingly served to stifle learning. Tying one test to rate teacher success is as logical as tying one test to rate student success. I am blessed with choice of careers but I am cursed with the desire to teach children. It is, after all, fun! I am now going back to studying for one of two "jump through another hoop" summer classes in which I am enrolled, and I am going to think about ways to take care of my family and myself as well as two new mentee teachers...

Teachers leave because they are overworked--they serve too many students in too many classes plus deal with parents, paperwork, grading, and preparation after school, at night, and during weekends since insufficient time is built into the school day accomplish these essentials. Hence, their personal and family lives are put under strain. When the stress of working with chronically disruptive students (and not all of them are special ed. students)who make learning difficult for everyone around them and meager pay are added to the heavy workload, teachers (especially the young ones) often decide to leave the profession.

Solutions? High school teachers need a planning period for each period they teach, class size should be capped at 22, and salaries should be raised. With these improvements, we could work more closely and meaningfully with each of our students and their families and achieve greater financial security. I could say more but will stop here.

In my district one of the biggest problems I see is that administrators take advantage of new teachers. Many are bullied into doing special projects and attending extra meetings and threatened to not make waves by administrators. Often the things they are doing violate our contract, but they are told early on to "stay away from" certain teachers (ie. Union Reps). I have heard of several young female teachers in another building that were so badly harassed by the administrator during the first year (or two for one stubborn lady) that they left the profession, not just the district. I'm starting to think that teachers also need to be taught how to handle bullies.

for Marie: What you need to do is pack up and get out of the suburbs. In my urban district parents who know that their child has a legal right to education in the Least Restrictive Environment don't have a prayer. And since the district freely dispenses misinformation, most parents don't know. I have fought for years to determine services based on my student's needs and to have the services determine the environment. Those foxy teachers and administrators think that the resource room is a service. When pushed they will justify this with appropriately legal language. It doesn't matter that the real reason is that they aren't into inclusion, and no one gets it. It's either sink or swim in regular ed with no services, or special ed with watered down content (guess what--the kids can't pass the tests!).

Teachers can afford to live in my district, but mostly they don't--because they don't want their children going to school here.


I received my M.Ed. in 2005 and worked for one year as a public school teacher. I was hired to work in an elementary school - and assigned to the third grade. There wre approximately 100 students split into 4 classes. Seventeen of those students had an IEP. As the newest teacher in the school I was give the largest caseload! None of those seventeen were working at grade level - and all were in the full-inclucion third grade classrooms. I was expected to serve all of their needs and meet all of their individual goals as I traveled from classroom to classroom. Two of these students were autistic and three others had severe physical handicaps, each of whom required constant attention and assistance in order to function in the classroom. I had one Aide, who was assigned to one of the autistic children by the administration, due to his parents' extremely vocal and prolific public and private advocacy.
My mentor answered every question I asked by sending me to someone else - who invariably then sent me to someone else.
My supervisors - the Special Education Director and the School Principal - acted as if every question I asked them was irrelevant and gave me vague answers if they answered me at all. I was then downgraded on my review for not doing as they would interpret the job function. My Special Education Director outright lied on my review, and would not revise her words, even when the Instructional Support teacher wrote a letter to her supporting my work and what I had actually done.
Parents expected the teachers to solve all of the children's problems, and did not support the learning process at home. Some called every day to discuss their child's progress, and expected specialized lessons and transcribed classroom notes for their child in every subject.
The administration expected the Special Educator to provide an individualized lesson for each special education student directly linked to his/her IEP goals, in each of five subjects every day. In providing these individualized lessons, I was limited to making 800 copies each month. This was to include all of the specialized materials that needed to be provided for these lessons, and for the physical handicaps of the students - such as enlargements of all printed materials used in the classroom for a visually impaired student.
I had a new job lined up by March, and I left the public school system as soon as my initial contract year had ended. I am still teaching in the private sector - and love my job. I enjoy going to work every day, and look forward to a long career as a Special Educator.

I feel that the programs like BTSA are doing the opposite of what they are intended to do. As a new teacher who has taught for the last two years, I have seen the frustration among fellow teachers who are very upset and frustrated with the endless amounts of paperwork that is supposed to "support" us as educators. I taught science in an inner city school, where the turnover rate for teachers is high. The consensus among educators where I worked who were involved with the BTSA program expressed an overwhelming amount of dissatisfaction and frustration with the program.
As a BTSA teacher, I have remained loyal to my students, working extremely hard to ensure they receive excellent lesson plans. I have also received commendable evaluations from my administration, but yet, because I forgot one piece of student work to attach as evidence, I cannot clear my credential? Now, I have to repeat another year of the BTSA program at my own cost because I forgot some small piece of evidence which has hindered me from completing the BTSA program. I am now so frustrated and so upset, that I have decided to leave public education, in order to teach in a correctional facility; where, apparently crime does pay. Here, I will have more personal autonomy and less bureaucracy to deal with. It is no wonder why we have a huge teacher shortage in California. Not only do we have one of the most, if not the most, stringent Credential Program in America, but, we now have a tedious two year program to pass. I agree that beginning teachers need support, but, BTSA is not the answer. Not only is it a huge waste of tax dollars, but, a burden on our educational system. It has driven me and other teaching professionals alike out of the school system.
Sadly, another long term sub will gladly take my position, who, most likely does not hold a science degree and will administer endless amounts of mundane paperwork to the students who will no doubt copy them from each. All of this while the long term sub sits at his desk and surfs the net and the kids learn nothing. Given the endless amounts of hoops I have had to jump through; I am officially burnt out. BTSA has succeeded in taking time away from my students, while investing it into some ineffective program that is no doubt, hurting the profession rather helping it. Remember, the teacher shortage is not because of pay, or lack of support, but because of endless, laborious tasks that have if anything helped sustain the demand for qualified teachers.

Many of us who love teaching in my city are leaving as soon as we can for primarily 7 reasons: (1)mountains of redundant paperwork from in school adminstration, from district, state and federal sounces that has to be done on my time because there is no other time in which to get it done; (2)being made responsible via district, state and federal testing for the learning of individual students when no responsibility or sanctions are placed on the student or his/her parents for the learning or lack thereof; the old saw "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink" continues to be true in education as well as other areas of life (3)expectations of getting required continuing education credits on my own time taking away precious time from my family life; (4)being treated by the individual school and district administration as though we are recalcitrant children while requiring more and more of us (5)lack of respect and daily support by school and district adminstration, by colleagues, by parents, the general public and the media for the job we do preparing future workers and citizens; (6) mainstreaming of students with major behavior problems who destroy the learning environment for others, who injure, harass and threaten physical harm to the teachers and other students, whose parents blame the teacher for any and all problems, whose behavior problems are blamed on the teacher's lack of classroom management skills and for whom there is no recourse but occasional suspension after some outrageous infraction of school rules; (7) and the low pay, miserly health benefits and the low retirement benefits for what may be the most difficult job an individual will ever attempt to do.

If IBM, ExxonMobil or any other corporation attempted to fill a position with a teacher's realistic job description and pay scale, they would have great difficulty if they could fill it at all. Yet, state legislators, senators and congresspersons, lobbists and corporate executives all of whom enjoy secretaries, staff, more health and retirement benefits and much higher pay routinely pressure and vote for more work and more responsibility for teachers and fail to raise the pay for the job. Demanding more and more and more work for the same pay and failure to substantually improve working conditions are sure ways to see that the truly best qualified teachers will leave teaching for another job.

I have said for years that no meaningful education reform will take place until each state legislator, senator and congressperson is required to teach for 2 weeks in an innercity school meeting the same marks as the regular teacher and without any support staff like any other teacher. It is only after these persons have walked 2 miles in a teacher's shoes that they can make informed decisions about education reform.

It may be true that "you can lead a horse to water..." but it is in the nature of the horse to drink when thirsty. If confronted with a dehydrated horse, would you assume that the horse refused to drink, or that there was a problem with the water supply?

I taught for 20 years and for ten years have been a principal at both middle and elementary schools. Over the years I have "seen everything." A great many of our parents have gone from supportive discipliarians to excuse making, "My child does no wrong" martyrs or fit throwers. While half of any given staff are hard working educators who love their job, their students, and the curriculum, the other half can be found sending e-mails, talking on their cell phones, piling worksheet upon worksheet on their students, having no prepared lessons, no actual teaching or trying to use a variety of teaching strategies that motivate and educate their students.I can't tell you how many times a substitute has called me into the classroom to show me that there are no lesson plans to follow.

It's not just teachers who are fleeing the education field. Site administrators are leaving in droves. Talk about not being supported! Unhappy teachers, parents, and undisciplined students on one side, constantly falling or barely increasing scores on another side, and on the third side of the triangle are the district administrators demanding more and more reports and nailing the site administrators for poor scores. In the middle of that triangle is the site administrator being pulled from every side, trying so hard to keep the site well maintained, supply teachers with all they need, feeling guilty for not being able to be in the classrooms, not being able to spend quality time with teachers,etc.,trying to support teachers by suspending, transferring, or expelling unruly students only to have decisions reversed by hen-pecked district admininistrators. I'm sure district administrators could vent about all the problems they face in their jobs as well.

The bottom line is that we are faced with a task that has seemingly insurmountable odds. We have students who deserve educators who are determined to be the master of their own morale, who continuously strive to bring into the school and the classroom the very best lessons, taught using a variety of strategies, and most importantly, a can do attitude.

Reading all the entries here has at least made me feel like I am not the odd duck in the pond anymore.
I have spent the last two years hating a job that I never considered a job. Teaching was a calling for me, and it was something that I was naturally good at. I once loved this profession, and now feel quite saddened that it is over, as I just cannot do another year.

Hey, Mom Margo! Long time no see. We met on this same site but on the question about NCLB. Listen, I know we all like our anonymity to a certain degree, but could you at least give me an idea of where you are getting these ideas of yours? Is there a particular publication or book you have been reading?

Almost every single person here has listed the correct reasons for teacher turnover and you're asking whether the horse was dehydrated or if the water was bad. News flash! It's an idiom about not being able to make someone do something if they simply don't want to. However, to answer you're question about what I would do if a horse came to me and was dehydrated, I would be calling the local Children Services Board and reporting the owner.

Keep teachers happy? That isn't hard too do. Let them teach, and keep the "chat and chew" activities in the evenings for parents out of the educational process.

Right now, many teachers are extended well beyond there means with lack of time. If the teacher has children, that problem becomes an organization of multiply jobs.

When the supervisor requests that a teacher ignore their own children for positive morale with parents, that becomes a problem. Teacher develop morale every day with children and continued interactions with the child's learning. It doesn't require extra hours late in the evening to prove to someone you are noteworthy. It is what you do every day in the classroom that makes you exceptional. Staying until 9 PM for a meeting every month only proves you have no life and definitely ready for burnout.

Where in the NCLB does extra meetings for "parent stroking" mean success learning for our clients-the children? Please help me understand this, because I am at a loss.

I think NCLB should set statutes that would limit other duties on off hours. One parent night might be appropriate. That is it. We do so much already on our time, that we don't need more mandatory events to make us 'look' good.

Even though I have been teaching about 25 years in three different states, the school district I am in, as close as it is to DC, should respect the thoughts of blogs and comment postings of teachers. I am more tired this year that I have ever been as my planning period, time before and after school, has come under fire in that my principal exercises her rights to add meetings whenever she feels she needs to...

NCLB should limit the use of the teachers time to instructional purposes of the children not parents. If done, we would have more time to rest and enjoy our children more!

I am in my 1st year of teaching and I don't want to come back next year because of BTSA (California's induction program) and too little pay. I know I'm a 1st year teacher and everyone wants to quit their first year, but after doing the math, I figured out that I only take home $12.50 an hour (not including health insurance, Union dues, etc.). I average 50 hours of work per week (at home and in the class). That divided into the $2500 a month is $12.50 an hour. I made 3 times that much waitressing before I got my credential. Sure I worked on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, but I could be a tutor or work at Target and make more. I LOVE my students, and I LOVE teaching - if only that were all I had to do. And feeling good about making a difference in society doesn't pay the bills. I don't need to be rich, but I'd like to at least be able to make a decent wage for all the work and time teaching takes.
This whole BTSA thing is the biggest waste of time and money I have ever seen so far in the education system. There are so many assignments that are exactly like what I did to get my credential. But now I have a real teaching job. I thought getting my credential meant something, but it doesn't. Finishing BTSA is the thing that will let you have your credential. If I'd know it would take 4 years for my BA, 1 year for the credential, and 2 for BTSA, I would have become a school psychologist (they make double, only have a masters = BA + 1 year vs. BA + 3 years of credential and BTSA) or gotten my PHD to teach college (they make 70,000 or more and work 15 - 20 hours a week). Anyway...I would have thought about a lot more options. Sorry to say that I probably won't return to the elementary teaching profession after this year.

P.S. Where does BTSA get its statistics? They say 50% of teachers quit within the first 5 years, but 97% of those who participate in BTSA stick with teaching. BTSA has only been around for 3 or 4 years - and how can this be true if everyone I know thinks BTSA is the biggest waste of time?

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