Teachers have a tough job. They regularly work extra hours in the evenings, deal with behavior issues in the classroom and cope with state politics. They buy tissues, purchase crayons and pay to make copies from their own pockets or, lately, crowdsource funding for minimal supplies. Teachers are praised for their service but rarely feel truly valued. The data shows teachers are rapidly leaving in-person schools, and it is costing states dearly. Here are the top 5 reasons a teacher will leave a school district and what Proximity Learning is doing to help:
The unique problems teachers face are major stressors that cross into their personal lives. A recent edweek article says, “Teachers say they’re spread thin with technology challenges, a decline in student engagement, the fear of contracting COVID-19, and personal child-care or caretaking responsibilities. Many teachers also say they feel unappreciated by the general public as the debate over whether to reopen school buildings reaches a fever pitch. A vocal contingent of parents and others have blamed teachers’ unions for obstructing the path to the classroom.”
School hours do not equal work hours. Teachers lesson plan, grade and prepare materials every morning before the bell and every evening after. Summers are spent doing mandatory professional development that leaves people too exhausted for personal development. A recent Noodle article says, “According to a report by the Alliance for Excellent Education, roughly half a million U.S. teachers either move or leave the profession each year. Turnover in the field is especially high among new teachers, with over 40 to 50 percent of teachers throwing in the towel after five years. It's not surprising, given that teachers often are expected to work 55 to 60 hours weekly in a role that can be draining on emotional, mental, and even physical levels.”
Of course, no one studies education and goes into teaching to make millions, but some teachers are not able to pay their bills with a full-time salary. Some have a second job on the weekend just to make ends meet, and the burden grows every year. Missouri Business Alert says“‘We have had teachers who have families that qualify for food stamps,’ Fuller said, ‘even though they are a schoolteacher with a full-time job.’ The Economic Policy Institute published a report last year stating that, accounting for education and experience, educators’ weekly wages in 2018 were about 21% lower than those of their peers working in other fields. In 1996, that disparity was 6.3%. The report also showed that almost 60% of educators took a second position for additional pay.”
- Lack of Support
Teachers always have to have an ear open to state politics because Departments of Education have vast power over curriculum and administrations. Teachers can be left feeling like the enemy when they try to advocate with their expertise. Proximity Learning ASL Teacher Dr. Janellkay Brigham said, “While at the brick and mortar schools, there were some where the support was terrific, and some where it was not. I feel that as a Deaf educator, there are aspects about ASL classes that I would be the authority on. If the administration does not respect that, it can affect the morale of the teacher and even the department. All teachers want to be respected and feel that they are listened to.”
- Lack of Respect
Teachers fight for respect from parents, administrators and state legislatures. Teachers also have to fight on behalf of their students. PLI Math teacher Miranda Dilbert explains, “My first year of teaching really opened my eyes to the realities of what we teachers refer to as ‘teaching the test.’ As an advocate for students, I was pulled aside and told ‘you can't save them all.’ It was crushing.”
Teachers have been leaving school districts and retention rates have been dropping for years, but the pandemic exacerbated the issue. Teachers faced a global health crisis with no experience of how to respond or how to help students cope. New technologies and rules surfaced overnight with no notice of changes. Existing unpaid overtime work was multiplied as new software was introduced for teachers’ use and tutorials were required. All of these things stacked on top of the normal problems teachers face and the natural stressors of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic made teaching extremely difficult. Teachers have been leaving school districts in droves.
Here at Proximity Learning, we are offering a more flexible solution for teachers to continue their essential life's work while meeting their personal needs. Proximity teachers know their schedule and are trained to leverage technology. Flexible schedules ensure teachers’ time is respected. Our team offers support both with technology and with classroom facilitators. Teachers get to teach without the disruptions and politics, and school districts get high quality educators for their students. “While at PLI, I have always felt that my emails, my suggestions, my input was valued. I am looking forward to another super year!” said Dr. Brigham.