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4 Reasons Teachers Quit Their Jobs

4 Reasons Teachers Quit Their Jobs

Itís a commonly cited statistic: half of all new teachers quit within their first five years of teaching. Though their reasons are plentiful, here are four reasons that teachers commonly point to for bowing out of the profession before theyíve even really started:

1. Standardized Testing

The future of education is here and it looks like a barrage of generic multiple-choice tests. With federal and state interests in assessing student performance constantly, the system alters not just how things are taught, but why they are taught. As a result, arbitrary benchmarks supersede legitimate creativity and learning.

Itís not just the worry of ensuring that students succeed at the standardized tests. It also shatters the spirits of teachers who entered the profession to, you know, teach. Devoting so much time to mind numbing, irrelevant instruction rather than activities that build critical thinking and character prompts teachers to reevaluate their purpose and passion to lead a classroom when so much discretion has been taken out of their hands.

2. The Stressful Workload

ďGee, sure must be nice to have all those summers off!Ē While teachers are constantly told what an easy job they have, the reality is that the workday extends long after the final bell rings; class time is just one commitment of the job. If teachers arenít staying at their desks until dusk, theyíre bringing work home with them. There are always lessons to plan, hundreds of essays and assignments to grade, and new state-mandated educational requirements to learn. Add that to skipped lunch breaks to tutor kids, after school meetings and unpaid extracurricular volunteering, and itís easy to see why teachers often donít have time for a personal life.

Itís often not the lazy teachers who quit Ė itís those who overextend themselves trying to do their best to meet all of the demands of the job that burn out.

3. The Salary

Ask most teachers why they entered the profession, and youíll have trouble finding any that say, “For the money.Ē While underpaying teachers helps to maintain teaching as a ďnoble profession,Ē a badge of nobility wonít always keep people in the job.

Admittedly, public school jobs do offer a living wage. However, compared to other specialized jobs that involve degrees and training, the salaries donít stack up. Lawyers in New York City start at four times the salary as nearby teachers, and the disparity only gets worse over time. Compared to other jobs, raises are small. Even after 25 years on the job, the average teacher salary is only $67,000.

After putting in so many uncompensated hours of overtime and facing the reality that theyíll never be able to retire at the rate they dreamed of, teachers opt to jump ship early to pursue a career that can better reward them financially.

4. Lack of Respect

The low compensation is just one indication that teachers arenít highly regarded by society. Teachers see a lack of respect coming from angry parents, disengaged students who have already checked out mentally after years in a failing educational system, and administrators who place unreasonable or undefined expectations on their plates without offering the adequate support to help them succeed.

The rightwing anti-union movement only compounds this sentiment by labeling teachers as lazy leeches trying to destroy America. Moreover, the prevailing notion that if a teachers were smarter or more competent, they would have secured a better job leaves them aspiring for another path. When teachers give up so much time and money in an effort to make a difference, yet ultimately feel unappreciated on top of it allÖ why would they keep returning to a thankless job?

Improving this situation wonít be easy, but itís an absolutely necessary fix. Since it takes years of experience for teachers to feel confident in their abilities, losing teachers before theyíve had a chance to thrive at their jobs ensures a constant cycle of underprepared teachers with no stability. The current approach isnít good for our schools, isnít good for our students and isnít good for society.

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11:56AM PDT on Aug 6, 2014

I think being teacher is one of the hardest and demanding jobs on earth. You have to like teaching and kids and enjoy the process. If you suffer, probably you should think about other job and career. Well, you'll have to write good resume that next hirer will like and won't ask questions like "why did you give up teaching?" I know there are good services that offer resume for high school students as well as for teachers, so it's never late to change your life and your career. Just don't be afraid of the changes.

8:23PM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

Amen. Been there, done, got the T-shirt.....what a shame politics can interfere with the joy of exploration, and making a difference with the young.

4:50PM PDT on Apr 1, 2014

Yes a tough job indeed

6:51AM PDT on Apr 1, 2014


4:05AM PDT on Apr 1, 2014


2:11AM PDT on Apr 1, 2014

My daughter is a Teacher ! She always Loved school as a Child,got Great grades,and participated in so many activities! Even graduated a year early from college ! She was teaching in Arizona ,and said so many kids came to school Dirty,Hungry,Tired,and some couldn't speak English ,so that made her job harder ! She had a student bring a Gun to school as well,this was a 5th grader! She was Horrified,and left that school ! Moved back to the Mid-West,she now teaches 4 th graders,and LOVES her job ! She said what bothers her most is so many kids Don't have all the supplies they need or are Hungry,so she has spent her own money to buy school supplies for her students! It's a Thankless job ,if parents would teach their kids better manners and make sure they have what they need at school then the child would be set up for success ,instead of failure !

3:34PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014


8:30AM PDT on Mar 30, 2014

sad commentary on some of what is wrong with societal values and related funding

11:27PM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

Having volunteered wherever I could,appreciation is dead.You spend out of pocket.You help long past normal hours. You try harder than is reasonably to be expected,but if your political view is different from what is nomad from the majority or you're blond in a brunette world,or a coffee drinker in a group that has always had tea,it still may make no difference to the rest. It's time to back up and go home.

11:13PM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

Betrayal from Support. It's just not worth it after a while.

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