5 Biggest Reasons Teachers Quit

Written by on October 22, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page


The statistics about educational professionals make for grim reading. Out of every graduating class full of eager new teachers, nearly half will have left teaching within five years. In fact, this high level of teacher attrition is a growing concern among educational authorities who foresee a shortage of qualified teachers in the near future. However, the reasons for this high rate of attrition are obvious when one examine the actual conditions many teachers face in their professional careers.

The Lack of Support for New Teachers

Entering into a classroom, no matter how much schooling or mentoring a teacher has, is always a stressful experience. Unfortunately, many schools do not provide support for new teachers, either via formal programs or via informal mentoring arrangements. Being left alone in a classroom, often with difficult students, can lead to high levels of stress and contribute to the teacher’s decision to leave the profession after only a few years. This is especially true when combined with the large class sizes found in many American schools.

The High Percentage of New Teachers Placed in Low Income Settings

Today, many beginning teachers find themselves placed in challenging low-income school districts. These newer and less experienced teachers are not always prepared for the unique challenges of these types of educational settings. When coupled with a lack of support from more experienced teachers and administrators, this causes many teachers to decide to leave the profession. This attrition compounds the problem, as it makes it more important than ever to provide full staffing for these districts.

Long Work Hours

While many laypersons talk about how much vacation time teachers get, the truth is that many teachers are heavily overworked. In addition to the six to eight hours a day spent educating and supervising the children, teachers have a vast amount of extra work. Grading, preparing lesson plans and filling out a growing amount of required documentation can result in teachers working 60 or more hours a week.

In addition, teachers are often required to attend “optional” student functions, work as chaperones for school trips, and carry a heavy burden of continuing education units to keep their teaching credentials up to date. This can easily result in a teacher choosing to quit in order to enter a profession that demands less overtime.

Inadequate Compensation

Many new teachers enter this profession with high levels of student debt, and find themselves facing below average compensation, especially compared to other professions with comparable educational requirements. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics currently lists a median annual wage for high school instructors of $53,230, many teachers must work extremely long hours and find their pay inadequate, especially when coupled with the student debt they amass.

Lack of Respect for Educators

Many educators find a lack of support and respect, not simply from their superiors, but parents, and society in general. The idea that teachers are not professionals and that teaching is an “anyone can do” creates a corrosive work atmosphere for an educators who has spent years preparing to become an effective teacher. In many cases, the feeling of a lack of respect and support makes it easier for the educator to choose to leave the profession and seek out a more highly regarded career.

America’s continuing need for teachers is, unfortunately, at least partially due to the powerful forces that lead to many teachers leaving the profession. Only by transforming the teaching profession into a rewarding, well-supported and properly compensated field can this attrition among new and experienced teachers alike be stemmed.

This is a guest post.  Derek Houser is a school district administrator and guest author at TopEducationDegrees.org, a site with reviews of top-rated online masters in education programs.


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