Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why Teachers Quit

Some posts on this blog are personal reflections. Some are comments on the teaching profession. Some are teaching ideas and links to resources. Some contain elements of all of the above.

I like this post on the blog, "So You Want To Teach."

The article describes "the dip." The dip is a point in a person's life when he becomes discouraged. The person must make a conscious effort to fight through his malaise to achieve success.

The dip is to be contrasted with the cliff and the cul-de-sac, which both terminate in failure.

(BTW: After having just added two images to this post, I must say that blogger.com does not make it easy to add images to your blog.)

The article continues, and lists 10 reasons to keep teaching. It is a nice list, and I concur with all the reasons, many of which are philanthropic in nature.

This post, from the same blog, enumerates five reasons teachers quit. I am not going to quit teaching; however, some of the comments the author makes certainly apply to negative feelings and attitutdes I sometimes experience.
1. Bad students/administrator/curriculum/demographics.

This argument is simply an attempt to place the blame on someone other than the individual teacher. This is the most common reasons that teachers who have been teaching for quite a while retire. “Kids are different … Parents are different.” “No Child Left behind is a worthless program that does nothing but make public schools worse.” “Poor nonwhite parents don’t care about their kids.” These are all symptoms that point at something the teacher is doing ineffectively. Until we face the person in the mirror, we will keep finding excuses to not love our job.
This is a great quote. It's so true. I sometimes blame other people (the students, the parents, the administration) for my short-comings as a teacher, but these are just excuses. I must put the responsibility for my successes and failures on my own shoulders.
2. Too much paperwork/responsibility.

Another way to say this is “I’m unorganized and don’t have a system to handle this much responsibility.” This is probably the most common complaint I have heard from new teachers.
Organization is my Achilles' heel. I'm relieved to learn that this is the number one teacher complaint. I'm not the only one.
3. Too much negativity.

While this is a common state of many teachers in schools, we don’t have to hang around with negative people. I avoid the teachers lounge for this very reason. People who watch the news all the time tend to be negative about things much more frequently than people who don’t. One concept I picked up from The 4-Hour Workweek is to simply ask, “What’s new in the world?” when you meet people. If something major is happening, they’ll generally let you know. The information that is available right as an event is unfolding is generally not very accurate anyway. Go out of your way to find excellent educators to emulate, and you will discover that most of the time, they are very positive people.
Again, so true. Some teachers at our school have a negative atmosphere and it is contagious. I suspect many schools are the same. I need to make a conscious effort to remain positive. It's funny that the author suggests to avoid the staffroom. I suggested this tactic at a job interview once and I don't think the interviewers were impressed.


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