Why So Many Teachers Are Leaving the Profession
Teachers can be the most influential people in children’s lives. They shape our values, vision and knowledge of the world as well as providing unwavering support along the way. For many, they’re the smiley, reliable face that greets them every day. For others, they’re the only positive role model that exists in their life. So, why is it that record numbers are leaving the profession?
As a former teacher (see why I left in this blog), and friend of many others (who are also leaving), i can definitely say as a career, it’s not sustainable. Teachers feel undervalued, unappreciated and over-worked. As many as 44% of teachers in England plan to quit within five years. Phenomenal teachers are leaving the classroom for good and going on to entirely different paths purely because they’re emotionally, physically and mentally spent.
What makes an amazing teacher?
Throughout school we all had ‘that one teacher’ who impacted our lives. For me, there were a few. My History teacher, Mrs Hutchins and my English teacher, Mrs McKeowen. Coincidentally they did also teach my favourite subjects but they also shared so much enthusiasm and excitement about them too. Mrs Hutchins, for example, showed a fervent passion for Irish History that it made me take it at A Level (I couldn’t tell you much about it now only that there was a chap called Parnell who influenced a lot of change). Mrs McKeowen on the other hand was incredibly nurturing and always supported me in my times of need (and there were a lot in my adolescence). Plus, she had an amazing poster of Kate Bush on her wall and i just thought she was the coolest.
These two women (and many more along the way) certainly shaped who i am today and were a source of inspiration for becoming a teacher myself.
I wanted to recreate that same impact that they had on me, for other young people. I was under no illusions it would be easy but i thought the job satisfaction would make up for any hardships along the way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out like that.
The harsh reality of being a teacher
There are teachers who go above and beyond, working extra hours to plan the most engaging and innovative lessons, spending their weekends and evenings marking and planning for the week ahead. They do this because they love their job and they want their students to succeed. Then there are teachers who just about get by, putting in the minimum amount of effort because they feel like they’re not being appreciated or supported. It’s an incredibly demanding job, both emotionally and mentally. You are constantly giving, with very little time to recharge your batteries.
It’s not uncommon for teachers to leave the profession after just a few years and i can understand why. The work/life balance is non-existent, the pay isn’t great and there’s very little job satisfaction. It’s not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination but it’s also one of the most important.
Teachers have such a profound impact on the future generation and we need to start valuing them more. We need to support them, encourage them and make their working lives easier. Because if we don’t, there won’t be anyone left to teach the teachers of tomorrow.