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Why do teachers leave?

That’s the question asked in last week’s Atlantic, in a piece by Liz Riggs titled “Why Do Teachers Quit?”

But perhaps a more important question is: Why do teachers stay?

And how can we keep them?

The statistics are troubling but familiar: between 40 and 50 percent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years.

Most of us can hazard a guess at why teachers leave, and Riggs names them all: lack of support, lack of respect, low pay. But the crucial flipside of teacher turnover is teacher retention, and Riggs is fairly definitive about the latter:

 If the overall attractiveness of teaching as a profession gets better, the best teachers will enter the profession, stay, and help increase the effectiveness of schools.

She also quotes Richard Ingersoll, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has done extensive research on teacher turnover and retention: “To improve the quality of teaching,” Ingersoll says, you need to “improve the quality of the teaching job. If you really improve that job…you would attract good people and you would keep them.”

But how to improve the quality of a teaching job is the big question. Ingersoll found that higher pay isn’t necessarily the most significant factor in attracting and retaining teachers.

What does make teachers want to join and stay in the profession? A supportive school administration, for one: Ingersoll’s research shows that teachers who have access to mentors and administrators who encourage them are more likely to remain in the job. Interestingly, Ingersoll also cites parental involvement and student achievement as a factor.

In other words: It takes a village to keep a teacher.

What do you think would encourage more teachers to stick with the profession?

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1 Comment:

  • 1 phyllis c muray
    · Nov 2, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Teaching is a noble profession. The esteem, reverence, and awe which students hold for their teachers is often captured in the students’ words. In 2006 our students wrote about their teachers. They were writing about teachers who were professionals in every meaning of the word. Through the children’s words, you can see how “a practitioner’s superior depth of experience” made a difference in the academic life of each child. Surely, a qualified teacher in a classroom can mean the difference between the students’ academic life or death because the students’ future depends so desperately on the quality of their education. WHAT IS A TEACHER? A teacher is a symbol of learning: a leader of learners and a miracle to education. A teacher is the captain of our educational journey; exact about everything. A teacher has the courage enough to teach; and knows mostly all the answers. Teachers become our heroic inspiration. Teachers educate us with all of their knowledge. Smart and spirited, teachers can make our brains work like computers. Yet, our teachers can also hold our hands when we need it. Teachers reach to the sky to get what we need; and exit a subject just at the right time. A teacher possesses the academics and grace that we all love. Teachers care for us in every imaginable way. Our teacher is the hero in our learning lives. Education is the key to success. That is what our teachers have taught us. Teachers are a class struggle in liberty: believing in kids; reaching out to kids; and instilling pride within all of us. Our education is important to our teachers. Therefore our teachers struggle hard to teach every student: checking exams after school; explaining things so they are easier; and reading to us or teaching us how to read. Each one of our praises we give. And for everything our teachers do, we will thank them today, tomorrow and always. By Bibana, Ashanti, Jamal, Ellenah, Diana, John Henry, and Mohammed, fifth graders at P.S.75x. Dedicated to teachers Ms. Sharin Terado, Mrs.Gisella Montalvo, and Mrs. Elena Garcia.