why is the attrition rate high? and where do teachers go if they leave teaching?

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by sinvanc, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. sinvanc

    sinvanc Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 27, 2008

    I was thinking about getting into HS teaching and have questions I am wondering about....
    What are the reasons for high attrition rates?
    and Where do teachers go if they quit teaching... what else can they do? I will be very grateful for your responses! Thanks a lot!
     
  2.  
  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Dec 28, 2008

    Hi and welcome!

    According to this report, nearly a quarter of new public school teachers leave in the first few years:

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w14022

    In my totally biased opinion, it's probably because they weren't prepared for the realities of teaching. I think that some new teachers see teaching in a romanticized fashion-- that they'll instantly become the kind of teacher they hope to someday be, where the kids are attentive, where they can teach exactly what they want the way they want, where paperwork isn't a problem, where there is no beaurocracy, where administrations are supportive, where parents are helpful and thankful. Some have been misled into the "teacher shortage" myth, and think that finding a job won't be a problem. Then, when they eventually do find a job, some find that it's not a good fit for a multitude of reasons.

    When the reality falls short, lots of people decide this isn't the career for them. The reality is that it typically takes a number of years of on the job training to become a good teacher, regardless of what you're told in college.

    This is year #23 of high school math for me, and it's the only career I can see myself in.

    What are you planning to teach?
     
  4. MrsTeacher2Be

    MrsTeacher2Be Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    208
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 28, 2008

    I totally agree with Alice. I'm a new teacher (a whopping 3 months experience!) and I can safely say that teaching is very little like I thought it would be. The paperwork is unreal, and my kids are very different that I ever expected, and way too many parents don't care. BUT, thankfully, this must be what I was meant to do because I absolutely LOVE it. I love my job, my co-workers, my administrators (well, most of them), but most of all my kids. They're not a all what I had expected, but I still love them anyway. That look when they get it, or the excitement when a kid studies his butt off and passes the class by 1 point after taking his final. It's just so awesome to be a part of it, and honestly the kids are the ONLY reason to teach IMHO.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Messages:
    5,621
    Likes Received:
    6

    Dec 28, 2008

    Why? Quite simply because teaching is HARD work. Like Alice said, the realities of teaching are something that no school that I know of does a good job of teaching their ed majors. Teacher hopefulls aren't given very much time when they're "on their own", and are hit with an enormous culture shock when they begin their first year. There are challenges that people never dream of, from the overwhelming amount of paperwork, to rude, disrespectful kids to unsupportive parents and admins. There's a lot to do and very little time in which to do it. It takes at least a couple of years for a person to really "get in the groove", yet at the same time, the learning curve is one of the steepest out there. A new teacher is basically thrown to the wolves, and it's a very overwhelming, stressful experience.
     
  6. teacherstudent1

    teacherstudent1 Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 28, 2008

    Because everyone went to school, so therefore everyone thinks they can teach.

    Coat-tailing on the above, teaching is not an easy job that just anyone can do (contrary to the popular notion). It takes intelligence, preparation, an even temperament, much training, and a lot of patience.

    Unfortunately, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" is such a common mantra to the uninformed that many enter teaching with no idea of how difficult it can be. They are totally unprepared educationally and mentally, and they soon realize that they are in above their heads.

    Having said that, however, I must add that having begun teaching in 1980, with a few years off when my own kids were babies, I can say that I can not imagine any profession that could ever be so enjoyable and rewarding.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Dec 29, 2008

    Me too, on all counts :)
     
  8. Sagette

    Sagette Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2007
    Messages:
    222
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 29, 2008

    Having just completed my first district teaching position, which was a maternity leave, I can honestly say that I wasn't prepared for all the work that went into it. I believe this is where you see many teachers throw in the towel. I feel I rose to the occasion and loved it, but I know many others who quickly become overwhelmed by it and end up hating teaching. Add behavior issues, parents, and a less than supportive faculty and or pricipal to the mix and it can really be a nightmare especially if you don't know any better. I have heard that insurance agencies love teachers because many who leave teaching end up there.
     
  9. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    2,233
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 30, 2008

    I don't know where new teachers go when they quit, but old teachers surely go to Heaven.
     
  10. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    583
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 30, 2008

    What is strange too is that often the kids who make the comments or the sighs will be the ones who say they like your class!

    Are you currently teaching ESL? I have taught ESL for almost 20 years now. I would be glad to help.
     
  11. MrsTeacher2Be

    MrsTeacher2Be Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    208
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 30, 2008

    OMG! That's so true! Many of the kids who say how "mean" I am (I'm not mean, I just refuse to baby them) are the exact ones who came to school the last few days of the semester when they didn't have to and wanted to hang out in my room with me the WHOLE day. :lol:
     
  12. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    2,284
    Likes Received:
    118

    Dec 30, 2008

    And it seems like the kids who come back to visit me after they graduate are the ones who were the biggest pains in the tushie while they were in my class!
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,489
    Likes Received:
    1

    Dec 31, 2008

    I do agree with Alice... but sometimes there are "other" things going on. I know I certainly had romanticized teaching - I loved my teachers, I had a great public school education and a great college education - everything will be roses and chocolate and maybe some paper grading!

    I didn't leave because of teaching, per se - I love interacting with the kids and being in the classroom. Parents are PITAS and you just get used to the paper work after awhile. I left because of administration. I thought that if I have to change grades or lose my job, if I have to be subjected to rumors by kids the admin will believe over me, if my admin is unwilling to help me enforce my classroom rules - which they approved of, if I have to accept work 9 weeks late and grade it for full value, if my admin is going to give me an unfair evaluation based on a personality clash, if I have to continuously give in where I KNOW it is wrong - then I don't want any part of it.

    Then I grew up and decided maybe not ALL admins are like this. I just got "lucky" with my two jobs.

    I wonder if that study looked to see how many teachers left, then go back in after a few years.
     
  14. sinvanc

    sinvanc Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 3, 2009

    THANK YOU for your replies!! I was going to teach science, still am, but after all you said, I really need to volunteer and see with my eyes. Big decision ! :)
     
  15. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Messages:
    4,280
    Likes Received:
    694

    Jan 4, 2009

    Sinvanc,
    Teaching is my second career, and I'll be honest (and this will surprise many of my teacher friends) == teaching is easier than my first career. That being said, my first career required that I be on-call 24/7, that I work every single holiday, that I work at least 1 full day on the weekend every week in addition to every day during the week, that I put in a minimum of 80 hours per week (and that's "at the job site" hours -- not home planning or grading kind of hours -- I had all those hours too, but on my own time,) I received no overtime, because I was "managment." I hired hundreds of employees each year, I fired dozens (most of whom other people hired.) I had to fill positions, even if all of the available applicants were not qualified for the job -- because we were a remote location and didn't pay well.

    But even so, don't get me wrong -- teaching is a hard, time -consuming job. Here are the reasons I've noticed that new teachers leave:

    --they think teaching will be easy -- short hours, summer's off, obedient children, just follow the text books and teacher's edition -- no problems, no huge effort. Boy, are they wrong!

    --they are expected to be 100% effective starting on day one. Imagine if you were a retail clerk. You can't get the cash register to work because the tape is all jammed up, and you can't unjam it. You have no idea how to do it. You call the manager and explain the problem. The manager says, "well, we are going to give you an in-service (training class) on how to do that in 2 weeks. Just get by the best you can until then..." Of course that wouldn't happen, but that is what happens to teachers.

    --ungodly amounts of paperwork. Paperwork that duplicates other paperwork that nobody ever seems to look at anyway.

    --unrealistic deadlines. We are often given a new program on Friday afternoon, and told to read the 400 page manual and implement it starting that Monday. Oh yeah, and the training will come next month-- but we must implement it starting right away.

    --technology and tools from the dark ages. As late as 2002, I taught in a school that gave me a FILMSTRIP PROJECTOR and a filmstrip dated 1952! I still remember the opening line "Someday, man may travel to the moon -- but until then, we must observe the moon from a distance." Can you imagine? How many kindergarten teachers still have records and record players (with the old metal needles) in their classrooms?

    --if you really need help, the only people (fellow teachers) who can really help you are busy teaching in their own classrooms. They people who try to help you are usually quite clueless, and their ideas don't always help that much.

    --no matter whether you are a miserable teacher, a good teacher, or a fabulous teacher -- you still get paid exactly the same. You still get the same "mixed bag" class. In other words, there is no real benefit to being experienced and doing a wonderful job. (Well, except maybe that you are the last laid off due to budget cuts -- I will say that is one advantage.)

    --after you've been teaching for 15 years, you max out of the increases in pay system -- meaning you get nothing but cost-of-living for the rest of your career. None of us are in this for the money, but it is nice to be able to live....

    --now this is true of many professions, but also in teaching-- the administrators often aren't well-suited to support and motivate their staff.
     
  16. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    243
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2009

    I'm not going to leave teaching, but the one thing that I noticed that hasn't been commented on above is the lack of feedback. If everything is going fine, I get no feedback at all. I only get feedback if there is a problem. As someone who came in from another career, this bothered me a lot at first. I'm getting used to it now, but we all like little pats on the back time and again.

    As a first year teacher, I can honestly say, I have absolutely no idea what my admin thinks of me. If there was a real problem, I'd know, but beyond that, no feedback.
     
  17. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,489
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 10, 2009

    Kate, I noticed that too. My first school's evaluation template left room for both positive and negative feedback, while the second school's basically focused on what you don't do well. It was much nicer to know that I had some extremely strong points plus some weak points rather than just having my weaknesses listed.
     
  18. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    229

    Jan 10, 2009

    Well, looks look everyone here has pretty much said what I would have said. I am a new teacher, just finished a temporary contract and seeking employment, but I can speak for the short time I was working: it was exhausting, and dealing with kids' attitudes just sometimes wears on you. Teaching cannot be something that you just sort of fall in to because you have nothing else, it's something that you have to really want. I had days when I honestly didn't think I was going to make it; I had days when I dreaded getting up in the morning because I didn't feel strong enough to deal with everything. The paperwork is absolutely tiring. You bring home loads of it to grade, you spend hours planning, and sometimes it feels like that's all you do. I have been told that the paperwork is one of the biggest issues for first time teachers, but with time you get it under control. Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and look forward to growing and learning as a teacher (now, if only I could find a job).
     
  19. peggy27

    peggy27 Cohort

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 10, 2009

    I think many don't realize all the work there is. Many colleges don't prepare students for the real life of teaching. In my state many just teach to put thier husbands thru school and then quit to have babies.
     
  20. GradSTUDENT07

    GradSTUDENT07 Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 14, 2009

    I can honestly say my biggest issue being a first yr teacher is the lack of organization with the district and the students lack of focus etc.(If you get a chance you can read my post) Before the break I was in the process of being taken out of my position due to budget issues however after break I found out I still had my position.

    I've worked in an alternative school so I've had students threaten to kill me and i've had to restrain children; I"m aware of how many issues some of our youth have. I was not prepared to work with a class size of 35 students half of whom have a learning disability, behavioral issues, ADHD, etc. This makes it a huge challenge. I have had good days and terrible ones. I prefer a younger age group then where I teach now but I believe in the art of educating and think it's a worthy and wonderful profession. I think a lot of teachers leave because they feel they have no support; It's a challenge and I think sometimes people just need to find their place. Its really unfortuante but I think we lose some great teachers in the making because of the lack of support.
     
  21. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 15, 2009

    Everyone said the main reasons why new teachers leave: 1) it's harder than they thought, 2) no support, 3) no parental support, 4) classroom full on unruly kids, 5) realize that their heart is not into teaching

    Where do they go if they leave teaching? Well, that's a toughie. I have no clue what else one could do with a teaching degree that is outside of teaching. Although, I heard that some buisnesses like to hire teachers. ?????? Don't know who they are. I know that I am working on a science degree. While I love kindergarten, I prolly won't ever have the chance to get a job in kinder, at least, not for a long while (budget issues in CA). So, for me, I am not choosing to leave teaching, but I am just pursing something else. I want to get a geology degree. I would love to work in the field somewhere. I would also like to work for one of those science museums!!!
     
  22. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 15, 2009

    I don't know many teachers who came into the career thinking it was going to be easy.

    I put in 10-14 hour days my first two years. I was addicted to work. I would spend half my paycheck on my classroom. I gave it EVERYTHING. I even lived with my principal (my mom) and we spoke education 24/7. I gave everything I had to the profession. I never thought it was going to be easy, and I certainly did not take it easy while I taught.

    And yet I'm leaving the classroom.

    I don't think I can pinpoint one reason for leaving, but I think Rainstorm mentioned several of them. It wasn't the parents, or the work load, or the papers or whatever. I think it was the fact that I had put five years into this profession, and yet I was still being treated like I was fresh out of high school or something. None of my recent administrators treated me like a professional who knew what I was doing. I was constantly being questioned, and being told I was wrong. I don't take well to that. If there is a specific issue, fine. But I have spent thousands of hours researching educational theories and strategies and ideas, and I have a really good idea of how an effective classroom should be run. I want to be hired for my ability and then trusted to do my job.

    I have a few ideas of what to do next, but it's not easy to switch careers. I'm looking at PR/advertising/marketing/fundraising. I'm also trying to start an educational consulting/organization company.

    And I'm making pretty good money selling my classroom books. ;)

    I'm really looking forward to a career where I'll be taken seriously and treated with respect. My dh goes into work everyday and makes decisions and makes mistakes and does a great job and they love him and reward him for his work. I'm really looking forward to that.

    (and kudos to all teachers who ARE loved and respected-you are lucky!!)
     
  23. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,489
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jan 15, 2009

    Jem - AWESOME point! If you work with "old school" admin, they aren't going to look on new theories very well. Cooperative learning? Bah! Sit 'em in rows and lecture!

    Another point that really got to me was this whole "integrating technology" in the classroom. Dudes, I am ALL about the technology. I love computers and videos and document cameras as long as they fit into my lesson. But you have to draw the line somewhere... But one school I worked at we were supposed to use the laptops weekly. Weekly is hard. Especially when the network is always down.
     
  24. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 15, 2009

    Ok, here's the list of jobs I've applied to lately:

    Coordinator for the movie studio ImageMovers (they did Polar Express)

    Coordinator at LucasFilms (think Star Wars)

    Director of School Relations at Leapfrog (educational software)

    Public Relations Rep at the county Water district (focus on water conservation)

    Advertising Coordinator at Ketchum (ad agency)

    Coordinator at Esurance

    Fundraising Coordinator at Berkeley (the N. CA university)

    Event Planner for a new philanthropic start-up


    They all sound awesome, but I'm sure there are many others more qualified than I am. Poo.
     
  25. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

    Joined:
    May 28, 2006
    Messages:
    1,265
    Likes Received:
    11

    Jan 16, 2009

    Jem-- good luck in your new career path. Teaching takes a lot of work. If I had children of my own, I am not sure I would continue to teach.....
     
  26. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 16, 2009

    I had my first subbing job today, and it really changed my thinking. I'm not sure where I'm going to go with this, but....

    Subbing was awesome. The school was one that I almost got a job at last fall, and I'm pretty close the principal and head of school. She wanted to hire me last fall, but the parents picked the other girl. When I got laid off, I told her to keep me in mind. So they called me for today, and I agreed. I told myself I was going to network like crazy-not for a teaching job, but for anything else. Fundraising, advertising, etc. The principal and I had a great 45 minute talk, and she was really supportive. As I was leaving, I stuck my head into her office to say thank-you and goodbye. She happened to be chatting with the head of fundraising for them (private school). She had told this lady about me and my grants, and the lady was super excited to talk to me. She told me that schools pay tons of money for people to write grants, etc. It got my mind churning... maybe being an educational consultant wouldn't be so bad. I can market different skills to different groups. Organization services to teachers, fundraising/grant services to principals, resume/portfolio help to new graduates, etc. I may really not need a full time job. And I could do random subbing jobs to stay fresh and keep up with the kids.

    My mind is churning. I can charge minimum: $60/hour, maximum $200/hour according to my research.

    Hmmmmmmm......
     
  27. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 22, 2009

    I think some teachers leave because it isn't what they expected, but many leave because of frustration. Gen Ys don't deal well with this boomer education system that we still are running. The whole concept of a hiearchy DRIVES ME CRAZY. I plan on teaching another 25 years but I can see how people who are a little less "rule abiding" in my generation say forget this! All research shows that TEACHERS are what are important for learning - not admin, not programs, not funding. TEACHERS. Yet we still teach in a system that undervalues teachers. We are the low ones on the totem pole. At my school our principal often does things that shows he thinks he should be respected because he is the P. Sorry, but respect is 2 ways and is based on merit not title. The education system needs a non-hierarchical, collaborative structure if it wants its best new teachers to stay.
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Jan 22, 2009

    Blaming Boomers for hierarchy would make me giggle, except that finger-pointing most often generates more hierarchy, not less.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  29. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jan 22, 2009

    Sometimes there's a reason for the rules and the hierarchy.

    And that same hierarchy exists in every facet of the professional world. I can't think of a single profession where newbies are allowed to run she ship without any guidance or "seasoning."

    Most of the teachers I've met along the way have been wonderful human beings. But all, myself included, have had to learn to do our jobs through the guidance of others.

    College does not pop out good teachers. Years of experience and guidance help produce them. College hopefully prepares newbies to learn how to become good teachers

    As a mom, I'm GLAD for the hierarchy in my kids' school. It means that there's someone watching over my 5 year old's brand new teacher, ensuring that she's learning all she should. And that someone is ensuring that her 8 year old sister has the reading and math and reasoning skills she'll need. And someone is ensuring that her 10 year old brother is really prepared for middle school.

    An incompetant teacher, regardless of how much she thinks she knows, teaching in a room with a door closed, could do an awful lot of damage. I'm all for the hierarchy.
     
  30. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 22, 2009

    I respectfully disagree. There is a lot of hierarchy for hierarchy's sake. I already see this starting to change and I know if will change more in the next 20 years. Leadership in the 21st century requires a new format. The concept of seniority, the idea that teachers have no say in their timetables unless the principal chooses to include them, the lack of meaningful dialogue on an equal footing between admin and teachers all hurt the education system. Choosing a non-hierarchical structure does not mean teaching with the door closed. It actually can mean teaching with the door open. But it also means valuing teachers and what they have to add to the conversation.

    I would actually completely disagree that this hierarchy exists in all workplaces. In fact I think education is way behind on this front. Hence, why young teachers leave the profession for other professions.

    A "Flat" structure does not mean that teachers don't receive feedback or that they are not accountable but it means that there is more dialogue and less "directives."

    One of the things that research has suggested about the Y generation is that they need immediate feedback. I have a part time job in an organization that is more "flat" and I want feedback from my boss at least once a week. I've noticed lots of new teachers say they never get feedback unless something is wrong. This is a case of generational difference. Ys need the feedback. They also need to have their ideas listened to. They often have good ones. I'm right on the cusp of X/Y so I have characteristics of both generations. One thing I have never got is why admin seems nervous about discussion. Often teachers opinions aren't heard. They need to be heard for the system to improve. And I believe that if you don't want to loose good, new teachers they have to be included in the dialogue. And I would also argue that age has nothing to do with competency. Many experienced teachers are horrible. Many experienced teachers are good. Many new teachers are horrible. Many new teachers are good. ALL those invested in education need to be included in equitable, meaningful dialogue.
     
  31. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 22, 2009

    This turn in the discussion is so enlightening and interesting.

    My dh works at an ad agency, and they are always bringing in experts on generational differences and how to communicate with them. I think this def. of Gen Y fits me perfectly. That's not to say I'm proud of having difficultly taking directions and dealing with a 'boss', but it's the truth none-the-less. How interesting.
     
  32. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jan 22, 2009

    But now we're focusing on what the teachers need.

    Isn't this supposed to be about what our kids need?

    And I'm not claiming that this is about age. But I do NOT think that the overwhelming majority of brand new teachers are teaching as well as they will in a few years. After 23 years of teaching, I learn something new every day. I know I'm MUCH MUCH better than I was in 1980. I'm still passionate about my teaching. But I'm more thorough. I have a better idea of what the kids learned last year and what they'll need to learn next year, because I've taught those courses. I know how it was explained last year and how it needs to be explained next year. I know alternate explanations in case the first one doesn't reach all my kids. I can walk into a room , most days anyway, and achieve order without raising my voice or making any threats. I think I was a decent new teacher. But I would much rather my child have as a teacher the 2009 version of me than the 1980 version of me.

    Take a look at all the threads today that talk about the need for support, or for help in some aspect of teaching. Many of these teachers will grow to become great teachers-- but it takes time.

    You mention ideas being ignored. Sometimes that's because this brand new idea HAS been tried- 5 years ago under a different name when it was the latest new thing. But hte person doing the suggesting was still in high school then and is unaware that the idea has already been tried.

    I'm not in favor of a total authoritarian hierarchy. But we DO need rules and we DO need structure.

    Again, as a mom, I want to ensure that there's someone ensuring that my kids get the education they need and deserve. If that means an AP is telling their teachers to get off the phone, put down the coffee and TEACH, I can live with that.
     
  33. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Jan 22, 2009

    To the proposition that too many programs and too many administrators treat teachers as though they had little knowledge and less sense, I am much likelier to assent than to demur. I am, after all, exactly what my username proclaims me.

    There is, however, a sticky fact of human nature, and that is that rules and restrictions do not tend to be promulgated in the absence of behavior that causes a problem. Though most teachers amply justify my veneration, there are those who don't: a random mix of seekers after long summer vacations, shirkers of duties, those who forget or ignore the distinction between being friendly to students and befriending them (or more), those who abuse students from whatever motivation, those whose content knowledge is shallow, and, yes, those who have stopped growing professionally and should have retired ten years ago (some of whom, by the way, are still in their twenties). Too often they can't be fired - they shelter under tenure or under the unions; there's little alternative, then, but to try to limit the damage they do by swaddling them and everyone else in rules.

    I'm not endorsing the rules, by the way, and I agree that it would be better if they were not there. But another sticky fact of human nature is that rules once made will not go away in the absence of compelling evidence that they are no longer needed.

    This isn't a slur on anyone's generation.

    The opposite of hierarchy is anarchy - and please do not misunderstand: I mean here the original sense: a(n)- 'not', arch 'rule': literally, no one has to be in charge of everyone because each one is fully in charge of herself. It's a noble thing - but in a school setting I think it requires each teacher to take personal responsibility not only for her own efforts and growth but also for the success of all her colleagues and all the students of all her colleagues. Which may furthermore require teachers to be willing to shoulder the burden of some confrontations that (not surprisingly) they've been quite happy to leave to administrators.

    All of which is likely to be a tough sell. And if you can pull it off with all the stakeholders, yours truly the TeacherGroupie will be cheering louder than anyone else.
     
  34. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 22, 2009

    If teachers are not supported, encouraged and valued, though, your children will not have experienced teachers. They will all quit within their first five years. I understand the idea of an administrator guiding a new teacher. My principal my second year was fantastic at that. I had a huge idea for an economics fair, and she helped me create the paperwork to cover my butt. My principals since then would simply tell me 'no'. It would be too much for them to help me with it. Ok... then I'm out. And I will not become a 30-year-old experienced veteran. Other teachers, who easily give up their creative ideas, can become the veteran teachers.
     
  35. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 22, 2009

    I think if we want to understand why teachers leave we need to focus on what teachers need. There is a time and place for paying attention to teacher needs. Just like on an airplane you are supposed to put your mask on first, if teachers needs always come last teachers are more likelty to be unsatisfied.
    So yes our job is to teach children but we need to look after ourselves too. Moreover, if we want to understand why teachers leave we need to get beyond "they just couldn't hack it" because I think that is a real cop-out.

    Of course teachers get better with experience but that doesn't mean that all teachers (new and old) should get a seat at the discussion table of school decisions. Moreover, while teachers may improve with time I also know some experienced teachers that due to burn out are not as effective as some other new and experienced teachers.

    There is a difference in my mind between structure and hierarchy. We need a less hierarchical structure. We need more equitable dialogue going on in schools. Less top-down decision making.

    All opinions need to be heard. If an idea was tried and didn't work that doesn't mean the idea should be ignored. It can still be discussed and plenty of ideas that apparently "didn't work" may work in a different context. For example, my old department head said "NEVER" to cooperative learning because she went to a conference ONCE, came back tried it all at once, found it didn't work and never tried again. Well that was 10 years ago. I use cooperative learning and it works wonders. BUT it took a few tries to get it to a form that worked well on a consistent basis.

    Bascially if teachers feel that they are unheard they will drop out. Some will leave teaching, others become jaded. Some rise above. But if we want to understand why teachers leave we need to consider that some structures are not working for younger teachers.

    Moreover, there are opposites and grey zones too. Not having hierarchy only leads to anarchy if you don't replace the hiearchy with something else. There are plenty of great examples of functioning leadership models that are not hiearchical but "flat."

    That reminds me of teachers who gripe that because they cannot take marks off for lates that they have problems with late assignments. They actually have a problem with lates because when their old structure (zeros) was taken away they left a void. They didn't replace it with other structures. So of course if you remove a structure and don't create another structure you will have anarchy. But loosing hiearchy for a flatter structure won't lead to anarchy.
     
  36. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 22, 2009

    BTW - the idea of a flat structure is not considered crazy by the "higher ups." Two years ago my superintendant started reading on the subject. He thinks its "fascinating." Unfortunately, as long as only people in administration who are all in one age demographic are participating in the dialogue about how to create a flat organizational structure, they aren't going to get very far. I figure they will eventually come to that conclusion - maybe when the first Ys get promoted :)
     
  37. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Jan 23, 2009

    Whoa, Canuk. Your passion is admirable, but it may be impelling you to shoot yourself in the foot.

    Whatever you were responding to, I don't think it's what I actually wrote. Let me quote myself:

    That's not a characterization of chaos, and in fact 'chaos' as a meaning for anarchy is a late development. To be truly in charge of oneself is to be self-disciplined in all the best of senses.

    I went on to point out that anarchy in this sense would require each teacher to take personal responsibility not only for her own success and growth but for the success of all her colleagues and of their students. So also would the 'flat' structure you have championed.

    For the 'flat' structure to succeed demands not only that each be listened to but also that each listen as deeply as possible and that each communicate courteously.

    To put it more baldly (and here I am not addressing just you): be the change you seek.
     
  38. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 23, 2009

    While I may have misinterpreted the intention of your anarchy comment (sorry!) , I stand by the point I was trying to make about the middle types of structures. The problem with the idea that the structures will change when we don't need hierarchy is that there are people who want the structures to stay because either it benefits them, or it fits with their belief system or they simply don't like change.

    While I agree with you TG that we can be the change we need to seek the question asked why teachers leave. I am in my fifth year. I haven't left. So according to the stats in Canada I've "survived" the high attrition rate period. The first 5 years is when most teachers choose to leave.

    Of course we can be the change we seek, but the problem with education is that we are about 20 years behind when it comes to change :) There is a site called the committed sardines that uses a great analogy. It says that education is like a blue whale - it takes FOREVER to turn. However, sardines (forwarding thinking educators) can turn on a dime in small schools and make big changes.

    I actually am doing this. I am working with 4 teachers on our own time to make our classrooms work the way they think they should, to challenge ourselves to be better, to set clear goals. We actually even got funding. We have 3 days to observe each other, work as a group, etc.

    HOWEVER, I really wasn't thinking about myself when I posted my thoughts. I was thinking about the question of why teachers leave. I see lots of GREAT teachers leave for the reasons I've mentioned. I've attended 2 great workshops this year that discussed communication and the generational gaps. Prior to this I would have agreed with the people who said some just can't "handle it", but now I think it is more complex and requires that schools change to support new teachers.
     
  39. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jan 23, 2009

    But I think a hierarchy CAN support new teachers. I think my school does a great job of it.

    We have 2 days of new teacher orientation before our start of year faculty meetings. Veterans come in and discuss everything from how we set up our grade books to how to take attendance on the computer to the difference between a "grey slip"-- (misdemeanor resulting in detention) and a "green slip" (more of a felony resulting in demerits and detentions.)

    Each week there are new teacher meetings with the AP. He covers everything from the upcoming Open House or assembly or pep rally to different kinds of "Do Now" assignments to how to assign effective homework.

    Each new teacher is assigned a mentor. In a special case, I worked extensively with a new teacher from October until December. She had been hired as a short term leave replacement for our Calculus teacher, and ended up staying on as his health hasn't improved. As a 22 year old teaching Seniors, she had it a bit rough. (I wasn't in a position to move into her classes, since I missed a month of school because of surgery.) So the administration went out of its way to ensure that Allison had it as easy as possible. We worked on everything: little ways to give the kids the idea that she's the authority (like correcting uniform violations as they enter the classroom) and bigger things-- like how to explain finding the derivative of a function. And it has worked wonders-- the kids respect her and she's doing great.

    I can't imagine how they could support a new teacher any more than they already do. I think they're great about supporting us all.

    But make no mistake: The administration is the boss. I can question directives and we can discuss them, but ultimately I answer to my boss.
     
  40. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jan 23, 2009

    Alice,

    I think all the new teacher orientation and mentoring you do is great. We do all of that too. I think these things can make sure a new teacher will be able to tread water and sometimes even thrive with the best supports. I am so thankful to my mentor for all she did for me. However, I don't think these things are enough to make people stay. I don't think most teachers in my District leave because of the pay or the work or because they couldn't hack it.

    However, I still believe that the hierarchical structure of schools is starting to crack and needs to change. The slow pace at which it is changing definately contributes to teachers leaving.

    For example, I had a friend who applied for a leave to teach abroad. She was refused because the District said she couldn't apply for leave to work somewhere else (even though every other district in the province practically allows this AND about 60% our our admin did this in their early years.) Can they do it. Of course because as you say they are "the boss." Was it wise? No it was a bad decision. They lost an excellent teacher and she will never come back to this district because she feels like she was subjected to rules for rules sake. Not to mention that about 80% of teachers under the age of 30 are fuming mad about this rule.

    And creating that kind of resentment does not lead people to go out and spend their own money on resources, break their back for the school district, etc. In other words, it makes them think twice before they go above and beyond next time.

    I completely agree that ultimately admin can make us do stuff, but I think that is a poor quality form of leadership and I know that leads to high attrition among gen Ys.

    I'll give you one good example of leadership I experienced today. I have been working with struggling students one period per day this semester. There is another teacher who does it full time. Next semester that other teacher is teaching a course so she will be unavailable one period per day. Up to today we didn't have the sections to offer the 4th period. Today my P came up with a way to make it work. So she came down to my room to ask if I would be willing to give up my favourite course to do this. Now I really had already figured out that IF we got a section and IF she asked me that it would require I give up my favourite course. I has already decided that if she asked I would say yes. I was actually hoping she would and had asked the other teacher who does this full time to encourage our P to try to make it work. Because I thought it was the best way to improve the school :)

    But when she came down to talk to me about the possibility (we still aren't sure we are going to do it) she didn't tell me. She asked me. Now we both know she could MAKE me do it. But she wanted my opinion. She wanted me to be happy with the decision. If I'd said no, she probably wouldn't have forced me to do it. She could have, but she probably would have worked to find another solution. But we both knew that it wouldn't have to come to that because we've spoken enough over the course of the term that we both had a pretty good idea how this conversation would go if it ever came up.

    Of course ultimately she gets to decide, but good leadership doesn't rely on the fact that they can. In fact, they know they've lost when they have to force someone to do something. Nobody wins when everyone feels awful about how we get to a particular result.
     
  41. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Jan 23, 2009

    Wait, you're comparing BAD leadership with ANY leadership. Good leadership makes a school, or any other workplace, work well. It keeps its eye on the ball, and manages the delicate balance between what's important to most, and what's vital to some.

    OF COURSE bad leadership is divisive and anti-education and leads to bad feelings and bad decisions and a loss of good people.

    I just know it's entirely possible to have a BOSS who manages the delicate balance between the big picture and the important details. I know because I've worked for a few of them.

    And, totally off the topic: you and I seem to be the main full time teachers around today. My husband and I are both off on Founders Day-- with a sick child!!! So much for our nice adult lunch. Why are you off?
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. CaliforniaRPCV,
  2. waterfall
Total: 208 (members: 3, guests: 185, robots: 20)
test