In this article, we are going to see Why are Teachers in the US quitting?
The most common factor that is attributed to many teachers in the country quitting is low salary. And to some extent it is true. However, it is just one of the many reasons that make educators quit, among many others. The underlying, yet, more important reason is simply because of an extremely poor work environment. This culminates in most educators not being able to cope up and leads to quitting in large numbers.
What exactly constitutes a bad working environment?
A simple understanding of a bad, or unhealthy working environment is a place of employment, where there is miscommunication, unprofessional behavior, and strained inter-office relationships. In the context of educators, that can come about in many forms.
Teachers end up doing more than they are paid for
It is no secret that teachers play a pivotal role in shaping a young mind. But this role often results in undue pressure on the teachers to be more than just an educator. Most often than not, they end up taking up the role of a parent, social worker, or even a psychologist for some students. Another instance of this problem is that teachers end up having to supervise after-school events, outside of their working hours, without any compensation.
They end up not having time to prepare for their classes
This is another consequence of the aforementioned extra duties that are often bestowed upon teachers. Even if these extra responsibilities were absent, the sad truth remains that meetings end up eating up a lot of the time teachers set aside for planning classes. Some teachers then have to resort to using their time, after school or on weekends to plan their classes.
But many still end up not getting any time at all due to many other commitments in their personal lives. As a result, their lessons end up not quite hitting the mark. This cannot be blamed on the teachers as they are being overwhelmed.
Disrespect by Students
Educators are often treated very badly by a lot of students. They face a lot of disrespect and some of the same students end up disrupting their classes as well. The key reason for agitation here is that educators have no one to go to resolve the issue. If they call a certain student’s home and the parents don’t seem to cooperate, they are not left with many choices on how to deal with the situation. As a result of this, most teachers resort to helplessly letting students act out in the classroom, which ends up being detrimental for other students as well.
Technological challenges brought about by the Pandemic
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, schools across the world were shut down. So, most if not all education has shifted to various online platforms. There is an alarming decline in student engagement as well. Teachers often end up having to teach without any indications as to how the students perceive their lessons. More importantly, teachers who are not quite tech-savvy find it difficult to conduct classes.
Maintaining the attention of students is getting harder
As mentioned before, all teachers do not necessarily get sufficient time to prepare adequately before their classes. And on the off chance that they scrape together sometimes, students keep getting distracted.
Teachers end up burning themselves out on wanting to create more and more engaging content that will sustain a student’s attention span. With more kids becoming exposed to highly stimulating technology all the time, it is no surprise that the teachers end up having to put in a lot of effort just to keep them interested.
The inability to use the bathroom
This might sound like a very weird reason compared to all the previously mentioned points but serves to be an important one in having a clear understanding of how badly teachers are treated. The first part of the problem is the small openings over the day when they can go to the bathroom, which comes when they have a planning period or lunch break.
The second part of the problem is the sheer lack of faculty restrooms available. This means that even when they manage to find some time to relieve themselves, they are forced to hunt for an available restroom. The situation peaks when the teachers end up using the student restrooms.
Constant disruption of classes
In today’s schools, there is an abundance of extra-curricular school activities taking place all the time. But these activities are often highly disruptive to normal classes. Various announcements about different programs and events are broadcasted throughout all classrooms. This inevitably causes a major break in the overall flow of lessons. Both students and teachers then find it difficult to focus in class.
To top it off, teachers cannot make a stand because these extracurricular activities are quintessential in ensuring that the school gets high ratings. Most parents also want their wards to take part in such activities and so, the administration is forced to comply with it. Ultimately, the teachers end up helpless.
Teachers cannot give failing grades
Teachers are instructed to not penalize students who do not submit their work on time. While this may come as a shock to some, the fact is that, in many school districts, teachers are not allowed to allot failing grades to students who miss assignments.
The explanation is that, since teachers have not seen the actual work, there are no criteria for evaluating it. Therefore, an assignment can only be given a failing grade provided it meets the criteria for that. Simply put, students who do not turn in their assignments manage to get away with it quite easily.
This can be a very damaging process to students in the long run because once most of them enter the workforce, they will be held responsible for not performing within a deadline. So, it becomes important that students are aware that they are accountable for their actions, rather than letting them get away with no repercussions.
Unjust in Schools
Schools very alarmingly are turning out to become highly unsafe places to work. Teachers are already severely weighed down by their very poor working conditions. Adding to that, the potential of losing their lives or that of their students brings in a whole new level of stress for most teachers.
Most people know by now, that schools are often targets for mass shootings. What is even more concerning, is that despite these shootings, proper measures to curtail such tragedies from happening again are not in place even now.
Too much emphasis on test preparation
Schools are always in danger of losing their accreditation due to lower standardized test scores. This results in a tremendous amount of pressure being placed on the teachers to align their teaching methods solely along the lines of preparing students for tests. So, students end up becoming adept at test-taking strategies rather than the content itself.
An even more startling fact is that in certain districts, a teacher merit pay model has been deployed. It entails that the salaries of teachers are based on their students’ test scores. This model can lead to a very toxic environment for both the teacher and student also.
Teachers are not encouraged to speak up
With all these issues and much more rampant in the American education system, one would naturally think as to why more teachers do not speak up? The harsh reality is that most teachers are pressured to keep mum, put on a happy face and somehow just keep going.
Many teachers are also not ready to jeopardize their jobs by speaking up or attempting to take any action against the system. Most of them have bills to pay and families to support, which means they are left with no choice, but to continue teaching in what is a very broken system.
Somehow Americans tend to point out poor salaries as the prime reason behind many teachers leaving their jobs. While this is certainly a factor, the underlying issues are even more important and need to be addressed quickly. The problem goes into the way the system works on a very deep level. To bring about change will not be easy, but for starters awareness about the plight of teachers in the American school system can be spread.
Teachers need to be given better working conditions. There should also be a clearer definition of their responsibilities and their working hours. Fixing the plight of teachers will have a ripple effect, because, as the profession gets better, more and more teachers will come into it, which will increase the quality of education all over the country.
- How do we strike a balance between extracurriculars and academics?
The simplest thing to do would be to only make important announcements during non-class hours. Furthermore, a more defined differentiation should be in place for both students as well as educators.
- What measures can be undertaken to prevent school from unjust?
Schools can draw up evacuation plans, give self-defense classes, and practice scenarios on a very basic level. To take it a step further, more security checks should take place at every entrance to ensure that potential weapons cannot be sneaked in.