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Why Do Teachers Quit?

Why Do Teachers Quit?

Author:
Posted: April 16, 2009
Category: Why Teachers Quit




1042481_at_the_bottomI got a comment on one of my articles about quitting teaching last night that touched my heart. I will respond to her more in depth later on today, but I don’t have time right now to get back except for briefly. I thought I would use the opportunity to tap the resources of the SYWTT community and throw the question out to the readers for some feedback.

She writes in part:

I think it is too late for me. In my 2nd year of teaching 5th grade – first year barely made it and this year is worse. I definitely have some helth issues that have just sucked away my creativity this year. I always struggled with lesson plans and being an engaging teacher. This year nothing is working and worst of all I did not get a good review this year. It is obvious the handwriting is on the wall. That would make me sad because when it did work, it was the best feeling in the world. If I had a second chance, things would be different, but I donít think it will happen. I need a game plan to get through the next 8 weeks with an out of control class, an admin that is after me. Any advice?





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Comments

    1. Scribbler says:

      When I get an out of control class I go ‘old school on they ass’. No fancy pedagogy for them. Book work and lots of it comes their way. This gives me breathing space and an opportunity to nip behaviour problems in the bud before they escalate. Fancy, ‘engaging’ teaching only works for me when i have control first. Class socio-economic demographics may hinder this approach though. And Year 5 is a foreign concept to me (I am a high school teacher). Get control and teaching becomes a lot easier. I look forward to hearing other ideas though, I need more tricks to pull out of my hat.

    2. Drew says:

      Okay, first thing is to realize that it could be too late in the year to gain total control. Are you in survivor mode? Sounds like it.
      If you are worried, go to any of several people, depending on their workload at this time of year.
      Go to your 5th grade lead teacher, even for dinner, to talk things out.
      Go to a school counselor for advice. They can often help you ease into conversations with your appraiser.
      Go to an assistant principal to seek out district resources. Administration will be helpful to an extent, but also know district resources that are available.
      Be prepared to take a day off, maybe 2, and try out some professional development classes. Time away from your class could work wonders.
      If you take a proactive approach right now and line up some summer time professional development, your appraisals will only get better.
      I know that leaves certain things up to you to figure out. School budgets are hard to break into for development classes this late in the year. Our counselors are hard to talk to right now as they prepare our school for the upcoming TAKS test days.
      But, you gotta try. Heck, even just rearranging your room can do wonders. Put the books aside for a day, and just plan things to do with your kids. They love that stuff and a little bonding time could be invaluable.
      And, document everything. Write down what you liked about this year. Make a list of 5 things you will do differently next year. Keep it short and attainable.
      Finally, there are plenty of us 6th grade teachers ready to whip your guys into shape. That’s what we’re here for.

    3. Doug says:

      Invest in a copy of “setting limits in the classroom” by Robert McKenzie and then Advanced Classroom Managment by Lee Cantor.

      Both are really good about managing student behavior before all else. It was a real game-changer for me after my first year.

    4. Miss Teacha says:

      Don’t feel bad, every teacher makes mistakes in their first years of teaching. And your time sounds like my first year of teaching. Kids were out of control and it was survival. I did exactly what Scribbler has said here. Give them assignment after assignment, book work and use DIRECT INSTRUCTION to teach in 15 minute segments. It is what I do with my 7th period.

      And what I’ve found is that there are ALWAYS ring leaders. Reach them and you get the rest. Just yesterday, I finally reached two more of my ring leaders. And it was a great day! Figure out who is causing most of your problems and strike a DEAL! It could be everyday, you exhibit good behavior I’ll give you candy or do this. . . give you $1. Whatever you need to do. I told mine, I’d make sure he passed and he wouldn’t have to repeat. And he’s putting forth a good effort b/c he wants it.

      I don’t know if you want to try this to make it for the rest of the year, but try a STARTOVER! Let me explain what I mean: On a monday, walk in and say, “we’ve had rocky start, lets start over. Everyone has a clean slate. You give me a clean slate.” Establish new rules, new consequences using models you may have found from other teachers. And start like you would a Day 1.

      Don’t try to do ANY activities until the behavior has improved. Trying activities when kids are already out of control does not work. They need them most, but it’s a management issue. My 7th period does nothing but book work b/c they can’t handle anything else!

      Like others have said: Build relationships with fellow teachers, get ideas from them. . . .don’t give up on teaching until you’ve done that. It will make ALL the difference in the world.

      if you’re 5th grade, aren’t you on a team? Why aren’t they mentoring you? I’m surprised that your principal has not established a mentor relationship for you .. . there is NO WAY an administrator can expect someone new to be a perfect teacher.

    5. gYM334 says:

      Do some stuff that is fun for the kids. Ask them. Go outside and sit under a tree, and take turns telling stories, Let them pick some books they want to read. Show them some real history on film. Plant some flowers outside and track the growth, Do some math that means something like planing the building of a tree house, measuring things, determining the angles on tree branches, doorways, catch some bugs, watch and wriye and read about ants. You know, fun, interesting real stuff. And you, stop trying to control little kids, and let them be little kids. You<<—- smile a lot, and love those kids. It will heal you all the way through!!!!

    6. Joel says:

      Great stuff so far, guys! My response is here: http://www.soyouwanttoteach.com/teaching-transition-survival-kit/

    7. Joel says:

      Wow, outstanding job bringing it back to the real world with the compassion there, gYM334. When we get into what Drew called “survival mode” it’s so easy to just focus on our needs (hopes/desires/wishes?) instead of the students. They are the reason we went into teaching after all, right?

    8. Scribbler says:

      I mostly agree. Compassion is essential. It also prevents the classroom becoming an ‘us vs them’ battleground. A smile too goes a long way. If I walk into the classroom all Mr Grumpy Pants then the students will often respond in kind. A smile can lift the mood and enthusiasm of students instantly too. Also real life activities can be great motivators. I worry about the ‘going outside’ bit. Establishing routine with an unruly class is important. Disrupting this routine and taking unruly and disruptive children outside and into an environment without routine and clear boundaries could be playing with fire – especially for an inexperienced teacher. I guess It depends on why the kids are playing up. Are they playing up because of a lack of routine and expectations or are they bored? I should really be taking notes because all of these comments have given me great ideas :)

    9. shizukana says:

      Hye, all of the ideas gave me a mix up feeling in a way. I am new in teaching(less than a year), being a teacher for degree level is much more easier i guess. but sometimes i did go outside the class, sit under the tree and have informal lesson with my students. they like it at the first place.as long as there s a value in a lesson, i think it should be ok..:)

    10. J. Pisano says:

      Joel,

      Great conversaton going on here about this topic. I am very excited to continue to see your audience grow! While, I’m here I just wanted to double check to make sure that you are o.k. with hosting the 1 year anivesary edition of the Music Education Blog Carnival. It will be July’s edition…

      Also, what do you have any thoughts about moving to Disqus as a comment platform? I tried a year ago an didn’t like it because, I could not re-integrate the comments if I decided against it…. They changed it about 3-4 months ago (and you it is now integrated) and I tried it again and am very enthusiastic about the comment community possibilities…

      Best Regards!

    11. siobhan curious: classroom as microcosm says:

      I would suggest reading “The Reluctant Disciplinarian” by Gary Rubinstein. It chronicles his journey from being an out-of-control pushover to being a loved, respected and effective teacher. It is a quick read and contains strategies that you could start applying right away.

    12. shizukana says:

      Before i became a teacher, i was a graphic designer working in industry of entertainment in my country. When i accept the offer to become a lecturer, I’ve got halfhearted feeling because i was forced to.
      I tried to motivate myself by watching movies that related to the teachers and students life and it works for me. One of the movies that works on me was “Gokusen”, its a Japanese movie. Maybe it could helps u too.

    13. shizukana says:

      Thanks “siobhan curios:classroom as microcosm” for sharing the info. I’ll find it out.

    14. allen says:

      I am in the same place she is, except I have been teaching for ten years and have my M. Ed. I just do not seem to be the kind of “team player” they want. I can’t keep my mouth shut when I think we are going in the wrong direction. I am especially tired of being expected to get excited about the new silver bullet that is being pushed every year. I was in a one year position and doubt my district will pick me up again, a position a lot of people are in where I live. Thanks for letting me gripe and vent.

      “I think it is too late for me. In my 2nd year of teaching 5th grade – first year barely made it and this year is worse. I definitely have some helth issues that have just sucked away my creativity this year. I always struggled with lesson plans and being an engaging teacher. This year nothing is working and worst of all I did not get a good review this year. It is obvious the handwriting is on the wall. That would make me sad because when it did work, it was the best feeling in the world. If I had a second chance, things would be different, but I donít think it will happen. I need a game plan to get through the next 8 weeks with an out of control class, an admin that is after me. Any advice?”

    15. Joel says:

      Allen: Advice? Get started on the Total Teacher Transformation series (start here) and begin working through each of the daily assignments. See if things start changing for you. I think they will…at least this was pretty much the situation I found myself in when I started implementing these things and it absolutely changed everything for me.

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