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Why Do Teachers Quit?

Why Do Teachers Quit?

Author:
Posted: April 1, 2008
Category: Why Teachers Quit




DISCLAIMER: Please read all of the comments and this article before taking this things too seriously. The reasons given in here are real concerns that I have, but they are definitely outweighed by a number of much more positive elements of teaching.

For a more serious look at the situation, please read 9 Reasons To Quit Teaching (And 10 Reasons To Stick).

I have been an advocate for teaching and getting new blood into the teaching pool since I started my blog. I love teaching. But I can’t see myself as a teacher much beyond this school year. At least in the traditional sense of the word.

So I give up. I am quitting my teaching job after this year.

Why would I do this?
There are a lot of reasons, and they have been piling up slowly for years. More recently, there have been a number of events in my life that really have caused me to sincerely doubt the value of the impact I am making on the lives of my students. So I turned in my letter of resignation yesterday.

I figured I would compile a list of 10 reasons (and these are just the ones I want to publicly air) I am quitting my job as a band director.

  1. Administrative hoops I have to jump through
    TAKS testing. Lesson planning. 504 modifications. I like my principal (and all of them I’ve worked for so far), but the administrative web that has been set up from the top down really wears on me.
  2. Paperwork
    Budgeting. Fundraising. Travel requests. Purchase requisitions. Grades. Tardy admit slips. Report cards. Progress reports. Music stores coming to collect instruments from kids whose parents haven’t paid.
  3. I am not valued enough
    I don’t get paid nearly what I am worth. In fact, looking at some of the data on Jonathan’s blog, I don’t get paid even half of what I might get if I taught in New Jersey or California.
  4. Parent emails
    How many times do they need to ask the same question before they are satisfied that they will get the same answer? I mean, the kids don’t even ask me if they can go to the restroom as much as some of these parents ask if I really mean after school rehearsals are mandatory.
  5. Students who don’t realize “No” is the final answer
    Evidently their parents have trained them that if they ask the same thing enough times, they’ll get a different answer. Somehow they think I am as permissive as their parents are.
  6. Curriculum
    As a band director, I have no predetermined curriculum. I have to make everything up on the fly. I mean, I know what three keys the band will be required to know at UIL Sight Reading, but that’s about it. When I taught beginning band, I had no predefined goals other than “Make sure they sound good and stay in band.”
  7. Too many negative ninnys
    I get so sick of walking into the teachers lounge during lunch and hearing nothing but gossip about students. Get over it already!
  8. Complainers who aren’t solvers
    With all the negativity comes lots of finger-pointing. But nobody seems willing to step up to bat and figure out a solution. They are like the kid who comes in from making mud pies and complains about dust on the kitchen floor.
  9. It’s just an elective
    While I understand the value of the core classes and the state-mandated testing as far as school accountability and ratings go, I also understand that the ancients were onto something when they included music in the list of the seven essential liberal arts. But I routinely have students pulled out of band to go to dyslexia, math, reading, and science tutorials.
  10. High school football games
    As a middle school band director, I don’t think it’s fair that I have to travel to the out of town football games with the high school band. Some of the nondistrict games are as much as five hours away. All on a yellow school bus. The same goes with me having to go to the high school marching contests. I like the high school kids and all, but enough it enough.

So what will I do instead?
The opportunities are limitless.

  1. I would like to consider going overseas and teaching English in an environment that is much less hostile to teachers.
  2. I have seriously pondered taking up a career as a freelance writer.
  3. I’ve always it would be to have a career conducting staff development trainings. Topics could include classroom management, integrating music into the curriculum, or even who blogging can make you a better teacher.
  4. I have made friends in the music instrument repair and fundraising communities. Maybe sales or marketing of that nature.
  5. I could always go to seminary and get a Masters in Biblical Studies. That’s been a dream of mine for years. Maybe now is the time to do that.

What about you? If you had a chance to start a completely new career with the skillset you had gained from six years in the classroom, what would you do?





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Comments

    1. Anthony says:

      Joel,

      For eight years I taught and coached in the state of Texas at Katy I.S.D. outside of Houston. Like what seems to be happening to you, I got burnt out by many of the the things you stated here and as a result, I really began to lose my passion and enthusiasm for teaching. Rather than leave teaching, I decided just to leave Texas and took an overseas teaching job. I went to an overseas job fair at the University of Northern Iowa and after considering offers in Venezuela, India, & Japan, I decided to take a job in South Korea. It’s by far one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. I’ve grown tremendously as an educator thanks in part to the professional development paid for by the school as well as being able to work with other international educators who teach students how to learn, not how to pass the TAKS. The school is rich in technology as it is an Apple 1:1 school and we as teachers are given a great deal of flexibility and freedom in deciding the curriculum. You can learn more about the school I am at (www.kis.or.kr) and I’d be happy to answer any additional questions you may have on teaching overseas.

      My advice to you is not to quit teaching, just quit teaching in the state of Texas.

    2. Miss A says:

      I am shocked!!!! Are you sure? I thought you really loved teaching. I never expected to hear this from you. I wish you well in all of your future endeavors. I’m sorry that your school district will be loosing such a positve asset.

    3. Miss A says:

      what a terrible april fools joke!

    4. Kristin S. says:

      I really hope this is an April Fools joke… You and your blog are the only thing getting me through student teaching (or as I like to call, my short vacation in HELL). Maybe when I wake up tomorrow this will all be a dream :-(

    5. Waski_the_Squirrel says:

      The date is a bit telling, but even so, you bring up some valid points.

      Personally, I wouldn’t teach in Texas. The pay is quite a bit lower in my state (North Dakota), but the teacher generally has more freedom to do a good job. While we have testing, the testing culture has not yet taken over the schools.

      The things you describe do turn many good teachers off on teaching. With some of the silliness I’m presented with, I wonder at times why I bother putting up with it. Of course, most jobs have the silliness and ridiculous paperwork in one form or another.

      Were I do do something else, I would look into either architecture or writing (science fiction). I design buildings for fun and I think it would be interesting to design houses or schools. I also write science fiction for fun, so that would be a natural fit as well.

      What keeps me in teaching is that I realize that if the people who care about it leave, the only ones left will be those who don’t care and the bureaucrats.

    6. Benjamin Baxter says:

      April Fool’s? Eh.

      Trouble is, outside April Fool’s — and on any other blog — this post would be wholly credible.

    7. Athena says:

      Please say it is an April Fool’s Joke!!!!

      Athena

    8. Joel says:

      Okay, okay. Read the disclaimer I added at the top, and also read tomorrow morning’s article. Thanks for all of your support. I won’t do this again…

      If you ask me, I think the biggest giveaway was both the picture, as well as the lack of any links in the entire article.

      @Anthony
      I have seriously considered going overseas for the summer sometime or something like that. I will definitely keep your pointers in mind. I must admit TAKS has gotten a bit out of hand. I found this video on Betty’s blog today that pretty much sums it up:

    9. Jonathan says:

      You sort of inspired a post

    10. Kelly @ Pass the Torch says:

      What an interesting blog you have here! I did exactly this, after nine years as a school counselor. I started a company to invent and market educational games, did consulting work and eventually started writing as well. My first book is due for release this summer. Now I’m back as a school counselor part time, and feel this might be a way to keep it all. I’ll be curious to continue reading about your journey. Best wishes.

    11. dkzody says:

      I am going to leave teaching in 2010 and go back into the private sector. I am already looking into jobs that would use my marketing talents with which I earned a living for 13 years before going into teaching. I sure enjoy all the holidays, and my husband reminds me that I will not get June and July off in industry, but I am tired of the insanity of an inner city school where I have taught for 19 years. Not only does the administration not respect what I do, most of the kids don’t either. I work harder than any of my students do.

    12. Joel says:

      Ya know, it’s always in the back of my mind to quit teaching. I think great teachers are also inspired to move on to something else. I mean, I know I have the heart of a teacher, but that doesn’t mean that I have to stay locked into teaching in a school.

      I used to teach private lessons when I was in college. I was taking a full load of classes and teaching 40 lessons a week for an average of $12 a half hour lesson. 20 hours of work a week for $2,000 a month sure isn’t bad money for a college kid! I could easily move to a large city and bring in more than $20 a half hour now that I have a degree and inflation has brought rates up. If I went into that full time, I could easily be pulling in over $70,000 a year and setting my own hours and all that fun stuff.

      It gets tempting at times, but I know I really do love doing what I am doing now. The option always remains open, though…

    13. Brie says:

      As depressing as this entry is about reasons to quit teaching, I find it to be very reasonable and respectable. I think people going into the profession should be fully aware of what they are getting themselves into, what the perks are, and what the downside of teaching is. Teaching is not for everybody, and it is probably best to shield students from teachers who will have a panic attack the minute they get into the classroom just because they think teaching is a valuable and enriching experience, when in fact, it could be the worst decision they have made in their lives. Being ignorant to the facts won’t make you a better teacher, so amen, preach on.

    14. ex-teacher says:

      Well I entered teaching because I liked kids and like teaching. I have a chemistry degree and worked in a lab before. Well I taught for 3 years and realized the kids nowadays are not what we used to be like. They have no respect for teachers, many coming from single mother/parent families, no one at home to discipline them. I am going back to working in a lab and I am glad I didn’t waste more time into teaching. I respect the teachers who stay on, they are really brave!

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