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Tools For Success

1200629_craftsman_1Last weekend, I began considering Why do teachers quit? As someone who is very interested in maintaining a strong educational system, and someone who wants to see children get the best education possible, it is an important question to me.

As we continue pondering this, we want to begin this weekend looking at some ways that we might be able to keep teachers from quitting.

If there is a problem, find the underlying source
Simply realizing that teachers quit is not the answer. Simply treating symptoms may solve the problem on an isolated basis, but it doesn’t really begin to scratch the surface of where we really need to be working. So we need to dig a little deeper and see if we can find the foundational problem that keeps many teachers from continuing.

Teaching is a lonely profession
Too often, I see that teachers isolate themselves. Being closed-minded doesn’t help, but even those who are open-minded and receptive to correction simply don’t get that correction. We have too much to teach, not enough time to teach, and too many students to teach. Perhaps.

But is being busy really a solid argument against collaboration, or should it rather be an indicator that we probably need to be doing more collaboration than we currently are?

The general pattern I see is that younger teachers usually know they don’t have all the answers, but they don’t even know where to begin asking questions. Older teachers generally have survived without asking too many questions, and so they rarely volunteer information to younger teachers who really do need the help. So we have a self-defeating cycle going on here.

My assertion is that most teachers quit teaching because they lack the tools for success, they don’t know where to find the tools, and nobody is offering to give them the tools. So their search sadly often leads them to other fields.

Joel Wagner
Joel Wagner (<strong><a href="">@sywtt</a></strong>) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. <strong><a href="">So You Want To Teach?</a></strong> is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

4 thoughts on “Tools For Success

  1. Most of the time, I enjoy teaching. I do tend to isolate myself, however, because I simply can’t stand listening to the other teachers call students stupid, trashy, etc. It seems that almost everyone else does it, and after offering an alternate viewpoint, I prefer not to be around it. Anyone who can stay positive and yet flourish in the environment that is Texas public schools has my respect and admiration.

  2. Yeah, I thought I wrote this on my blog here, but it must have been a comment I left on another site. I think I’ve been leaving some of my best material on other blogs lately. Such is the nature of commenting! :)

    I avoid the teachers lounge as much as possible. If I could find the comment I left, it was golden. I really should start taking notes on some of the subjects I write about and flesh them out more on my blog. Thanks for inspiring me to do that.

  3. I am currently midway through student teaching and am struggling with classroom management (surprise!). I am not really getting any feedback from my cooperating teacher, other than “use short, quick redirects” and “your emotions are too transparent to students”. I worked in business for 18 years prior to this experience and I’m just struggling with how to try and turn a tense situation around. I have read through the articles posted on this site and they have given me some good ideas to work with. Here is my question: What can you do to turn around a tense relationship with students who do not regard you as “the person in charge”? (I hear comments that because I am a student teacher, I am a “fake” teacher, what I do with students does not count, etc. ). Not surprisingly, I am really thinking that teaching might not be for me.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

  4. Ms. Amici, that’s some great stuff you have there. Can I hold off on answering until later? I will open it up for discussion on Friday and see where that leads us.

    Real quickly, how do you calm tense relationships? I think the number one thing is to understand where the kids are coming from. In my situation, I teach middle school. So when my kids do something crazy, it’s usually because they are in middle school. It functions as an all-around excuse. But that, as well as these tips should help out quite a bit.

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