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  • Writer's pictureJudy

Aug. 6, 2023: Why Teachers Stay

As our new school year gets underway, there continues to be a teacher shortage. Many years in the making, there are clearly many factors combining to exacerbate the problem of finding enough teachers.

This time of year, media outlets are all posting articles and editorials on this crisis. They are highlighting the fact that with fewer teachers enrolling in teacher colleges, there are fewer teacher candidates. Combine that with the fact that teachers already in the classrooms, are calling it quits in record numbers, this leaves empty positions with no one willing to fill them. The articles try to answer the question of why teachers are leaving.

While that is a valid question that will undoubtedly give us information that may help us to ultimately solve the crisis, I think it is about time someone asked a different question.

Why are teachers staying?

Poor pay. Unreasonable expectations. Lack of respect. Being vilified and attacked. Why does anyone stay in the field of education?

Asking those like me, (I am about to begin my 30th year in a public-school classroom), why we are staying might give more insight into the profession of teaching and what it might take to solve this national crisis.

Why do teachers stay?

- An unfailing belief in public education.

Teachers understand the power of public education for all. Teachers know that the strength of our democracy rests on the belief that everyone deserves access to a quality education, regardless of their income, address, or background. Teachers know that this is a foundational underpinning of the greatness that is our country. And we are willing to work to strengthen it.

- A hunger to learn and grow.

Teachers know that we all must be life-long learners to thrive, and there is no group of people more committed to that than teachers. “Professional Development” is the official term for continuing to grow in pedagogy and content, but that hardly does justice to the learning and growing that teachers continue to do every day of their working life. Whether it is the push to support a struggling student, or the commitment to create a community of learners, teachers are always reading, researching, and refining their own knowledge and practice.

- A desire to make a positive difference.

While there are many professions in which one can engage and make a positive contribution to society and culture, teaching is the personalization of that altruistic goal. Our desire to make a difference is focused on specific children. One group, one child at a time. The relationships we build with our students help them to become the best version of themselves that they can. We work to open minds and help students to build the skills that will allow them to dream big and reach goals. We can see the future every single day.

Like all complex issues, the teacher-shortage crisis will not be solved with quick-fixes. Asking teachers why they are leaving the profession is a great start. But it is also important to understand and value the teachers who are staying. Now, more than ever.

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