We Can Prevent Good Teachers From Leaving the Classroom and It Starts With Respect

Respecting teachers

I love my job. I do. I love greeting my students each morning at my classroom door. I love seeing the lightbulb moments when they seem to grasp a new concept. I love what I do. I love who I do it for—but there’s something that has made me question whether I will return to this classroom I love next school year.

It’s the lack of respect. I’ve tried to ignore it. I’ve tried to simply wish it would get better and pray about it. However, at some point, I started realizing that it may never get better. In the four years I’ve been a teacher, I haven’t witnessed the lack of respect improve in the slightest; instead, it’s been a steady decline. I’m just not sure I am capable of coping with it for the next 26 years, so I’ve been forced to consider other options

I’ve had this ongoing list in my head of all the things that could be done to drastically improve the situation and convince amazing, qualified teachers on the brink of leaving to stay. If those making the rules and dishing out the respect (or lack thereof) would listen to me, I’d tell them:

1. Respect our time.

Many of us have kids of our own; we’d like to spend our evenings with them instead of grading the papers we couldn’t grade during our “planning” periods because we had to watch someone else’s class last minute. Then, are we paid for those hours? Of course not. It hurts to see employees in other jobs being paid for working overtime when it’s expected teachers should often work for free.

2. Respect our qualifications.

A Bachelor’s degree is no easy (or cheap) feat. Many of us have a Master’s degree. We shouldn’t have to work a second (or third!) job to make ends meet and give up our holidays and vacations that we so desperately need in this line of work. Respect the value we bring to our students and all the preparation that went into it.

3. Respect our health.

When we do more than what our job description entails (which we do, every day), don’t keep pushing us to do more. At some point, we are forced to place boundaries around our physical and mental health—and then we’re often seen as the bad guy for implementing them.

4. Respect our methods.

We understand that we have programs that need to be followed and there is a certain way to do things—but the micromanaging is a bit ridiculous. We spend so much time detailing lesson plans, we don’t have as much to actually use them. We spend so much time “documenting” every move that we forget the point behind all of it. I know in my heart that you’d be completely amazed at what teachers could do with more freedom and more trust in THEIR methods.

What if we shifted how we viewed these things?! What if we listened to the ones really struggling—the teachers? Only then will you understand what changes need to be made. Most of the changes aren’t very groundbreaking—imagine a world where there are enough substitute teachers and school supplies. Imagine a world where teachers have the time to pour into each of their students because many tedious (often useless) tasks have been taken off their plates. Imagine an environment where everything that benefited the teacher then positively affected the students—who should be our number one concern in all of this. When you listen to the teachers, you are listening to the students. When you respect a teacher, it has this amazing snowball effect; if you would just listen to even SOME of our pleas, then we could meet MORE of these children’s needs. Imagine an environment where most teachers weren’t experiencing burnout; a world where teachers didn’t have a reason to go on strike or fight for their rights that are constantly taken away. Just imagine. 

We’d have the absolute BEST job in the world if it weren’t for the lack of respect. We want to stay—but sometimes we have no choice but to leave. That won’t change until teachers are respected and people realize that by investing in our teachers, we’re investing in our future. 

Also Read:

We Can Prevent Good Teachers From Leaving the Classroom and It Starts With Respect

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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