Squid Game, the new widely popular Netflix series, has a game in which players must hop from glass step to glass step until they make it across the bridge to the end. If the step they choose is the sturdy tempered glass, it will hold them. If they choose the step with regular glass, they will crash through falling over one-hundred feet to their deaths.
Well, the steps keep being added for educators and there is no tempered glass insight.
So, it follows then that the next logical step is for teachers to hop off the bridge and find a job that doesn’t crush their very spirits and souls into a million tiny pieces.
And the numbers back this up. Over one-third of new teachers leave within five years and over 8 percent of teachers find a new career each school year.
You would think that this would be of enough pressing concern to political leaders everywhere, but just add it to the list of the major reasons why teachers are quitting the profession: No one cares.
1. Lack of support staff
We need and love our support staff. They are leaving for the same reasons we are, and this makes our jobs harder. We now must clean our rooms ourselves if we are short custodians. We must sub on our prep time because there are no subs. And forget about added assistance from aides in the classroom because there are none.
2. Work/Personal life imbalance
Who has the energy for a personal life? We don’t have time to date or help our children with their homework with the work demands of grading, planning, and responding to parents.
3. Administration that has lost themselves
As soon as the administration promotion comes through, they forget what it was like to be a teacher. The newly acquired power erases all memories of the struggles they encountered as teachers. Observations often feel like personal attacks instead of support.
4. Changing programs
We just started getting good at the existing math and reading programs. We have it all organized and extra materials created and then……. Time to change. Let’s spend countless hours unpacking and learning something unnecessary all over again.
5. Out-of-control students
Our students are suffering mentally and taking it out on us. Our classrooms have become unsafe, and we are discouraged and reprimanded when we send kids to the office for discipline or counseling.
6. Parents demonizing teachers
There are absolutely amazing and supportive parents. Then, there are the ones that think their children being distracted by their cell phones is our fault. We are called babysitters on social media and routinely criticized for everything that is wrong with education.
7. Covid concerns
Covid has been the breaking point for many that have contemplated leaving their classrooms behind. They are now doing just that.
8. Health care premiums on the rise
Health care costs have gone up faster than teacher salaries: this means we take a pay cut. Teachers are paying nearly 1500 more a year compared to ten years ago. This comes at a time when we need affordable, quality health care more than ever.
9. Quality of life
With rents and house prices on the rise again, teachers sometimes must work multiple jobs. Yes, we didn’t get into it for the money, but pay us a living wage for goodness sake. We do have advanced college degrees.
10. Lack of support for new teachers
This is the toughest time in education history to be a new teacher. As veteran teachers retire early, more new inexperienced teachers are being thrown into impossible situations without support or mentors. We need to do better.
11. Developmentally inappropriate standards
In the ’70s, kindergarteners were learning how to write their letters in a single school year, now we are expecting complete narratives out of them. Standardized testing questions are written so confusingly that teachers cannot even understand what they are asking.
12. Bloom before Maslow
Teachers are fed up with testing being crammed down the throats of students who are not mentally and physically healthy. The social and emotional needs of students are given mere lip service while doing well on meaningless tests continue to be at the forefront of the minds of people in charge of our schools.
13. Being held responsible for a student’s failure
We do our absolute best to ensure that a student is learning. But, some students refuse any and every type of assistance we offer. When these students fail, we hear, “You didn’t do enough.”
14. Politics before people
Common Core, NCLB, ESSA, and countless other failing government mandates have been forced upon us to improve education. And let’s implement all of them without asking the teachers what they think. How’s that been working?
15. Overwhelming stress
According to the Rand study, stress is the leading reason why teachers leave education. Every job has stress, but not every profession feels the weight of entire communities on their shoulders while people that can help look the other way.
What would help?
That tempered glass foundation that we speak of is respect, strong supportive leadership, positive climate, value, and adequate compensation. That will be strong enough to hold us.
Without this durable base, we are absolute goners.