What Can Be Done about Teacher Turnover?
The most recent issue of Chalkbeat has revealed some highly disturbing trends. As an inspirational education keynote speaker whose family members were dedicated teachers, it is impossible to relate how deeply it bothers me.
“Since the pandemic threw U.S. schools into disarray, many educators and experts warned that more teachers would flee the profession. But in 2020, turnover dipped in many places as the economy stalled, then in 2021 it ticked back up to normal or slightly above-average levels. As this school year  began, widespread reports of teacher shortages suggested that turnover had jumped more significantly.”
Money is the quick-fix
The common (and derogatory) mantra among outsiders usually goes something like this: “How much money do these people need? They already have summers off.”
Teachers are underpaid nationwide however; it is hardly the only stressor.
Among a whole host of reasons teachers are walking off the job include: in-school safety concerns, lack of mentoring, student mental health issues, student behavioral problems, politics, classroom size, workload, lack of qualified candidates to fully staff schools, remote learning issues and fears over infectious diseases.
In case this point has been lost on anyone not in the profession, teaching is difficult. To reduce its problems to sound bites and posturing is unfair. In an excellent article that appeared in Education Week, teachers were asked their opinions on how teachers can become better teachers. Among the excellent suggestions: study constantly and read new material with intention; join a professional learning network; create spaces for students to look in the mirror; try out new things; reflect regularly.
What are the experts saying?
As an inspirational education keynote speaker, I would like to distill these trends and comments into a few significant points.
The greatest strength teachers have is each other. It is not just a matter of more study or experimentation with new methodology rather an acknowledgement that to one degree or another, everyone is in this together.
Have the mindset to honor yourself. If, as a dedicated educator you are longing for the “outside world” to develop the attitude or vision of you as vital, disappointment is bound to ensue. You know your value; you know what you bring to the world; you know the difference you make, so honor that. Embrace that. Most important of all, live that.
Take care of yourself. Don’t ever forget your value. To that end, especially in these difficult times, take care of your needs. It is admittedly a trite expression but remember that strength lies within. Whether more exercise is in order or meditation, better nutrition or a hike in the woods, find the time – even if for 15 minutes a day, to take care of yourself. It is impossible to properly care for someone else, if self-care is neglected.
Stand-up for one another. The challenges are in front of you. They are also in front of the educator next to you. Please honor that. You have worth and value; the entire profession has worth and value and don’t allow others to demean your efforts. Rise together, appreciate one another and most of all celebrate one another.
What can be done about teacher turnover? It starts simply enough: be there for one another; each day, every day. What you do makes a difference. Together you are shaping the world.
To reach Scott Burrows, Inspirational Education Keynote Speaker. contact Scott today at: 520 – 548 – 1169 or through this website.