When did you first realize that you were called to be an educator?
As a child, I can recall teaching "classes" full of stuffed animals, dolls, a few live puppies, and even a captive audience of neighborhood children. But it wasn't until high school that I really knew I wanted to be a teacher. It was an ordinary day during my sophomore year in high school, in the middle of a world history lecture, that I remember thinking to myself -- Yes, I want to be a high school history teacher.
I was watching my history teacher, Mr. Sterling, at the time, and I could sense his ease with the content, his passion, and his excitement. When he wasn't captivating me with his ponderings on the state of Abu Dhabi, he was likely teasing me after catching me waving out the door to my boyfriend for the 100th time that semester, or encouraging me to keep going after I missed that one point I needed to meet the goal I'd set for myself in the class.
I knew he was doing exactly what he was called to do in this world -- and I knew I wanted to do that, too.
I loved teaching. And that's why I know that making the decision to leave the classroom is one of the most difficult decisions an educator will ever make.
Yet, for more than a decade, we've been having an ongoing conversation about teacher shortages and the difficulties we now face recruiting and retaining teachers. Notably, the data suggests that retention is no longer an issue that only impacts teachers in their first five years, but that teachers are leaving their classrooms in increasing numbers throughout the trajectory of their careers. This is a problem we must address, and we believe that you can help!
Why Are Teachers Leaving?
Teachers cite a number of reasons for leaving the classrooms they love, including challenging work conditions, inadequate compensation, unreasonable expectations, too little support, too little respect, no voice in decision making, excessive high-stakes testing and data collection, impacts of stress on teacher wellness, difficulty balancing teaching and family, and more.
All of these reasons are important issues that we must address in education to keep our best, most effective teachers in classrooms with the students who need them. However, a more important question to ask may be, in spite of all of the reasons a teacher may cite to leave, what are the factors that build teacher resilience, help teachers beat the odds, and support a long, successful career in the classroom?
We Want To Know Why Teachers Stay
What if I told you there's a teacher out there struggling who needs you -- would you share your ideas, your resources, your story?
We know that new teachers need support, and the Teaching Channel community is all about getting better together. Whether you're a new teacher, a mentor, or a master teacher, you have the strategies, resources, and experiences to share that will make a difference for teachers as they grapple with the issues that could be the deciding factor as to whether they stay in the classroom or leave the profession.
That's why we want you to join our Tchers' Voice blogger community, so you can share your voice and make an impact on teachers who need your story, advice, and practical solutions.
Tch is seeking a variety of blog ideas, including practical tips, lessons learned, problems solved, resource lists, and strategies that work — all with teacher recruitment and retention in mind.
We hope to touch on the issues teachers face today, like the aforementioned reasons teachers leave, but also on the issues of wellness, grit, growth mindset, communication, planning, classroom management, school and classroom culture, leadership, teacher voice, education policy, and more -- issues that just might make the difference for teachers who find themselves asking, Is it time to leave?
So, send us your blog post ideas — there's nothing to lose! If we love your submission, the Tch Editorial Team will reach out to get you started as a Tchers' Voice Blogger.
We hope you're as excited as we are about the opportunity to continue getting better together!
Lisa Hollenbach is Editorial Content Manager for Teaching Channel. She’s a former high school Social Studies teacher and Department Chair, an adjunct professor, working with pre-service social studies teachers and behavioral science students, and serves as a mentor for the Teacher Leadership program at Mt. Holyoke College. Lisa is passionate about storytelling, teacher voice and leadership, collaboration, innovative instruction, social learning, and redefining professional development. Lisa is a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council, several ECET2 Steering Committees, and is a Co-Founder, Director, and Writing Coach for the National Blogging Collaborative, a non-profit organization that cultivates and supports the capacity of all educators to use their unique voice to elevate the craft of teaching and learning. Lisa leads the Collaborative in engagement and social media storytelling. Connect with Lisa on Teaching Channel, on her blog, or on Twitter: @lisa_hollenbach.