Article submitted by Mike James of www.axcis.co.uk - a Teacher Education Recruitment company specialising in supply, long-term and permanent teaching jobs.
Recent research has found that the number of Teachers quitting has been the highest we have seen for 10 years, with around 4,000 leaving the profession every month. This is an incredibly frightening statistic, as teachers are an essential part of ensuring the success of the next generation. However there must be a reason for these record levels of ‘quitting’. What has caused this huge change of heart in so many promising teachers and what can we do to stop or at least slow down this change of heart?
Why is this?
To cut straight to the point; the sacrifices seem to be outweighing the benefits when it comes to teaching, at whatever level. There is a misinformed saying ‘those that cannot do, teach’ that seems to assume that teaching is an easy profession that is done when someone fails in life at becoming a biologist or a theorist or an athlete or even a writer or an actor. This is most certainly not the case. Some people go through their young lives wanting to impart knowledge on others, or love the idea of being able to drive another person – like themselves – onto bigger and better things.
Another misconception is that the life of a teacher is a relatively easy one. With a 9-3:25 work day, breaks in between and 12 weeks of holiday throughout the year? Easy! Wrong. Often the working day of a teacher does not begin and end with the tolling of the school bell. People forget to factor in lesson plans, homework plans, homework marking, grading, student assessments, progress reports, teachers meetings, conferences, improvement courses and a whole list of other duties that teachers have to consider almost every week. The holidays may be long but the hours are certainly longer and with more and more children needing school places, it doesn’t seem to look any better.
Teachers often feel misrepresented and under-appreciated, particularly when the blame for a slow-learning student or a disruptive child is placed upon them, when in realistic circumstances most of the damage is already done before the child has even set foot in their classroom. It is important to remember that teachers are human beings too. Their job is to teach, to teach the core principles of the subject they are focusing on and to guide students towards better things. However in some cases they are also expected to be nurses, personal psychologists and occasionally even parents for confused and sometimes frustrated children. It can be a lot to ask.
What can be Done?
Overcrowding can be a real problem in many schools, as more and more children are crammed into classes, with teachers barely able to cope. Teaching assistants can only do so much to help and with young adults pushed into teaching without much training or preparation as to what is actually expected of them, on occasion it is no surprise that they are soon running for the hills!
Teaching envelopes a huge responsibility and there is a pressure on teachers to be multi-talented superheroes. They must keep the content fresh while at the same time adhering to the local curriculum, focus on individuals while maintaining an overall average decent grade. It is a stressful procedure! One fantastic way of helping young teachers and aging teachers is to balance out this responsibility.
Encouraging Responsibility in Parents
Many teachers believe that parents could do more to assist in the raising of (their own!) children and that many responsibilities are unfairly left up to the parent. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t see a new headline in the local news of a disgruntled parent claiming foul play when it comes to their child having broken a uniform rule, or having failed to present a valid doctors note for truancy or some similar issue. Who is to blame for these discrepancies? The teaching staff for imposing ridiculous, impossible dress code and other rules? Or the parents, for remaining lenient in the teaching of their children so that they feel privileged to dress and act however they like? I am exaggerating for arguments sake, but there have been some extreme cases.
It is ever so crucial that teachers and parents come together as a united front in assisting a child’s natural development and education. Often there is very much an ‘us versus them’ attitude when it comes to raising issues with a parent and child, and teachers can feel rather put out. Remember, teachers in general are there to help your children, not to make them look silly! You need to work this out together.
Encouraging Children to become Teachers
Another well proposed idea is to encourage children from a young age to consider a career in education as a very real possibility. In many cases teaching is pushed to the side in favour of the core subjects, as well as helping children to pursue a more focused career, such as ‘banking’ or ‘retail’ or ‘chemistry’ whereas ‘teaching’ is a very valid career in itself.
Traits manifest themselves very easily in children and it can be quite easy to pick out the scientists and the writers and the athletes from groups of children in the playground. Why not teachers? Leadership qualities are revered, yet reminding your peers of the rules or even trying to enforce those rules is deemed as ‘bossy’, which is considered a negative trait. We can use these traits to gently steer children towards teaching as a career.
Inspiration and Innovation
By inspiring young children and young adults to become teachers we will in turn be able to facilitate our growing population, thus potentially offsetting any negative repercussions of the recent teaching shortages. It is incredibly important to be able to recognise a will to teach and a love of teaching others in children from a very young age, so that we can nurture this trait into fruition. It is time to set the record straight and start putting forth the message that teaching is a rewarding and respectable career.
So many children grow up thinking that teaching is a ‘fall back’ from whatever they want to really do. It is important to praise teachers as their own form of success and highlight the fantastic good that is to be done in becoming a teacher. After all, inspiring children is one of the most rewarding jobs you could have, as the possibilities are potentially limitless!