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1380999265447Back in the 1970’s there was a far more optimistic climate about teaching. By 1974, in my 4th year of teaching at a NYC high school with over 150 colleagues and by contacting many teachers in other schools regardless of level I found, way back then, that many teachers had already “burnt out” approximately by year 5. So for my Masters thesis in 1974 I decided to look at teacher burn out, a very common term to describe a big drop off of energy, involvement, and in some cases competency.

There were a variety of reasons but a sizable percentage just started to go along to get along…. go through the motions. Given the more pro union (although that didn’t necessarily equate to pro teacher) sentiments at the time, it is easy to see why so many stayed in the profession then, even though they weren’t as highly motivated as  when they started. Many stayed more for the job security than the low income  and little positive reinforcement.

What’s changed?

Increased anti Union sentiments.

Less job security.

High Stakes Testing that unfairly determines job security and school closings.

Uniform CCSS.

Anti teacher policies and scapegoating.

Less teaching, more obedience.

Far less security.

The list goes on and on. What has remained?

Low income and little positive reinforcement.

So, it isn’t surprising to me that over the past 15 years more and more teachers leave earlier and earlier in their careers. I have witnessed some of the bravest and most dedicated teachers just throw up their hands and say, it’s time. Instead of working far past the earliest retirement opportunity, as was once the norm, they left as soon as they could. It also isn’t surprising that fewer teachers want their kids (both biological and their “in class” kids) to grow up to be teachers. The number of college students who see teaching as a long term career is at its lowest point.

I dont know what to tell you. I agree withTim Stelar’s premise. (http://bustedpencils.com/2015/11/no-more-teacher-resignation-letters/)

If teachers don’t stay and fight, the reformers have increased their winning ways, but I for one, through both observation and research (going all the way back to the 1970s), have found that teachers as a whole are not the most courageous of people. They are as a group more docile, and passive. They are not likely to do as Tim asks.

The bigger question to me is how do we change the system to get more and more smart, creative, inspiring, and maybe even more assertive college kids to dive into these shark infested teaching waters we once did.