Teacher disaffection grows

I’m not a therapist, but I submit that the difficulty in recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest to the classroom has little to do with the distinction between burnout and demoralization (“Many Frustrated Teachers Say It’s Not Burnout – It’s Demoralization,” edsurge.com, Nov. 19).  I say that because the net effect is the same.

When students are in college working on their bachelor’s degree, especially today with the cost of tuition so steep, they are highly attuned to news about the career they are considering after graduation.  They know from their friends just a year or two ahead of them that teaching is not what they thought it would be.  Idealism quickly fades, as the reality of the classroom takes hold.

Trying to make a case that burnout is different from demoralization seems to be largely a matter of degree.  That’s important to keep in mind, but it does not do much to solve the problem.  The military has long made troop morale a high priority.  It does not try to parse the difference between burnout and demoralization.

I see little hope that today’s college graduates will choose the classroom as a lifetime career.  Why should they when they can make far more money with far less stress in other fields?

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2 Replies to “Teacher disaffection grows”

  1. Agree that recruiting new teachers and retaining current teachers are major problems for many/most school systems. Somewhat surprised, given that teaching offers relatively stable employment + decent benefits at a time when the “gig” economy means that many relatively talented people find it difficult to obtain stable employment with decent benefits.

    Perhaps the more-talented people (recent grads as well as current teachers) can beat the odds and find good non-teaching jobs with stable employments and decent benefits (or a very high salary that adequately compensates for instability and mediocre benefits). That suggests that people who are average-talented or less-than-average-talented are the ones who will be looking for teaching jobs or staying in current teaching jobs. That would make sense. But, from the little I’ve read re the “teacher shortage”, the “experts” are not citing poor quality of applicants/current teachers as a problem but rather — as your post indicates — suggesting that the problem is not enough people applying and/or current teachers staying, period.

    My opinion — the main obstacle (to recruiting/retaining teachers who are talented enough to get other decent jobs) is the depressing amount of student misbehavior that teachers have to deal with in all but the highest SES school systems + even in some of those high-SES school systems, teachers get a lot of grief from students (although the kind of misbehavior might be different than in the lower-SES school systems) and particularly from parents.

    In the DC suburbs, it’s actually pretty hard to get a job teaching in the schools — particularly the high schools — that have the strongest academic reputations. The teachers in these schools rarely leave their schools for other jobs, but instead stay to retirement or leave due to family decisions. As a result, there are relatively few teacher vacancies in these schools and when vacancies occur in these schools, they are usually snapped up by extremely well-credentialed applicants (often well-regarded experienced teachers at schools in the same system that have weaker academic reputations). Conversely, it’s relatively easy to get a job teaching in the schools that have the worst academic reputations — that is, the schools were minor misbehavior is endemic.

    Likewise, my personal anecdotal experience is that virtually every teacher I have ever spoken with (except those who teach in the very-strong-academice/high-SES schools) complains bitterly about how the kids are “out of control”, how they have to devote so much effort to just maintaining order in the classroom, and — often — how the school administrators don’t support them re misbehavior issues (or, worse, how the school administrators side with the misbehaving kids or the misbehaving kids’ parents against the teacher).


  2. Labor Lawyer: Although salaries have increased, thy have not kept pace with what talented grads can earn elsewhere. That’s particularly the case for those in science and math. There was a time when teachers acted in loco parentis. But that era is gone, replaced by students who don’t respect authority. The student rights revolution of the Sixties has created an entirely different atmosphere than what existed in the past. Exacerbating matters is constant pressure to boost test scores. There are still a few exceptional high schools where teaching takes place. Too often, however, maintaining order is t he top priority.


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