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Why Do Teachers Stay in the Classroom?

East Hartford classroom

East Hartford teacher Lia O’Connell with her kindergarten students.

Fewer people are entering teacher training programs and lots of veterans say they have considered a new line of work — so why are some teachers committed to remaining in education and what would convince more to stay? Those are the questions NPR posed to experts and teachers themselves recently.

Richard Ingersoll, professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, says one big reason teachers quit is they feel they have no say in decisions that will ultimately affect their teaching. In fact, Ingersoll says, this lack of classroom autonomy is now the biggest source of frustration for math teachers nationally.

“This would not cost money to fix. This is an issue of management,” says Ingersoll whose research focuses on teacher turnover and retention.

Educators’ responses varied, but shared a common focus on the children.

Pam Rhodes commented via Twitter, “There is no feeling quite as amazing as watching a kid work through a challenge, finally ‘get it’, and be proud of himself.”

Bradford Chase responded on Facebook, “I stay because I love the kids. When I close the classroom door, and it’s just the kids and me, I see in them so much potential. They need people who believe in them, people to help them become the best person they can be.”

Read more from NPR.

Why do you stay in the teaching profession?

4 Comments
  1. Linda #

    You assume we ARE staying.

    March 23, 2015
  2. laurie #

    Most teachers stay because they are stuck. We pay into our retirement every paycheck and if we are not over 60 years old and have at least 20 years we loose our retirement money. At 62 and 20 years teachers will only receive 48% of their pay upon retirement. Thirty plus years in the job and 62 yrs old receive more. We also would have to pay for insurance after retirement and as you know teachers work many years before they even receive a decent salary. I am 15 years in and finally earn $82,000 and have been jumping through beauracratic hoops most of that time to keep my certification and I am an excellent teacher. I spend a good portion of that on my students. Why I stay? I don’t have much choice.

    March 23, 2015
  3. lstableford #

    I was quite fortunate in my teaching career. Back in the mid-Sixties, I graduated from Colgate’s first class of MAT students. At the time Westport was booming with school age youngsters and a need for teachers. Six of us here new hires from the university. I began what would be a 43 year stint as a social studies teacher. The administration took a chance on this neophyte, allowing me to grow and grow.

    I agree with Professor Ingersoll in that there seems to be a lack of decision-making capability for teachers in their classrooms. There seems to be a heavy top down approach where teachers are being forced to follow a specified curriculum with little opportunity to design, create, and execute one’s own ideas which might be more reflective of the needs of a particular class.

    For me, in the very early years, the principals and vice principals who I served under allowed me quite a bit of latitude to try various teaching models, allowing me to have both successes and failures, thereby learning the craft of teaching. My stay in teaching was underscored with the mantra “Let it be a challenge to you.” Those many administrators, particularly in my early years, provided the guidance and support for me to meet the myriad of challenges before me.

    I can honestly say I loved it all!

    March 23, 2015
    • John Bestor #

      I strongly agree with the last comment from a teacher I had the pleasure to work with for several years quite a while back. Sadly, the state of teaching has changed for the worst: any art or craft to teaching has been lost to assembly line instruction that fails to engage or energize the minds of young learners. We give lip-service to developing life-long learners, but fail to inspire, challenge their thinking, promote their creativity and innovation. As a result, the dreadful CCSS has destroyed the motivation and dedication of learners as it is fundamentally flawed from its inception. Despite my continued frustration with what is taking place in public education, we must as teachers, both retired and those still working, stand up against corporate reform lies and misinformation and communicate with legislators, both at both the state and federal level in an effort to return teaching to its original purpose. It was good to hear from you.

      March 23, 2015

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