The 5 Biggest Reasons Why Teachers Quit the Profession

What would you add as #6?

Why teachers quit readers confess

Recently on our Facebook page, WeAreTeachers posted an infographic from the Learning Policy Institute which addressed many of the frustrations and issues teachers are dealing with in today’s education culture. The infographic illustrated the top reasons cited as to why teachers quit the profession.

The topic definitely struck a chord with our readers. We received an overwhelming amount of feedback to the post, with teachers sounding off on issues from challenging physical and emotional work conditions to health and personal reasons.

While these won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s worked in a classroom, here are some of the top reasons why teachers say they quit the jobs they once loved.

1. Challenging work conditions

Cassandra M. tells us, “Educators are bombarded with paperwork, ridiculous curriculum, and lack of time along with unrealistic expectations.”

Joan F. agrees, citing a laundry list of complaints, among them, “Unmanageable class size, lack of materials, crappy building conditions, working 10-15 hour days and weekends, ineffective administrators, frivolous meetings and regulations, no support for discipline problems, etc.”

Being a new teacher can be especially overwhelming and without the proper support, it’s tough to make a go of it. Charissa S. quit her first teaching job after just two months blaming the “inadequate preparation by administration and school board for the school year, the challenging working conditions and unrealistic expectations for first-year teachers.”

Another newcomer, Christine M., found herself frustrated working on contract year to year and credited her departure to “difficulty securing permanent employment.”

2. Not enough support, not enough respect

Many teachers feel the negative effects of what they perceive as a lack of respect. “There seems to be little or no old-fashioned respect for teachers today,” Ann D. tells us. Whether the perceived lack of respect comes from students, parents, or administrators, it takes a toll. “Stress, lack of respect, and support,” says Erin T., “It’s tough, even after 16 years.” Georgianne H. suggests, “How about nerves gone to bits as a reason why teachers are leaving?”

Many teachers report feeling micro-managed by administrators and parents. “Admin just doesn’t respect teachers,” Rosanne O. claims. “We have little to NO say.” Carole R. is frustrated by “lawnmower parents, who expect their child to get an ‘A’ when they are only doing ‘C’ work.”

3. Testing and data collection

The demands teachers are feeling as a result of high-stakes standardized testing and the emphasis on data collection is definitely a hot button issue among teachers who are leaving. Bonnie L. vehemently sums it up with just two words, “Data collection!” and Kevin P. tells us he hates being part of what he characterizes as a “punitive and abusive test-and-punish system.”

Amy L. quit after just three years because of what she calls the “teach to the test” mentality. “My first year, my principal called me into his office and told me to only teach to the standards, not teach anything outside them, and to not tell my students I was trying to prepare them for the real world or college. I started looking for a way out right then.”

4. No longer looking out for kids’ best interests

Bonnie D. left after 30 years of teaching because she felt the system was no longer acting in the best interest of all students. “Everything became all about passing the ‘almighty test,'” she says, “and decisions were made by the administrators to concentrate only on those students who could perform well. Call me old fashioned, but I always did my best to reach and teach every student in my room, not simply the ones who had the best chance of passing a test.”

In addition, many teachers worry about the effect high-stakes testing has on kids. “Sometimes tests coincide with a bad day,” Michelle S. tells us, “or a day when a student is just not feeling it. That is an incredible amount of stress on kids—especially those classified as ‘bubble kids.'”

5. In the end, family takes priority

Teachers are a particularly tenacious lot, but some teachers are leaving because they just can’t fight the system anymore and have decided to invest their energy closer to home. “After eight years of teaching and 20 years of dreaming about teaching, I have left the profession,” says Cedar R., “Due to an overall lack of support, I found it very difficult to balance teaching and raising my two children.”

Heather A. expresses her disappointment this way, “I realized that the school system is broken beyond repair. Years and years of spackle and duct tape just can’t hold it together anymore. When you realize that the system you work for isn’t even an environment you would send your own children to … you quit and homeschool them!”

What do you say, teachers? What issues do you see pushing your colleagues to leave the profession? 

Elizabeth Mulvahill

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a Writer/ Editor for WeAreTeachers and a certified Elementary Teacher.

4 Comments

  1. Mary Mann

    It may well fall under support and respect, but I and my fellow teachers see children’s and parents’ behavior as abominable. We have no recourse and the kids know it. And if you so much as cross your eyes at a child, they (kids or parents) call the police and school board. 10 year olds hold my career in their hands. It’s ridiculous.

  2. Douglas Fox

    and increasingly poor pay and fewer benefits.

  3. Bill Capehart

    These five so very concisely cover everything!
    I can’t think of a 6th!

  4. JanMarie Weston

    This is year 31 for me. I spent 28 years as a classroom teacher and these last three as a librarian. Getting out of the classroom was the best thing for me. The nonsensical testing and the collection of data is such a waste of time. Teachers go into the profession with the intention of helping kids, not doing to testing to justify their jobs. Now I get to spend time with students and I do not have the foolishness that goes along with being in the classroom.

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