Thursday, June 21, 2007

I've become a statistic.

One that is costing our school district millions of taxpayer dollars:

Teacher Turnover Costs Systems Millions, Study Projects

Of course I've known about teacher turnover since I started paying attention. In the U.S., most public school faculties are comprised of mostly under-30s and over-50s teachers (the latter group comprised of both people who have been in the profession forever and a new crop of "career changers" who, having gone through years of a "real" job, now are fulfilling the teaching bug--often their worldly experience translates to inspirational awesomeness in the classroom; sometimes it is a less fortunate transition). Most teachers will leave the profession within the first five years. In tough areas, the rate is higher. In districts like PG (where I work/ed), the call of nearby districts (cough, cough, Montgomery, cough, cough) with higher pay and better conditions make the teacher exodus more pronounced.

I've thought about this a lot. Especially because I'm pretty good at teaching, I love it, and I see what a huge need there is to retain teachers like me for the long haul. I know I would be much better at this if I stayed continuously at it for a long time. However, I'm leaving, like most of my peers.

It's weird, because I'm not really leaving the profession... yet. I'm going to be teaching in Korea, but it's not the same as teaching in the states (I guess that's a big part of the point). I've known since before I started teaching that I would not stay teaching forever--at least not at the same place, not straight through. I want to see the world a bit. I want to write more. I still might want to try my hand at grad school to become a college prof. Then again, I might want to come back to teaching here after spending some time traveling about--I love working at the hotline and doing community theater, and maybe now that my master's is (almost) done, I'll have enough time to do that without it taking away from my ability to do my job well and such. We'll have to see...

I'm not dreadfully comfortable being a statistic. Are there things that would have induced me to stay? Sure... smaller/fewer classes, more supported time for collaboration and non-teaching duties (including grading), less abuse/harassment from parents, a profession that I don't have to be made to feel like a second-class citizen (HOW many men have, in the process of hitting on me, made some comment along the lines of "it must be nice to have summers off..." or "I bet you're the teacher all the boys want to sleep with..." or some other ridiculously inane comment that suggests an ignorance of and sexualization of one of the most demanding, important jobs for our children outside of parenting??? Not every female teacher is just waiting around until she meets the right man to start having kids and becoming a homemaker... sheesh).

Ultimately, though, these things would have made it harder to leave, but I might still have gone. Because leaving teaching, for me, is not running away from all the bad shit we have to put up with (oh and yes, that is a considerable amount of smelly doody). I am going to start my own adventures. And in the end, if I come back here and come back to teaching, I will know it's because I want to be here, and I will have no regrets about what might have been.

1 comment:

  1. I used to work for the Department of Defense (you can read about that here if you're interested) - and our office was the same - a whole bunch of 50+ agents who were nearing retirement, and those of us under 30 who were all looking to leave ASAP. Like I did :-)



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