Why Are Full-Time Teachers Quitting

In these stressful times where huge numbers of teachers are thinking about quitting, and indeed in some cases have already left their positions, schools have been glad of being able to use casual teaching relief services. The moves raise bigger questions, however, as to why it is that so many teachers in Australia and around the world are considering leaving a profession that teachers themselves describe as the most noble and rewarding calling anyone can answer?

Below is some insight into why so many teachers are considering leaving their jobs.

Growing and Unmanageable Workloads

Veteran teachers are finding what was once a life that allowed for a great deal of balance and contentment is now being dominated by an increasingly crowded curriculum and additional work laid on them by their department heads, often as part of meeting some kind of new government-set target or fulfilling a requirements from the state or federal government.

In short, there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to be a teacher anymore. The professional has always involved a lot of out-of-hours work for marking and grading papers, planning lessons, and even creating classroom resources for use during any given week. Teachers are rewarded with regular weekends and long holidays, but so much of this time is being eaten away by new requirements.

Focus Shifting Away from Kids

With an increasing workload and greater amounts of bureaucracy becoming a standard part of a teacher’s life, many teachers find that they aren’t able to enjoy as much the best part of their job, which is helping and watching students in their charge develop and grow intellectually. 

This is born out by the fact that while teachers continue to find their work incredibly rewarding, they are still thinking about leaving. It’s a sign of people doing a job in a way that doesn’t allow them to get to the heart of what that job is really about. In the case of teachers, almost none deny that being a teacher in the more traditional sense is a rewarding career, but it seems they can’t draw that satisfaction as they would want to with the profession as it is.

Salary Stagnation

The debate surrounding teacher’s pay is an interesting one. On the one hand, some people criticize teachers for complaining about not being paid enough when the starting salary in most Australian states is somewhere between $65,000 and $70,000. In fact, the gripe teachers have isn’t with the starting salary, but rather what happens to it as their career goes on.

Starting at that level is good, but where other skilled professions see their salaries quickly rise after reaching their 30s and 40s, teachers find themselves stagnating and falling behind. For many teachers, this is not commensurate with the increased amount of work and responsibilities teachers have as they become more senior. They are not just responsible for children’s development, but that of other educators who come as newly qualified teachers. Statistics show that teachers are frequently behind most professionals with a bachelor degree by the time they are in their 30s, even when starting from the same point in their 20s.

The Craving for Real Work-Life Balance

As things stand, teachers live a kind of extreme lifestyle where they are continuously on a high burn for weeks on end, before getting a holiday, and then returning to the high burn for more weeks and months, then a rest. It’s not a very healthy way to live. We already know that even driving your car in this way — with fast acceleration followed by harsh braking — is bad for the mechanics, how can we assume that it’s good for people’s lives and mental health?

Teachers are looking for alternative careers that will give them evenings and weekends to totally forget about work and focus on their own lives for a while. As far as they’re concerned, it’s not a lot to ask.

Adam Hansen