The Pathology of Technology

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Monday, April 21, 2008

How to Keep Teachers in the Profession

There is a commonly cited statistic that roughly 40-50% of new teachers leave the profession on their first five years. While I am curious know what other professions benefit from this significant migration, I am more interested in knowing the causal factors in the new teacher’s decision tree.

Is it that they don’t have a mentor to guide them? Could it be a lack of pre-service preparation for motivating and engaging students? Or is it the forces of bureaucracy and organizational stress that wear them down, with their older, wiser colleagues saying, “that’s not the way we do it around here.”

Critics of the education system and NCLB might opine that it is the relentless demand for meaningless, redundant paperwork, unattainable (for some) higher standards, or accountability to single test scores that makes new teachers seek something different for a career.

Or, sadly, is it a breakdown in the social fabric of the student’s and the larger society, with disintegrating respect for all things institutional that makes teachers feel they are waging a war alone and uphill?

Teachers eager to apply their own technological savvy may believe they must suffer lack of school – based resources needed to keep pace with the student’s own arsenal of tools they have at home and in their backpacks.

In the final analysis, a formal one that still needs to be done, it is probably all of these coupled with a lack of time. For any teacher who desires to do the best job they can because they care about the kind of world their students will inherit and because they are deeply concerned about the skills they want their students to develop and apply to making the world a better place, that teacher will not sleep nearly as much as those people in professions that do not require one to take one’s job home with them.

Until we find ways to help teachers and administrators support one another, honor them for their devotion and dedication to their craft and to their students, and give them the autonomy to influence the policies and practices that directly impact their ability to do their jobs, we will continue to endure the consequences of ‘teacher flight” to other more lucrative, more fun, and more engaging careers.

Through the Looking Glass