Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why Do Young Teachers Leave the Profession? A Personal Story

I had a heart-wrenching conversation with a former softball pitcher of mine a couple of weeks ago, and she just finished her first year as a full-time teacher. Our conversation has been on my mind since then, and I wanted to share my thoughts here.

Mary (not her real name), who took pitching lessons from me throughout middle and high school, was a first-year teacher this past school year. We've stayed in touch while she was in college and during this past year. From what I know of her (and how she was brought up), she is a hard worker, very friendly and outgoing, takes criticism and coaching well, desires to do a good job, and is enthusiastic.

Mary was a first year teacher in a school system where they issue pink slips to all non-tenured teachers at the end of the school year. When I asked her about her experience, here's what she shared with me...

  • She taught in a trailer/portable, so she was separated from the rest of the school physically
  • She had no technology in the portable except for her own computer (no LCD projector, whiteboard, etc.)
  • She was the head softball coach
  • She was not assigned a mentor (she had to seek out the teacher who had taught the previous year what Mary was currently teaching) and there was no program for new teachers
  • No one visited her classroom except for the required observations
  • She got positive feedback on her evaluations
  • She got a pink slip near the end of the school year
She was heart-broken. She had not gotten any feedback that was negative  and she didn't see this coming. She's currently interviewing for jobs and remains hopeful.

Should we be surprised that so many young teachers leave the profession?

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