Another very big study was just published as to what keeps teachers in their jobs — particularly at urban schools.
It’s worth a read if you have the time (click here) but in a nutshell, here is what they found.
The overall story implied by these results is largely similar to what was learned from the OLS analysis: a supportive principal appears to have a large effect on job attractiveness, and an induction program and curricular flexibility have smaller, but substantial effects. The ethnic composition of the school population has remarkably little influence. (note: this is taken directly from page 9 of their report)
Look, it’s not money that drives us. This is why the national conversation about merit pay is so frustrating. Uh duh… if money were the leading reason why people became teachers they wouldn’t become teachers.
We like the work but want to feel supported. It’s really hard to work in a school — especially an urban school. Even exceptionally challenging at times (almost more difficult than anything we imagined). But at the end of the day, as so many studies prove, teachers want two basic things.
1) To feel supported and be appreciated for our efforts by our campus leaders.
2) To have a certain degree of curricular flexibility so as not be micromanaged by scripted programming/textbook pacing plan nonsense/ district overlords and so on that are not responsive to the needs of our individual students as we best diagnose their aptitudes and necessities.
It’s not rocket science. We need to feel as if someone has our back and that the people who have our back trust us and will serve as a resource to us when times get tough. We want input and solutions and help… not castigation, fear-mongering, blame, or abandonment.
Provide these things and we’ll deal with the challenging salary, demands of the job, crazy hours and so on. But take away a campus leader who is empathetic and encouraging and dictate the lesson plans being implemented to the point of us feeling as if it’s more about all bureaucratic nonsense and a CYA mentality than it is about the kids- – kids who are most assuredly struggling — and the attrition rate for folks like me explodes.
No, we’re not monks and yes, we like and need cash as much as the next person. But life, to us, needs to have some meaningfulness embedded in our day-to-day work and if the two elements above are absent, the meaningfulness plummets and we get the itch to abandon ship.