Teacher Workload and Teacher Turnover
Many teachers work more than 40 hours a week, including school duties performed outside the classroom. Part-time schedules are more common among kindergarten teachers. Although most school districts have gone to all-day kindergartens, some kindergarten teachers still teach two kindergarten classes a day. Most teachers work the traditional 10-month school year, with a 2-month vacation during the summer. During the vacation break, those on the 10-month schedule may teach in summer sessions, take other jobs, travel, or pursue personal interests. Many enroll in college courses or workshops to continue their education. Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 8 weeks, are on vacation for 1 week, and have a 5-week midwinter break. ~U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-11
One of the issues that repeatedly rears its ugly head in my research on why teachers leave the profession is stress due to work load. The description by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is accurate in a clinical sort of way.
The most resilient of us can work in the above-described scenario. What happens, though, when personal events happen? They do happen to all of us – we add people to our lives, marrying or having children; we lose people or our health; we move to new locations. Things happen. That’s an one thing you can count on in life.
Add that to an already stressful work environment, the kind so many teachers work in, and then maybe toss in additional stress at work – frequent changes in the way we teach, changes in our job description due to political change, maybe a difficult family or class of students comes through.
This is the proverbial “straw that breaks the camels back” for so many teachers.
If our society is serious about improving our schools, we all need to back up and look at the work environment. It’s not currently conducive to keeping people around for the long haul.