Teacher turnover a national problem – but not at SBHS

Educators refer to it as

pouring teachers into a bucket with a hole in it.

It’s the recent trend of new teachers lasting less than five
years in the profession.
Educators refer to it as “pouring teachers into a bucket with a hole in it.” It’s the recent trend of new teachers lasting less than five years in the profession.

A recently released report states that nationwide, about one-third of teachers quit during their first three years and almost half leave within five years.

“Sometimes it’s not what they expected,” said Evelyn Muro, director of personnel with the San Benito High School District. “The demands are high and some teachers don’t like having to handle discipline – they don’t really enjoy that.”

Despite this, Muro said turnover of new teachers isn’t a problem at San Benito High School. Currently, 32.8 percent of certificated staff, which includes teachers and counselors, has been in education for less than five years.

SBHS science teacher Amy Brown has been teaching for four years.

“The first couple of years are tough. You’re creating new lesson plans from scratch,” she said. “Management and organization are the most important.”

Brown said she knows new teachers who have left the profession because of such factors as burnout, feeling overwhelmed and not liking teenagers.

“Some teachers realize that they don’t even like high-school kids,” Brown said. “If you don’t like high-school kids, you shouldn’t teach high school.”

Some new teachers also don’t anticipate the amount of time involved in teaching – school days, after school and weekends, Brown said. During her first year of teaching, Brown said she thought she’d never survive, but things got easier.

While some SBHSD new teachers face these challenges, the Hollister School District doesn’t have a problem with new teachers quitting.

“(We don’t have that problem) because we have a lot of teachers that are Hollister natives,” said Bill Jordan, director of human resources for the HSD. “We’re very fortunate. People grow up in the area and want to raise their family here.”

Jordan did say there is a difference in mentality between elementary and high schools. Elementary and middle schools are more child-centered while high schools are more subject-centered, he said.

The report was prepared by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, a non-partisan group dedicated to improving the quality of teaching in America, according to its Web site. The group said there is a shortage of bodies nationally because not enough teachers stick with it.

In total, more than 250,000 people leave teaching every year, and retirees account for less than a third of those, according to the report.

Dennis DeWall, chairman of the mathematics department at SBHS, said that two to five math teachers leave every year. Although he doesn’t know how many are in their first five years of teaching, he said there are various factors that add to teachers leaving so early. These include frustration, lack of respect and feeling overwhelmed.

“Some days, teachers feel like they’re not progressing with their class. … Things can be overwhelming because it seems like every year more responsibilities are put on teachers. We have to be counselors, policemen, moms, dads, disciplinarians,” said DeWall, who’s been in education for 28 years – 16 with the SBHSD.

The bottom line is that there are many opportunities and many young people are moving around while they still can, before they start a family.

“It’s pretty common to change jobs today,” Brown said. “My husband’s been with the same company for 11 years. He’s afraid of how that will look on his resume.”

On the Net: National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future: www.nctaf.org/

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