Here’s What Keeps Teachers on the Job

Here’s What Keeps Teachers on the Job

In the past few years, there have been countless reports of teachers considering leaving the profession, fed up with the stress, pay, and other challenges. But what keeps them in it?

Education Week asked teachers from across the country what keeps them in the classroom, and what has improved in the profession since they began teaching.

What keeps you in the profession?

“It’s the creative freedom that my principal allows us to have. Every year I will try to challenge myself with something different and something new.

“My principal, she trusts me. And it allows me to play around with what I feel like will be best for the group of kids that I have in front of me. Without that, it’s very routines-based, almost too strict. When my principal gives us her expectations, it’s kind of like, ‘OK, now you tell me what you need. How can I support you to get you there?’”

Helen Chan, 4th grade math teacher at South Loop Elementary School in Chicago

“Today, there was a kiddo that started off the school year having a pretty rough time. These past couple weeks, he has been phenomenal. Today in class, I saw a moment where he was by himself, and I told him, ‘I want you to know how much all your teachers are so stinking proud of you, and we see how hard you’re working.’ Just his little, ‘yeah,’ made my day, because I know that’s going to help him keep doing what he’s doing.

“My driving force is to help marginalized communities. Anytime I get to translate or teach science class in English and Spanish, I feel like I’m getting to use my superpowers to help kiddos who otherwise wouldn’t be getting that help. That’s definitely what keeps me going.”

—Sofia Alvarez-Briglie, a 7th grade science teacher at Alcott Middle School in Norman, Okla.

“I know it’s a cliché, but it’s for the kids. When I work with kids every day, I know that what I’m doing is important, is useful, is necessary.

“Every freshman class, every senior class, is similar in that there are some differences, and there are some likenesses. It’s enjoying what is new while also trying to keep a level of, hopefully, quality and structure. You still feel comfortable knowing what you’re going to be doing on any given day so that you [don’t] feel like you’re having to reinvent the wheel constantly.”

—Frank Rivera, a middle and high school English/language arts teacher at Chaparral Star Academy in Austin, Texas

”I love working with kids. I always wanted to be a teacher. I believe in education. I think that education is the key for our students and for our society. It empowers people. And our society becomes better.

“As an [English-for-speakers-of-other-languages] teacher, [I have] the opportunity to become that bridge and close gaps with families who do not speak English and [be] able to provide that example for them [and] resources—whether it’s to translate for a conference, whether it’s to share their concerns.

“When they have someone that has lived part of what they are going through, they have that connection, and it becomes more real. That’s what keeps me going.”

—Griselle Rivera-Martinez, ESOL teacher at Enterprise Elementary School in Enterprise, Fla.


Education Week

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