Teachers are feeling tired and unvalued. And they’re leaving.


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Now more than ever, many teachers are feeling burnt out and ready to leave their jobs due lack of appreciation along with a variety of other issues they face.

By Caroline Harless, Observations Editor

National Teacher Appreciation Week, celebrated in the first full week of May every year, is a week for students to thank teachers for all the hard work they do. Some students may give gifts, make cards or simply let their teachers know they are grateful for them. However, this year differed from past Teacher Appreciation Weeks in a key aspect: there were many less teachers to be celebrated. 

It is no secret that everyday more and more teachers are leaving the profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 600,000 teachers in public education quit between January 2020 and March 2022. In MCPS, 787 teachers have indicated they are resigning or retiring at the end of the school year, compared to 537 teachers at the same time last year as reported by Jennifer Martin, president of the Montgomery County Education Association. In order to combat this issue and prevent more teachers from quitting in the future, MCPS needs to ensure they do all they can so teachers know they are acknowledged and valued.    

One of the main reasons teachers quit is because they don’t feel valued. Teachers work so hard everyday, and most of the time get hardly any recognition for it. Many teachers across the country have reported feeling “low job satisfaction” according to EducationWeek.org, with over half of teachers saying they would not recommend their younger self to pursue a career in teaching. 

For change to be seen in teacher satisfaction rates, it is necessary that teachers are praised for their actions so they are aware that what they are doing is important. On a grand scale, MCPS can encourage teacher efforts and support them through hardships. By making it known that teacher efforts are appreciated, the resignation rates would significantly decrease.

Students can also play a role in helping to fix the problem of teachers feeling underappreciated by being engaged in class and showing teachers they care about what is being taught. Students can acknowledge the time and effort teachers take to create lessons everyday, which in turn lets teachers know their efforts are worth it. Just a simple “thank you” from a student as they leave class can leave a lasting impact on teachers.

Another reason teachers are resigning is because they do not feel heard in a lot of situations. Teacher voices are often overlooked and overshadowed, even when their opinions may be the most important. It is crucial that MCPS encourages teachers to express their ideas and ask questions. A lot of issues brought up by teachers such as their salary or student related problems are not listened to, which discourages them from speaking up again in the future. It is important that teachers have a voice listened to by MCPS about what teachers need and want from the school system. 

Isolation has also led many teachers to quit over the past two years. Through the pandemic and virtual learning, teachers have been disconnected from their students and colleagues, only being able to communicate through a screen. While this has had an adverse effect on everyone, many people only paid attention to the negative impact on students. Although MCPS is no longer in virtual learning, many teachers still feel that same isolation which was present during the height of the pandemic. 

MCPS can address this issue by fostering bonds with each other through team leadership programs and collaboration. One study in “Support, Collaborate, Retain” discovered that when teachers did not have access to collaborative relationships, 1 out of 5 left the profession. However, when collaborative techniques were introduced, many teachers were able to make connections and work with each other, which led to a significant decrease in teacher turnover rates. 

Although these efforts would improve teacher’s work lives and keep more from leaving, some may argue that these changes would have no impact and teachers will continue to quit either way. They think that despite the changes MCPS and its students could make, teachers would still leave in large numbers. 

However, while it is impossible to prevent every single teacher from quitting, the efforts to make sure teachers feel appreciated and valued would go a long way in reducing the overall number of teachers leaving the profession. If MCPS takes charge on these initiatives, change would definitely be noticeable in how teachers feel regarding their job and how schools function in general.

From feeling undervalued to isolated, teacher hardships have skyrocketed because of the pandemic over these past two years. And with hundreds of MCPS teachers quitting their jobs this year, it is necessary to take action in order to keep teachers in schools. And while some of these efforts may take longer to implement than others, students can start actively helping the situation by simply appreciating their teachers and making them aware of how much they are valued.