Key Takeaways
  • There are many reasons teachers want to stay at their job despite lower wages.
  • The reasons to change jobs, however, are increasing dramatically.
  • The effects of the Great Resignation on teachers will be apparent in Spring 2022.
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The Great Resignation has been rolling across America. The year 2021 holds the record for the highest monthly average resignations in recent history, beating out prior years by millions per month. 

 

The number of resignations started creeping up at the beginning of 2021, then slumped mid-year before skyrocketing towards the end of the year. Looking at the data, it's has been like a wave rising above the ocean. 

 

There are a lot of factors contributing to this wave, but teachers haven't yet been one of the top groups leaving their position. However, that doesn't mean that teachers won't also start to leave their job in large numbers soon.

 

Why the Great Resignation Hasn't Hit School Teachers Yet 

 

Schools operate in a different world than many other workforces. Most employers that aren't in education work from January to December as their calendar year. Generally, there is no "on season" or "off-season" for full-time work. Also, hiring and firing can happen at-will depending on performance, desire to change positions, and other factors. 

 

On the other hand, the majority of schools operate on a September to May calendar. That means the vast majority of hiring and firing happens between April and August. Therefore, to be fired or hired outside of that window requires extreme circumstances. 




The great resignation was barely ticking up during the hiring season of 2021 for teachers. So that leads to the question, if or will we see the great resignation affect teachers now that this school year is getting close to its hiring and firing season?

 

Reasons Teachers Stay 


You may be wondering why teachers haven't left in droves before the Great Resignation. Here are some of the top reasons teachers stay. 


Rewarding Profession


Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession for those that love it, and that alone means many teachers will hold on to their job because of their passion. 

 

Benefits


Teachers also stay because of the benefits that come with their profession. For example, many teachers receive several benefits, including a retirement package, healthcare package, paid summers, and paid holidays off work.

 

Sense of Duty


For many, teachers stay due to a sense of duty. There is intense camaraderie amongst teachers, and leaving mid-year is viewed as placing a bigger burden on your fellow teachers. 


Job Stability


As a teacher, unless you severely underperform or break the law, you're not likely to be fired. Instead, teachers can depend on being in their position from year-to-year and getting a pension at the end of their teaching stint. 

 

Also, since teaching is classified as a government job, it is a more recession-resistant job than most. As a result, coming out of recession, teachers' salaries didn't drop as much as other professions. 




Although each of these reasons is a sense of the purpose and passion for teachers staying to teach the next generations, the reality is that burnout exists. Duty only takes you to the end of each school year. In addition, teachers have noticed the recession in the rearview mirror and other professional salaries rebounding at an accelerated rate. 


So while there are numerous reasons that teachers stay, there are also reasons that could lead to teachers joining in on the great resignation. 


Why the Great Resignation Might Still Hit Teachers 

 

Teachers are becoming more acutely aware that they aren't compensated at a rate equal to others of their professional level. The Great Resignation comes down to one thing, with employment shortages, the power is in the hands of the employee. That means that teachers no longer have to put up with subpar salaries.

 

With inflation at a decades-long high and teachers' salaries unresponsive to pressures like evident labor shortages, teachers are ready to respond with their feet by walking out. Of course, teachers don't solely teach because of the pay, but teachers also need a decent salary to live comfortably. 


In the words of an Oregonian teacher, "Getting paid $50K a year is not worth this much abuse." And this is not an isolated feeling amongst educators. 

 

Lastly, teachers are being burnt out faster than ever before. Increased responsibilities due to the pandemic, such as in-person and virtual learning, handling students' physical and emotional needs, and increasing pressure to perform well on standardized tests, are becoming too challenging.

 

When Will the Great Recession Hit Teachers? 

 

If any of these factors will indeed lead to a massive drop in teacher retention, we will see it happen soon. March and April are standard months for teachers to submit a formal notice that they will not be returning for the next school year.

 

The data on teachers who submit their resignations in the coming months will largely determine how bad the Great Resignation will be in public education.


Image Credit: DGLimages / Shutterstock.com


On the hand, it could be that teachers are not resigning from actually teaching but instead changing locations. Meaning, the number of teachers resigning from their job could be offset by teachers moving to school districts with better pay and benefits. Sadly, that will leave small school districts or those with underserved students struggling to move forward. 

 

It is unclear whether higher teacher salaries will solve this problem, but that may be the best place to start.


 

How has the Great Resignation impacted your life overall since COVID-19 started? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.


Main Image Credit: Tijana Simic / Shutterstock.com

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