Friday, April 4, 2008

Career switching will get worse

When people try to claim that the teacher shortage we face is a retention problem, I laugh. Don’t get me wrong – I would love to see better working conditions and even higher salaries for teachers. But that will not come close to fixing the problem.

We no longer live in a society where someone works in one job, let alone one career, for life. Based on my daughter’s college friends, it is not going to get any better.

We took some of her college friends to dinner a few weeks back and half were planning on transferring from Radford University to other schools. They talk about this as if it was as easy as upgrading to a new text messaging plan for their cell phones. Back in “the day”, the only people transferring to a different college were usually doing so for nefarious reasons.

My daughter has now been accepted to James Madison University and will transfer there next semester. All of her friends at the dinner who applied will also be transferring. If they switch colleges this easy, I can guarantee that attitude will carry over into jobs and careers. Thirty year teaching careers will be a thing of the past.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher who is planning a career change. The reason for this is partly that I don't get paid enough (I teach private school), but mainly because in teaching, your not really rewarded for being talented or creative in the same way that you are in other professional endeavors. I'm planning on opening a small business, which unlike teaching, will grow and succeed in direct correlation with my own efforts and abilities. But here is a word of comfort. Good teaching doesn't rely on 30 years of experience. Some people can teach, and some people just can't. Experience does help, but a person can pretty much learn most of what they need to know in 3 or so years. Also, teachers who once worked in other professions frequently bring those experiences to the table, which only enriches their pedagogy. So the real issue isn't so much that teaching doesn't pay enough, it's more that talented people who want new challenges and opportunities to grow aren't given them. And in my case, it isn't the kids; they're great. It's colleagues and administration that frequently drive the brightest and best teachers into other professions. I don't know how to solve this problem, or else I wouldn't be planning my own career transition.