Teachers speak out on continuing their careers

The California Teacher Consultant Response Network was established by the Inverness Institute. The Inverness Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education. Its president, Mark St. John, is also the founder of Inverness Research, which has been studying teaching, teacher leadership and teacher networks for decades. Daniel Humphrey is Chairman of the Board, an independent consultant and former Director of the Center for Education Policy at SRI International, a research organization based in Menlo Park. EdSource is partnering with the Institute in presenting the findings. The Stuart Foundation is providing the seed-funding for the launch of this project.

For more spotlights, see the project overview page

At the end of January 2021, we surveyed our California Teacher Consultant Response Network members to ask them about their experiences as they adapt to serve their students during the pandemic. One hundred twenty-one teachers completed the initial survey of 25 questions, providing a rich data set of survey responses and thoughtful comments.

In this Spotlight we shine the light on how the teachers are feeling about continuing their teaching career in the current climate. We present the teachers’ ratings and representative comments so that they speak for themselves. We add our own reflections at the end of this Spotlight.

Illustrative comments about leading teachers’ plan to continuing teaching:
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Illustrative comments about colleagues’ thoughts:
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After reviewing these data and immersing ourselves in the thoughtful comments of these 121 teachers, we offer the following reflections.

The teachers who are members of this network are some of California’s most committed and expert teachers. Nonetheless, many find themselves in very difficult situations; for various reasons teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging for them. A sizable number of them (approximately 20%) are in doubt about their ability and willingness to continue teaching.

In some cases, teachers have been caught in the crossfire between health and safety concerns and parents’ wishes for a return to school. Many teachers also expressed doubt and sometimes anger over the district’s ability to support a safe return to school.

The teaching profession could be at risk of losing a number of teachers. While many teachers will continue to teach, some would like to change schools or districts. Others want to leave the classroom or move away from education completely. More will consider changing careers or retiring early if conditions don’t improve.

It is clear to us that teachers are working harder than ever; they are committed to meeting the challenges they face both for themselves and their students. But it is also clear that they feel little appreciation or understanding coming from the public and decision makers.

For the long-term health of the educational enterprise we think it is important that the demands on teachers and their concerns receive as much attention as the needs of students and their families.

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