EducationOpinion

Why Do Teachers Quit? Why Do Many Teachers Get Burned Out Quickly?

Laayoune, Morocco
As stated by the fabulous French poet and novelist Victor Hugo: “He who opens a school door closes a prison”, it is self-evident to everyone the vital role education plays. It is the bona fide vehicle of the development and actual progress of any human community. This is genuinely the ever-acknowledged reality. Further elaboration of the quote evidently yields teachers largely take part in this honorable mission and are, therefore, in many respects, considered the nucleus of any positive change.  HOWEVER, the very recent events that are displayed in the social media and elsewhere reflect the brittle situation the teachers of today endure.  Immorality, at its clearest pictures, destroys their dignity and self-assurance. Overmore, no single decision is made to rectify the situation; which leaves no choice to predict the worst-case scenarios in the forthcoming days.
Hence, the two questions above used to entitle this article remain pivotal and deserve a considerable amount of attention which need to be discussed. Recently, I have been surprised by the number of teachers worldwide who quit. This is increasing every day.  In Morocco, however, teachers don’t quit in the actual sense, but a noticeable burnout is looming around, which in turn raises a plethora of questions. It is an issue that has been the core topic of several discussions.
I, in fact, have heard even the most highly qualified teachers fond of teaching eventually become emotionally and physically drained and, ergo, think about quitting. It is my belief this is something that must be voiced on a large scale.  In this respect, the current article brings in the sine qua non factors that ostensibly contribute to this rapid unprecedented teacher’s burnout. All the ideas and examples that will be mentioned here are the result of actual discussions undertaken previously with many colleagues, and some of them, in fact, reflect my personal experience in the workplace. For that matter, they are context-based and SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED AT ALL.
One of the foremost factors I’m sure leads to teachers’ burnout is the school culture. It is a well-documented fact where individuals reside or work will exert a huge influence on them in a number of ways. It has been continuously disclosed the school culture is indispensible to the success of what takes place inside the classroom (Black & Wiliam, 2005). By the school culture, I refer to the quality of teachers, staffs, learners, and the kind and nature of interactions that prevail within the school setting. The result is surely determined when a teacher works in a school where conflicts and personal considerations are prioritized. Disrespect, contempt and hatred are the values that dominate this community. No dialogue among the staffs at all due to trivialities minimizes cooperative responsibility and promotes chaos and disorder.
The second factor pertains to learners. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception the grade matters more than the learning itself. The latter becomes “measurement-driven and highly superficial” which de-energizes many teachers.  They spend massive time searching, planning, designing, organizing and teaching but in vain. All this is lost in the ocean of ignorance.
Along the way, a number of teachers feel bored and gradually get burned out due to the regular routines. The lack of initiatives that target teacher professional development worsens the situation. In many cases, teachers are inactive because of the lack of platforms that allow them to discuss, exchange knowledge, share classroom practices, inspire and get inspired, reflect and learn more.  
The fact that the teaching profession is very tiring and energy consuming remains unarguable and generally assumed to be true. No one would deny that for any consideration. The case becomes hard when teaching over-crowded classes. Teaching 47 students per a class is apparently not an easy task. Why does it have to be like this? I don’t know, but if this reflects anything, it, at least, reflects, inter alia, the conspicuous and deliberate denigration of public education, marginalization, reform deficit, and criss-cross. There is a radical mismatch between the theoretical perspective from which Moroccan policy makers look at things and the daunting reality, namely: the classroom. This doesn’t have to be generalized, but I believe there are many teachers who would share the same stance. Taking the general guidelines introduced by the national chart and the recent strategic vision into full account and under the given inhibiting circumstances, teachers can barely draw on a lockstep approach to teaching, let alone, try other innovative approaches and techniques, which brings the issue of quality into question.
Another factor which reflects the daunting reality of reliable teachers is the overwhelming paperwork they have to deal with on a daily basis under the aforementioned circumstances. Taking into consideration what classroom research recommends, it seems teachers’ days are filled with assessing stacks of paragraphs and essays that never seem to shrink – but the problem is not just grading. It is, just as educational practitioners and researchers inform, the detailed descriptive feedback given on every single student’s work, which shows them their weaknesses and suggest ways to make further progress.  
Finally, teaching remains one the most difficult professions. It requires flexibility, self-regulated and lifelong learning, creativity, diligence, developing new practices, ongoing reflection and professional development from the part of teachers.  Given the above long list of requirements, I do believe that the policies, if any, the Moroccan government has developed to address the problems that invade the educational system are misguided. Governments all over the world consider experienced teachers the key element to the implementation of new educational policies and reforms. In Morocco, the future of education is as dark as night, and teaching is perceived to be a part-time job. The lack of incentives for improvement is fairly discouraging. The worst case is that most teachers don’t CONTINUOUSLY undergo a systematic appraisal or receive any acknowledgment on their work which disheartens them.
In any event, it is obvious there are sundry factors that lead to teachers’ burnout. But, from a personal standpoint, I do believe no matter what the circumstances are, all teachers are considered the protagonists of a story that its end is inevitably determined by the quality of thoughts and decisions made along the run. Therefore, burnout remains a personal choice and teachers are required to strive till they thrive.
References:
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2005). Changing teaching through formative assessment: Research and practice. The King’s-Medway-Oxfordshire Formative Assessment Project. English Literature Review, 223-240.

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