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Caution to Aspiring Elementary School Teachers: Why Do They Leave The Profession-Part 1

Updated on May 13, 2012

So you have decided to enter the teaching profession, particularly in the elementary level. Some of you may be fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a teacher. You have that burning desire to impart knowledge to young kids who will be hanging on to every word you say before they leave the classroom. Aspiring teachers, I would like to caution you before you take the plunge. Examine yourself if you are really apt to be an elementary teacher.

Compared with other educated professions, elementary teachers have of one the highest numbers of leavers. Despite the security of tenure provided, particularly by the public elementary school system, many teachers still leave the profession.That is why aspiring teachers need to take caution when deciding if they really would like to be in this profession to avoid the frustration suffered by some teachers. It is quite ironic because there are more aspiring teachers who fail in the licensure examination for teachers than those who pass. Proof? When I took the licensure exams for teachers in 2003, only 37,880 or 26.24% of 144,880 examinees hurdled the exams successfully. And yet, when they are already teaching, they have no second thoughts of leaving the profession.

Breaking down further, there are more elementary school teachers who leave than high school and college teachers. It may be attributed to the fact that there are more elementary teachers compared to high school and college professors. Being in the public elementary school system myself, I have seen some of my co-teachers change profession. Here are the top 5 reasons why public elementary school teachers quit:

> Low Salary

Consider an elementary teacher with 3 children, paying her mortgage, children's education, loans, electricity bills, telephone bills, and other utility bills, transportation or fuel expenses, clothing, food, allowances of her kids, amortization, and other miscellaneous expenses, do you think she can live with her salary alone? She’s lucky if her partner can contribute to the family coffers. But given the opportunity to a job of higher pay, many do not hesitate to leave the teaching profession. I mean, readily! Among the professionals, teachers have the lowest compensation. That is why it is often said that teaching is not really a profession but a vocation.

> Heavy work load

Imagine yourself in the middle of a noisy place, talking with someone and everyone around you seems to be hustling and bustling. Couple that with shrieks and cries. Will you not be rattled? It’s the everyday life of public elementary school teachers. This is their background music, as they make lesson plans, not just one, not 2, not 3, but in some small schools, all the subjects should have lesson plans. Imagine if you have more than 5 subjects to be taught!? Well, you have the choice of doing these while the students are busy some classroom activities or after class hours, of which by now, you are very tired. You may also prepare them in your home before going to sleep, or while your children are doing their own homework. The thing is, your work isn’t done yet even if you are already in your house. What if you still have to do the household chores?

Suppose you do it in school, now here comes your head teacher or principal rushing you for a specific school report. You still have to make the teaching materials for each lesson plan that you prepared. A student suddenly calls out telling you that 2 of your students are having a fight. A co-teacher comes in telling you that the teacher you’re been at odds with is acting up again. Wait, you still have to check on the student whom you’ve been training for tomorrow’s academic contest. What about the test papers you have to check and record. There are 50 students in your class so you have to fill in 50 individual score entry in your record book. It so happened that you gave test in 2 subjects, that will be 100 papers to check and 100 entries in the record book. The list of thing you have to do in school goes on and on. Aspiring teachers, I am not exaggerating!! This is a typical day for most public elementary teachers. When you get home, you have to attend to the needs of your family and the household chores. After everything has been done, you still have to go back for some unchecked and unrecorded test papers you brought home or the never-ending lesson plans. But you need to sleep now or else, you’ll have no energy for another day of duty. Whew! And these students think that it is better to be the teacher than to be the student?

Teaching is truly one of the most tiring professions; that is why teachers leave if given an opportunity to change profession. So you see why I am not that prolific in writing /adding my hubs. Just don’t ask me if I’m thinking of leaving my profession.

Kindly leave your comments here

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  • profile image


    4 months ago

    Please allow me to use your article, as reference/basis for my Action research.. 2018-2019. As of now 6of my co-teachers resigned from teaching service, this article will be much to me.

  • prairieprincess profile image

    Sharilee Swaity 

    5 years ago from Canada

    Loren, I can relate to this so much. For me, it's number two that gets to me. The endless, endless work that you will never finish. I find it so stressful, that there is always something to do, at home, and at school, and you are NEVER done. I went back to teaching after a break, and I think this might be it for me, because the workload is unbelievable, and I always feel stressed. It's hard to leave the kids, though. I love working with children but the workload is relentless. Thanks for an awesome article!

  • diamond1mo profile image

    KE Morgan 

    6 years ago from Arizona

    After retiring and announcing my intention to teach, my elementary school teaching wife told me I was crazy. I did it, but the administration quickly burned me out. Where is the honest adminstrator that is really interested in the kids and the education?

  • nightcrawler123 profile image


    6 years ago

    It is a lot of work. The annual salary isn't high. You have to do it out of love for the students! - FREE Videos and Ebooks For Classroom Teachers.

  • KrystalD profile image


    6 years ago from Los Angeles

    Hi World-Traveler,

    Thanks for a wonderful article! As an elementary teacher I totally identified with several points you made. My experiences started in public, when international and currently have landed me in a WONDERFUL small, private progressive school. I feel so blessed to teach in a way that truly meets the needs of my students without all the pressure I felt in many of the other environments. My co-workers and I stay passionate and involved in what's going on public education because we all feel a social responsibility towards public education.

    I believe that in terms of "making it" in the field of education, it is all about finding that place where you can best connect with students, teachers, and parents in the way fits you best. This is a HARD thing to find and involves compromise and flexibility but I do encourage new teachers to open their minds to ALL possibilities in teaching. We are not required to do one thing forever or be in any place that does not feed our passion. Thanks again!

  • lorenmurcia profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago

    Hi, World-Traveler,

    I have also experienced teaching in a big private school. And it was way too stressful because of too much expectations from the parents, students and school administrators. Aside from the workload, workload, workload and more workload.

    Now that I am in a public school, nothing's changed in terms of what else, workload... :)

  • World-Traveler profile image


    6 years ago from USA

    I taught English at two universities in Thailand. Administration in the second U. just burned out its teachers. Especially the English teachers. Teachers came down with all sorts of illnesses. Eventually they closed down the English language department.

    I completed my two one year contracts and left as well. Way too much unnecessary stress, heavy, heavy class loads, back-stabbing from the Thai English teachers because we native speakers made more money, and on and on and on. All of this is just sad and really breaks your heart, that is, if you are a teacher.

    Voted UP and useful. Thanks.

  • lorenmurcia profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago


    Thanks for the comment. Hope this does not discourage you from being a teacher. Fact is, it is fulfilling to be a teacher.

  • samanthamayer profile image


    6 years ago from New Zealand

    Interesting. As much as I love kids, if I ever become a teacher one day, it would have to be for high school students.


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