Confronting the decline in teacher morale

Confronting the decline in teacher morale

In the U.S, the various policies and technologies that were meant to improve teaching and learning have led to a decline in teacher morale, with large numbers leaving the profession altogether.

A report out of the U.S by the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) in December found that 50% of new teachers leave the job before their fifth year.

According to Dr Philip Riley of Monash University’s faculty of education, early career exit from teaching in Australia has reached “epidemic proportions”.

Their reason for Australian teachers leaving the profession early is much the same as their U.S counterparts - unmanageable workloads and unsupportive staffrooms.

However, the trend isn’t just isolated to teachers. Principals have also been experiencing significant pressure as a result of these issues.

The Principal Health and Well-being Survey released last year showed that growing job complexity and lack of support means that the sheer quantity of work is the greatest source of stress facing Australian principals.

“The participants in the survey have very demanding jobs. They spend very long hours at work, both during term time and during holiday periods,” the report stated.

“In the 21st Century, no principals and deputy/assistant principals should feel unsupported in the face of growing job complexity.”

In August last year, it was revealed that within the next 10 years, up to 125,000 teaching positions will need to be filled by staff who are at the beginning of their careers - due to half of Australia’s teachers reaching retirement age.

Carol Reid, associate professor at University of Western Sydney (UWS), agreed there is a teacher shortage in Australia, but the problem is not as widespread as we are led to believe.

Reid said the shortages are mainly confined to the disciplines of science, technology, mathematics and some languages.

‘Many overseas-trained teachers are encouraged to move to Australia, and do so in the belief that our country is in desperate need of teachers and that their skills will be in high demand,’ Reid wrote in an article on ACER’s website.

However, Reid said the answer to Australia’s teacher shortage doesn’t just rest with migrant teachers but also with teachers trained on home soil.

“The Globalisation and Teacher Movements research project aimed to identify the key factors that explain how and why overseas teachers come to Australia – but it also explored the reasons why Australian teachers leave to teach overseas,” Reid said.