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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Out the classroom door, but still teaching

While there’s little evidence of a “Big Quit” in education there may be a Significant Shift in how teachers see their options, writes Linda Jacobson on The 74.

Prenda microschools are expanding .

Those who leave traditional schools can find flexible jobs in new school models, such as online and microschools, she writes.

As a counselor in a Vermont school district, Heather Long felt she couldn’t meet the explosion in “mental health needs” caused by pandemic restrictions.

She now runs a microschool out of her home as part of Prenda, a network of tuition-free, small-group programs, writes Jacobson. She plans to partner with a former middle-school teacher to expand to 15 students next fall.

“For the first time in their lives, they have options,” said Jennifer Carolan, a former teacher in the Chicago area and now a partner with Reach Capital. The investment firm supports online programs and ed tech ventures, such as Outschool, with thousands of online classes, and Paper, a tutoring platform that states and districts have adopted using federal relief funds. Traditional schools, Carolan said, haven’t kept pace with what teachers want in the workplace, particularly flexible schedules.

Sora Schools, a private, online program, gets “a few hundred applications” for each open teaching jobs, Jacobson writes. Sora educators “either focus full time on curriculum design or work directly with students.”

Before the pandemic, about 16 percent of teachers left their jobs each year, writes Jacobson, citing federal data. Two-thirds moved into other K-12 jobs.

In California, more teachers quit in the middle of the school year, reports Diana Lambert in EdSource. Teachers complain of Covid challenges and students’ behavior.

Lynda White, 58, taught English and social studies at a middle school in the Central Valley for 21 years. This year, she started having panic attacks.

White was exhausted and disillusioned from dealing with bad student behavior, which had escalated since schools reopened after the pandemic closures. Students regularly arrived late to classes, fought with one another, interrupted lessons and ignored her direction. White said she sent disciplinary referrals to the principal’s office, but no action was taken.

She quit her job in December.

Kurtis Obispo was a school psychologist in rural California until he also quit midyear.

There were more fights on campuses and more students being designated as a threat to themselves or others, said Obispo . . .  Students had a hard time communicating with one another and were more anxious than before the pandemic, he said. “It was an extremely difficult time,” Obispo said. “I was breaking up fights. I was put on TikTok recently because I broke up a fight.”

He is now the director of special education at Team Charter Schools in Stockton, where he also serves as the school psychologist.

It was the most “grueling” year ever, writes Jeremy Adams, a veteran civics teacher in Bakersfield, California.

. . .  there are more fights on campus. Student behavior is out of control—vulgarity without end coupled with mind-numbing disrespect towards teachers; TikTok challenges encouraging students to steal from “or slap” a teacher; students standing up and arbitrarily leaving the classroom. Students who freely admit they only wear masks in the classes where they want to hide and be left alone by the teacher. Sometimes the changes are more subtle yet equally stultifying. Students who don’t think they should have to turn in homework. Students who expect extensions without end. Students who think every test should always be an open-book testRising rates of illiteracy. And worst of all, a mental health crisis that is finally—finally!—getting the attention of everyone on both sides of the political spectrum.

Teachers are asked to “soften expectations,” Adams writes. It doesn’t help. “Students have forgotten how to learn. And adults, instead of reminding them through traditional pedagogy, timeless learning principles, and nourishing expectations, have decided it is too much to ask.”

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