Why Does Education Run Off the Best?

ResignLast week we lost a talented member of our faculty.  Not to the oil field (I teach in Midland, Texas and the oil field is taking lots of teachers due to the ability to make a lot of money), not to retirement, but to a place where they will feel, appreciated.  They decided to leave a place they have been for a long time, and based on prior conversations, I don’t think they EVER planned on leaving.  What happened?  I think I have some insight as to the why.

I recently had a discussion with some other educators and we were discussing how to get teachers to come to work everyday.  We had lots of teachers who used all of their off days and then some (10 days a year are granted and accrue from year-to-year). Why?  The reasons are as varied as the people who took those days off, but we did have many who just plain didn’t want to go to work.  Why?  I submit to you it is because they did not feel appreciated and respected.  Check out this article if you don’t believe me. 

I have read quite a few studies that claim people will work for less money if they feel appreciated, respected and valued.  I agree.  I would love more money, but all the money in the world will not make someone spend a lifetime in a career if they don’t feel valued. We can give luncheons, prizes and extra money if you come to work everyday, but in the end it won’t matter if you create an environment where you feel disrespected, undervalued and as if your opinions are not welcomed or needed.

Sadly, as I talk with other teachers across the district, many feel this way.  Not all, but too many ignore it.  Why? As real estate boils down to three things: location, location, location.  So too do our schools: leadership, leadership, leadership.  The tone of the school is set by those who run it, who may or may not be the appointed leaders.

Respect is multi-faceted and can be defined in many ways, but perhaps the simplest way to define it is as follows: treating others the way you want to be treated.  When you feel disrespected on a regular basis it takes its toll.  And when you are working in an area that is way outside of your gifting, it creates a recipe for dissatisfaction and becoming disgruntled.

School leaders, listen to your campus leaders and give them a voice.  If you don’t, you will have those leaders leaving you because someone will see their value and gladly take them off of your hands.  Sadly, this is sometimes the case at my school.  It is great for my friend, but bad for my school and me personally.  We need to value and respect all of our colleagues, but especially the best and the brightest.  If not, they will find other places to share their expertise.

Can our public schools afford a talent drain?  Not in my district and I suspect not in yours as well.  What do you think?  Until next time, peace.

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