Why Are Teachers Quitting?

Written by Dan

Are you feeling discouraged and undervalued as a teacher? It’s no secret that teaching comes with many difficulties, from long hours to low pay. But why are increasing numbers of teachers choosing to quit this vital profession? In this blog post, we’ll examine why so many teachers feel forced to leave the classroom and explore how educators can find more joy in their careers. So if you’re ready for a fun yet thought-provoking read, grab your coffee (or tea) and join us as we dive into why more educators than ever are throwing in the towel!

Teachers quitting

Table of Contents

1. The Current Teacher Shortage and its Impact on Education 

The Reality of the Teacher Shortage

The teacher shortage is not a myth. It’s a real and significant issue that is growing larger each year. The problem is not just about the number of teachers. It’s also about the quality of teachers. A lack of sufficient, qualified teachers threatens students’ ability to learn. This isn’t an issue that only affects certain areas or subjects. It’s widespread and persistent across various schools and subjects.

Direct Impact on Students’ Educational Opportunities

These shortages in critical areas directly impact educational opportunities for students. Schools often have to cancel courses or staff classes with substitutes and underprepared teachers who are not certified to teach their subject matter when there aren’t enough teachers. This can significantly depress student achievement .

Larger Class Sizes and Teacher Burnout

One of the consequences of the teacher shortage is the growth of class sizes. Larger class sizes affect the quality of education students receive and contribute to educator burnout. Burnout leads to even more teachers quitting, perpetuating the cycle of shortages.

Reasons Behind the Shortage

There are several reasons behind the teacher shortage. Low compensation and high stress are two of the main factors. The combination of these factors has driven some teachers out of business and discouraged new teachers from entering the profession. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues, increasing teacher burnout.

The teacher shortage is a complex issue that requires urgent attention. It directly affects students’ education and contributes to larger class sizes and teacher burnout. To address this issue, it’s crucial to improve working conditions for teachers, including better pay and support, and to encourage more individuals to enter the teaching profession.

2. The Reasons Behind Low Pay and High Workloads For Teachers 

Low Pay: A Symptom of Underfunding and Budget Cuts

One of the main reasons teachers are underpaid is due to budget cuts in the education sector. When the funding for education is inadequate, it directly impacts teacher salaries, making it harder to attract new teachers and retain those already in the profession. When college graduates see their peers offered better salaries in other professions, they are less likely to choose to teach.

High Workloads: The Result of Increasing Expectations and Staffing Shortages

Teachers’ workloads have significantly increased over the years. This increase is partly due to rising expectations of what teachers should accomplish daily. However, the problem is compounded by staffing shortages. With fewer teachers in schools, those who remain often have to take on additional classes or duties, leading to an unsustainable workload.

The Impact of Standardized Testing

A focus on standardized testing has also contributed to teachers’ high workloads. Preparing students for these tests can be time-consuming and stressful, adding to teachers’ already heavy workload. Furthermore, teachers often feel pressured to ensure their students perform well on these tests, as the results can impact their evaluations and, in some cases, their pay.

Lack of Investment in Teacher Training and Development

Investment in teacher training and development is crucial for reducing workloads and improving pay. Well-trained teachers are more efficient, can manage their workloads better, and are likelier to stay in the profession. However, lacking investment in this area has overwhelmed many teachers.

The Consequences of Underpaying and Overworking Teachers

The consequences of underpaying and overworking teachers are severe. Lower teacher salaries often lead to lower-quality teaching, negatively impacting student achievement. Moreover, the high stress and burnout associated with heavy workloads cause many teachers to consider leaving the profession.

Teachers quit

3. Reasons for Teacher Burnout, Stress, and Unhappiness 

High Emotional Demands and Poor Funding

Teaching is a profession that requires a high level of emotional investment. Teachers are responsible for educating their students academically and playing a significant role in their social and emotional development. This can lead to high emotional demands, which can contribute to feelings of stress and burnout. Moreover, poor funding in the education sector often means limited resources, adding to teachers’ pressures.

Inadequate Preparation and Challenging Teaching Situations

Teachers often find themselves inadequately prepared for the challenges of the job. This could be due to insufficient training or professional development opportunities. Furthermore, they may have to deal with challenging teaching situations, such as large class sizes, student behavioural issues, or a lack of administrative support.

Lack of Autonomy

Lack of autonomy in curriculum decisions is another significant cause of teacher burnout. When teachers don’t have a say in what they teach and how they teach it, they may feel less invested in their work, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction.

Excessive Workload

Overwork is a major cause of burnout among teachers. They often have to juggle multiple responsibilities, including lesson planning, grading, communicating with parents, and participating in after-school activities. This excessive workload can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness.

High-Stakes Assessments

High-stakes assessments add to the stress levels of teachers. These tests require considerable preparation time and place pressure on teachers, as their performance is often evaluated based on their students’ test scores.

Addressing these issues is crucial for improving the well-being of teachers. This could include providing better funding for education, offering more professional development opportunities, giving teachers more autonomy in their work, and reducing their workload.

4. The Lack of Professional Support and Resources For Educators

Inadequate Professional Development Opportunities

Professional development is crucial for educators. It helps them stay updated on new teaching methods, learning theories, and subject matter content. However, many teachers lack access to meaningful professional development opportunities. This could be due to budget constraints, time limitations, or school administrations’ lack of attention to this area.

Limited Access to Teaching Resources

Teachers also often lack access to necessary teaching resources. This could include textbooks, technology, classroom supplies, and enrichment materials. The absence of these resources can make it difficult for teachers to provide quality education and engage students effectively.

Insufficient Administrative Support

Administrative support is critical to a teacher’s job satisfaction and effectiveness. However, many teachers feel they lack the support their school’s administration needs. This could involve a lack of communication, a lack of involvement in decision-making processes, or a lack of understanding and assistance with the challenges teachers face.

Poorly Designed Evaluation Systems

The way teachers are evaluated can also contribute to a lack of professional support. Many evaluation systems focus heavily on students’ standardized test scores, which may not accurately reflect a teacher’s skills or effectiveness. This can lead to feelings of stress and dissatisfaction among teachers.

The Consequences of Lack of Support and Resources

The lack of professional support and resources for educators can have serious consequences. It can lead to decreased job satisfaction, increased stress, and higher turnover rates. Moreover, it can negatively impact the quality of education students receive.

Addressing these issues is crucial for supporting our teachers and improving our education system. This could include providing more professional development opportunities, ensuring access to necessary teaching resources, improving administrative support, and designing fair and comprehensive teacher evaluation systems.

5. Working Conditions That Contribute to Poor Mental Health 

Excessive Workloads and Long Hours

Excessive workloads and long hours are typical in the teaching profession. Teachers often work beyond the school day, grading papers, planning lessons, and communicating with parents. This lack of work-life balance can lead to chronic stress, which is detrimental to mental health.

High-Stakes Testing Pressure

The emphasis on high-stakes testing can create a high-pressure environment for teachers. They often feel responsible for their student’s test scores, which can be a significant source of stress. This constant pressure can contribute to anxiety and other mental health issues.

Lack of Autonomy and Control

Teachers often have little autonomy over curriculum decisions and classroom policies, making them feel powerless and frustrated. A lack of control over one’s work environment is a known risk factor for poor mental health.

Inadequate Support and Resources

A lack of support from the administration and insufficient resources can also negatively impact teachers’ mental health. Teachers who feel unsupported and undervalued may experience burnout and job dissatisfaction, leading to depression and anxiety.

Challenging Student Behavior

Managing challenging student behaviour can be stressful and emotionally draining for teachers. Dealing with discipline issues, bullying, or students with special needs without adequate training or support can contribute to mental health problems.

Social Isolation

Despite being surrounded by students, teaching can be an isolating profession. Teachers spend most of their day in classrooms with little time for social interaction with colleagues. This lack of social support can lead to feelings of loneliness and increase the risk of mental health issues.

Addressing these working conditions is crucial for improving teachers’ mental health and well-being. Possible solutions could include reducing workloads, rethinking high-stakes testing, increasing teacher autonomy, providing adequate support and resources, offering training for managing student behaviour, and fostering a supportive and collaborative work environment.

6. Strategies To Reduce Job Stress and Retain Quality Teachers

Strategies To Reduce Job Stress and Retain Quality Teachers

Provide Adequate Resources and Support

Ensuring teachers have the necessary resources to perform their duties effectively can significantly reduce job stress. This includes access to teaching materials, technology, and support staff. Additionally, administrative support is crucial in understanding and addressing the challenges teachers face and in actively involving teachers in decision-making processes.

Offer Meaningful Professional Development Opportunities

Professional development helps teachers improve their skills, stay updated on educational trends, and feel more confident. Regular, meaningful professional development opportunities can enhance job satisfaction and help retain quality teachers.

Establish a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Long hours and excessive workloads can lead to burnout. Schools should encourage a healthy work-life balance by setting reasonable expectations for what teachers can accomplish within their working hours, providing time for planning and collaboration during the school day, and respecting teachers’ time off.

Create a Positive School Culture

A positive school culture where teachers feel valued, respected, and part of a team can greatly improve job satisfaction. This can be achieved through regular communication, recognition of teachers’ contributions, and fostering a collaborative environment.

Rethink Teacher Evaluation Systems

Teacher evaluations should be fair, comprehensive, and focused on supporting teacher growth rather than measuring student test scores. A well-designed evaluation system can provide constructive feedback, identify areas for improvement, and help teachers feel valued and supported in their professional growth.

Implement Wellness Programs

Wellness programs that address physical, emotional, and mental health can significantly reduce job stress. This could include access to counselling services, stress management workshops, fitness programs, or simple measures like ensuring teachers take breaks during the day.

By implementing these strategies, schools can create a supportive environment that reduces job stress, helps retain quality teachers, and ultimately improves the quality of education for students.


The challenges facing teachers today, including burnout, stress, and unhappiness, are multifaceted and deeply rooted in the system. Factors such as excessive workloads, high-stakes testing pressures, lack of autonomy, inadequate support, and resources, among others, contribute significantly to the poor mental health of educators.

However, with strategic efforts, these issues can be mitigated. Providing adequate resources and support, offering meaningful professional development opportunities, establishing a healthy work-life balance, creating a positive school culture, rethinking teacher evaluation systems, and implementing wellness programs are potent strategies that can alleviate job stress and retain quality teachers.

Education is a cornerstone of society, and teachers are at its helm. Ensuring their well-being is not just a matter of individual importance but a societal necessity. By prioritizing the well-being of our educators, we can foster a more sustainable, effective, and compassionate education system that benefits us all.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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