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Why Spanish Teachers are Leaving (and Staying)

It’s no secret that teachers are leaving the profession in droves. There are so many job postings at my kids’ school for the district that they are doubled up and hanging off all sides of the bulletin board. It’s a hot mess. Not unlike teaching right now. 😬

I recently asked my email subscribers to share their plans for next year. (sign up for my email list here) I asked them to choose from the following and tell me why if they felt comfortable sharing:

A. Leaving your current position for one in the same district

B. Leaving your current position for one in a different district

C. Leaving the classroom for a different role in a school

D. Leaving the classroom and profession altogether

E. Retiring

F. Staying in the same position

Boy, did teachers deliver! Over 400 teachers responded to my email with their plans for next year and many of them shared with me the reasoning behind their decision.

Grab a beverage, find somewhere cozy to curl up, and read on for the results and some of the reasons why Spanish teachers are staying or going. ❤️ 

A. Leaving your current position for one in the same district: 2%

“I am transferring from a K-8 school to a High School in my district. I currently teach 7 classes per day: 1 5th grade, 2 6th, 2 7th, 1 8th, and 1 Spanish 1. (This is an A/B schedule. I am responsible for 17 classes all year, 330 students.) This leaves me with 45 minutes per day to plan and have lunch! Next year I’ll teach 1 Spanish 1 class and 2 Spanish 2 classes per semester, with 30 minutes for lunch and 90 minutes to plan! I am sad about leaving my middle schoolers, although my 8th graders are excited to see me next year. I am looking forward to the less stressful schedule next year!”

“Moving schools in the same district because of drop in enrollment in my current site.”

B. Leaving your current position for one in a different district: 6%

“I’m leaving my position for a new district. I am returning to high school after 2 years of teaching middle school.” 

“I am leaving the school district to a district that is 3 hours away from here. In my case I decided to move and relocate.”

“I am moving to a new school with the same role (due to low enrollment in my current school and district).”

“B – I love my current job.  We’re moving 10 hours away to be near our granddaughter who is coming any day now!  I’m currently the only Spanish teacher in a high school with 250 students. I’ll be teaching in a school with 3,000 students. It will definitely be different!  Just finished my 37th year – it’s a little scary to make such a switch, but it’s worth it to be near grandkids!”

“Leaving for a multitude of reasons… 1. In a ~long-distance relationship and I’m not wanting to get married and live 2 hours apart (1st jobs out of college for two years for both of us to gain experience), 2. moving in with my boyfriend 3. workload vs adequate prep hours for 8 different grade levels is taking its toll on me – even if I only see each class twice a week I still have 14 different groups of students to see each week.  4. a high school position close to where I was planning to move opened up and it is a perfect fit. The previous teacher is retiring after being there for 20 years – big shoes to fill, but also, a program that is already established.”

“I have had an hour drive (55 miles) each way to school for the past 4 years. I’m moving to a district that’s only 25 minutes away. The gas prices keep going up so that it’s not feasible to continue with the long drive.” 

“I am still not entirely sure but I’ve mostly made up my mind to stay in the profession but move districts. The one I’m in is not making me happy (and my phenomenal boss is moving districts), so I am hoping I can find a job at a new school that will be better suited for me.”

“I loved my school and even during the pandemic I did not think about quitting. Then, we got a new principal and assistant principal. They lack organizational skills, soft skills ( ability to connect with staff or parents), disrespectful of teachers, defensive, not proactive, and singled out teachers and pushed them until they quit. So, basically I’m leaving due to administration incompetence and lack of respect for teachers.” 

C. Leaving the classroom for a different role in a school: 3%

“I’ve been teaching Spanish for 17 years and I am leaving the classroom to work in a more administrative position. Students disrespect teachers more than ever and have little interest in learning.”

“C – I am going to teach two sections of Spanish and also be an instructional coach for writing in a private school next year. I graduated with my masters in instructional coaching this year, so that is one reason. Another is that I have been at my public school for three years and while I have loved some things about it, it is not always a positive environment for me to be in. Students frequently cuss, there is a lot of disrespect, and we have had many fights this year as well. Some changes to our discipline system this year, which took some power from teachers, made me begin my consideration of leaving.”

“C! I’ll be a Learning Coach helping to support and advocate for new teachers in the district! I am SO FLIPPING EXCITED.”

“I am leaving the classroom after 20 years to become the instructional technologist for my district.  It was a really good opportunity to help teachers learn technology (and I get to work in the same office as my husband!)”

“Leaving the classroom for a different role (Librarian)I will miss the kids and the relationships I am able to build by seeing them every day, but I won’t miss grading, fielding parent emails and lesson planning.”

“I’m very likely leaving the district where I teach to move to a different district. Due to my husband’s job, we will have to move out of state.”

“I am a C.  I have been teaching for 32 years  19 as a Spanish teacher and 13 as a School Librarian.  I am returning to the library next year.  It is a less stressful job and, honestly, I enjoy it more.  I need to work for several more years and don’t think I would be successful if I stayed in the WL classroom.”  

D. Leaving the classroom and profession altogether 10%

“I am leaving teaching for now.  I’ve been teaching for 14 years, 10 years in my current school, and after the events of the last few years, I have decided to leave teaching and stay home with my children.  I don’t feel supported by my school and can’t stand the disrespect I see in the halls on a daily basis.  I’m hoping to stay home for a few years and then go back to teaching but in a much smaller school.”

“I have applied to teach for my state’s online school, but if I don’t get a position, I won’t be returning to the classroom. I am leaving mainly because of student behavior.”

“I am a third year teacher and it truly breaks my heart to become one of the many who are leaving teaching. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was 11 years old and have no idea what I am moving on to. I hope to return to teaching some day, but it won’t be next year. I started teaching during the Covid year and have become more and more exhausted as the years have gone by. I am three years in and am in danger of burn out.” 

“I am D– leaving the classroom all together! I’ve always known I wouldn’t stay in teaching forever but the stress of the Covid years and overall burnout has pushed me to leave even sooner than I thought.”

“I am D! I am engaged and moving to Italy with my fianceé. I am sad to leave the profession as I have been doing so since 2007 but I am excited to finally join my partner and live together, happily ever after.”

“D! How sad! I have been teaching Spanish at a private elementary school in the Bay area for 10 years, and sadly I am drained of having 280 students (Kinder-5th) every year with no teacher’s aide and very limited help from the ones on top. If it weren’t for the parents who give very generously during Christmas time and at the end of the year, I wouldn’t feel valued and appreciated at my current school.” 

“Leaving the profession next year!  It no longer works for me; I’m either burnt-out or I have completed my interest in teaching.  And I can’t blame it all on the students or administration.  Students rely more on outside resources and choose not to think for themselves and administration (at least in my district) believe that students can do no wrong and that the teachers are accountable for everything.  It’s totally messed up!  So I am leaving at the end of next semester because I no longer want to work with students who do not want to think for themselves.  We are losing the essence of education, of the ability to think and it breaks my heart.”

“I am leaving teaching this year. I was an administrator for 6 years and came back to teach Spanish this last year. For now i’m leaving the profession and going to entrepreneurship but we will see what happens.” 

“I am leaving the profession after 15 years of teaching Spanish at all levels – from middle school, high school 1-4, and college levels 101, 102, 103. I am leaving to stay home with my almost three-year old son, and sub one or two days a week to bring in a little bit of money. I will renew my teaching license when it expires this December, but I am enrolled in courses to pursue an RN degree, and I don’t see myself coming back to full-time secondary teaching anytime soon.”

E. Retiring 1%

“I am retiring early.  I am in the best building with the best administration in a great district.  I am just tired of being tired.  Putting in long hours and still can’t satisfy myself.  The behaviors of the students are continually an issue and I beat myself up.  I am done.”  

“Retiring for the second time, as we are moving away from the area.”

F. Staying in the same position 78%

“I am staying. I am disheartened, discouraged, and disillusioned, but determined. Gotta see this out because my kids will be coming through this school, I don’t know what else I would do that would allow me the same vacation times as them, etc., and because I am at the point in my career that I am confident in what I do and how I do it.”  

“I would love to leave the profession but feel stuck due to the insurance and pension at retirement. I have 12 years left. I may not make it but I’m trying.”

“I’m “F” right now after wanting to leave teaching completely earlier this year.  With 20 years in a classroom, I’m closer to retirement than I can comfortably walk away from. Benefits and flexibility with my schedule (especially when children are sick) are two of the main reasons after the time I have invested.  So tired and would LOVE to find a new path in life but will have to be content with making plans for that new path right now.  At least my summer break has already started and I’ve been able to volunteer for field days and end-of-year celebrations.” 

“F, but I want it to be D.”

“Truth be told, I have 4 more years till retirement and I am only staying so that I can retire. I have no desire to teach anymore- our district has become very pro-private/charter schools-anti-public education, and parents and board members have been very rude to teachers these past few years. If my husband and I were financially well off and we didn’t have a mortgage (and we didn’t live in California, which is super expensive these days), I’d be resigning right now. I love the kids and my friends at work, but being a teacher is no longer enjoyable and I am burned out.”

“F.  But ONLY because I have 2 years until I retire. I seriously considered applying for a librarian position in my town, but decided to tough it out.”

“I tried teaching in another district closer to my home, but it was NOT a good fit for me. My current position is in a smaller district where I can get to know the students easier and everything is more laid back. I love it here. :)” 

“I love my job!! Yes, there are times when it’s hard, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.” 

“I am going to give teaching one more year. Making plans to start my own business.”

“I am an F this year–staying in the same position. But next year is my 28 and that may very well be IT. Burnout is real and the pitiful pay doesn’t give me an incentive to stay.”

“F ~ I am staying in the same position but really am not looking forward to the next school year!  I am drained, stressed and majorly burned out after teaching during a pandemic; virtual learning, parent expectations and administrative expectations. etc.”

“F but I have considered D a lot!”

“I am staying in my same position so that I can be with my upcoming seniors through graduations after the 2022-2023 school year, if I stay in the profession, I am considering leaving my current district. I am also considering leaving the profession altogether.”

“F- I couldn’t get an offer outside of education before by contract was due at my district.”

“I am staying in the same position in my urban school district.  We have had lots of struggles: 4 different principals in 4 years, district leaders who disparage teachers, an evaluation system that seems to destroy rather than build confidence, a few students and even parents who are more angry and sometimes violent, and a lot of sadness.  There has also been a lot of joy, pride in accomplishments and fun moments together.  I love being creative in the classroom and creating bonds with students.  I understand why others are leaving. I’m just not there at this time. It probably helps that I raised 5 children myself and came from the social services field which also churns people up and spurs them out.  So far Education is a step up!”

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2 Responses

  1. Glad you did this. Made me feel like I’m not alone. Things have majorly changed since 20ish yrs ago, when I taught for 3 yrs then left to go into real estate to protect the Spanish speaking buyers from getting taken advantage of. Came back to teaching 4 yrs ago, still helping friends and referrals buying/selling homes.

    With my situation, I have a bad taste in my mouth about teaching. Kids are awesome it’s admin that’s a challenge.

    1. You are definitely not alone. ❤️ I hope you are able to rest and recharge this summer and things will be better in the fall. Maybe a shakeup in admin?

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