MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Stress has many Tennessee teachers considering quitting their job and leaving the industry for good. The number one reason? Teacher morale. According to a new survey from the Professional Educators of Tennessee, 22% of teachers say they did not plan to remain in education and 83% of educators who participated in the survey say they are concerned about teacher morale.
A former third-grade teacher with Shelby County Schools made the tough decision to leave the industry about two months ago after 15 years.
"I miss my students, but will I go back, right now? I can't say that," Wheeler said.
Wheeler said she had to stop teaching because she felt her health was at risk. COVID-19 added an extra level of stress to an already stressful career. Wheeler feared catching COVID from one of her students. Wheeler explains when a district doesn't make the safety of their teachers and staff a priority it creates a negative work environment.
"There are certain students who have covid and been exposed to covid and the only way they knew the students had covid was because maybe the parents called to inform that teacher," Wheeler said.
Wheeler said teachers love their job and have a passion for helping students grow and will stay in the industry if they got more support from district administrators.
According to the survey, comments from teachers across the state read:
"Support isn’t a blue jean day. it’s giving them the time they need to work on the assigned tasks without sacrificing their own families."
“I recently left teaching due to overwhelming demands and expectations put on teachers right now.”
"I regularly look for jobs outside of the teaching profession. I have had enough. My administrators are not supportive and I am tired of being told that my job is really to be a facilitator or a moderator."
We've reached out to Shelby County Schools to learn how the district is working to keep teachers employed but they haven't got back to us yet.