(NewsNation) — A poll taken by the National Education Association earlier this year found that 55% of teachers are considering leaving the profession earlier than they originally planned. That’s something Eila West, a second grade teacher at a Chicago elementary school, said she’s seen happen in her own life.
“I know there are many staff members that have been leaving the field to do different related fields like nannying,” West said.
Although West said she can’t see herself doing anything else besides teaching as it’s her “passion,” she added that something more needs to be done to retain teachers.
In the education association’s survey, teachers cited school shootings, politics interfering in lesson plans, the COVID-19 pandemic and low pay as reasons for quitting.
“Following the pandemic, we’ve been doing everything we can to support our students and catch them up, not just academically, but also socially and emotionally,” West said. “And now with all of these nationwide tragedies going on, I know that that is something that we are definitely trying to navigate through on how to best support students and families.”
Because of mass shootings such as the one at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers, West said teachers have found they also have to prepare for these kinds of situations as well.
“We’re definitely doing our best to work with our students to get them educated and prepare with lockdown drills,” West said. “There is not an easy answer. I know that there are teachers that are speaking up for the safety of our students as well as ourselves. And I think that speaking with our students and families and preparing the best we can is the best way to go about it.”
With so much going on, teachers have had to take over many different roles, making for a stressful time, West said.
It doesn’t help that teachers are underpaid, she added.
“To keep teachers in the building and to keep teachers continuing to teach, I think that pay is something that needs to be heavily considered,” she said.