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Why are teachers leaving the profession, and how can we convince them to stay?

It’s a complicated, long-standing problem that requires a multifaceted solution. As an assistant principal at West Nassau High School in rural Florida, I’m continuously searching for ways to address this issue.

I have found that one tactic is providing my teachers with instructional resources that are easy to implement, engaging for students and cost-efficient. Spending $300 on curriculum materials instead of thousands of dollars on new textbooks just makes sound financial sense.

I have witnessed how online curricula, such as Teachers Pay Teachers for Schools, have changed the minds of even the teachers most skeptical of online materials. They have discovered that the download-and-use resources allow them to take a break from the constant lesson-planning and creation.

Related: The exhausting life of a first-year teacher

For example, I surprised one of my veteran teachers, who was frustrated with outdated health textbooks but skeptical of online resources, with a ready-to-use and relevant curriculum bundle from the site, and she continues to thank me for making lesson-planning easier and less time-consuming.

Nearly eight percent of the teaching workforce leaves the profession every year, while teacher education enrollment fell by nearly 35 percent between 2009 and 2014, according to The Learning Policy Institute.

These shortages force schools to increase class sizes, hire substitutes and leave non-classroom positions vacant, all of which affect student success and classroom engagement.

Related: Are teachers losing their grip on the middle class?

Teaching, particularly in the first year, can be grueling. Anywhere from 17 percent to 46 percent of new teachers quit within their first five years for myriad reasons, including the challenge of determining how best to engage students day to day.

New teachers, and even veterans, can spend hours poring over outdated materials and through mountains of lackluster workbooks to find timely, purposeful materials that meet the needs of kids in their classrooms.

I know there is value in creating an environment where teachers can rest and recharge, so they can bring their best selves every day to the students they serve.

Related: Teacher pay by state

I hear from my educators that access to Teachers Pay Teachers for Schools has significantly cut down on the time, money and energy needed to prepare for instruction, leaving more space for them to experience the joys of teaching.

I believe this has helped bolster teacher happiness and retention at West Nassau High School, and created a better learning environment for our students.

The strength and sustainability of a society is in part based on its schools. It should be a priority to keep caring and qualified teachers in classrooms.

To play off the age-old adage “Feed them, and they will come,” I think those of us in education should say, “Provide teachers with quality resources, and they will stay!”

This story about online teacher resources was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for our newsletter.

Kelly Burnette is the assistant principal of instruction at West Nassau High School in Callahan, Florida.

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  1. Amen. The “cheatsheet” for lesson plans and class materials has traditionally been the Teacher Supplementary materials associated with the Teacher Editions of the textbooks.
    After a hundred years, the Phila Sch Dist, Pa has started a Science Curriculum Engine where teachers share/utilize lesson plans

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