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Joining or Avoiding the Educator Exodus

To stay or not to stay, that is the question. Saying that the 2020-2021 school year was difficult for teachers would be an understatement. We navigated virtual learning, hybrid learning, transitioning to 100% traditional learning in some cases, all while being evaluated and fearing contracting COVID-19 in our classroom. I’m not sure what the qualifications are for being considered a superhero, but I am sure we exceeded the minimum requirement this school year. 
Considering the amount of stress and risk it took to perform at peak levels this school year, many are considering joining the educator exodus. In fact, some predict a massive exodus due to the dangers of contracting COVID-19 and due to lack of effort to mitigate the virus in certain school systems.
If you are considering leaving the classroom, I won’t judge one bit. You know what is best for you and must act accordingly. However, before you pack your things, look below for two reasons you should reconsider leaving.  
Final Level Complete
If you are a gamer or enjoy games from time to time, you know that challenges gradually become harder and harder to overcome as the plot progresses. As soon as you celebrate one victory, the next boss or enemy humbles you. Well this year, you conquered the biggest, and most tenacious boss ever: the 2020 school year. 
What does all this gaming talk mean? Considering that teaching through a pandemic was arguably the toughest year in history for teachers and students alike, what else do you have to fear? The likelihood of the next year is as difficult or traumatic as this year, is unlikely. This literally means, it can only get better from here. 
The 2021 school year will bring its challenges. However, this year we can say that we are better prepared. Furthermore, the skills you honed during this unprecedented year of teaching will only enhance the strategies and skills you possessed prior to the pandemic. You deserve to enjoy the fruit of your labor; you deserve to have the opportunity to wield the knowledge amassed. 
What About the Kids
Many educators enter the profession to help kids. Keeping them at the forefront of our minds could be enough motivation to stay. Considering the alarming amount of teachers joining the exodus, students could likely return to novice teachers. While novice teachers have a prime opportunity to learn new skills, the tradeoff cost is underperforming while grappling with new concepts. 
The effects of students learning in a virtual environment, compounded with students returning to classrooms filled with novice teachers could have a lasting impact. I’m not here to “guilt-trip” you. As educators, we have to consider one of the most important stakeholders in our community: the student. Do what is best for your health by making the best decision for you. But if you have the ability to, please consider what is best for the student as well. It may be difficult to satisfy both needs, but all one can do is try. 
To Leave or Not to Leave
It would be unfortunate to stick it out when it was bad, but join the educator exodus when it becomes better. Not to mention that legislation is being considered to offer more resources to mitigate the virus as well as a more competitive salary to teachers! 
While I am optimistic, I am not naïve. I know that some health risks remain if you decide to stay in the profession. However, I do see merit in leveraging the skills acquired this school year to propel you and your kids forward. Teaching during a pandemic afforded us the opportunity to master skills that we might not have mastered otherwise. 
Although we have every reason to nurture the urge to leave, we also have every reason to see the glass half-filled. There will always be reasons to leave a career or job. There are just as many reasons to stay. Many of the engagement strategies we used to intrigue our students, the learning platforms we mastered to teach in a virtual environment, not to mention the relationship we forged to better understand our students in a distant learning environment, is credited to the pandemic. 

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