Leaving mid-year harms students’ learning

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Teachers may leave in the middle of the year if they chance upon a better job or have to attend to other more important duties. In the end, this undermines the learning experience for students. When a teacher leaves during the school year, the school must find an immediate replacement. The urgency to fill the position pressures the school, and will likely result in the hiring of short- or long-term substitutes, who are usually less experienced and may not be able to teach the students as effectively. Students lose instructional time due to the setbacks of a teacher’s replacement, including the time it takes into adapting to a new teacher. According to a study in the American Educational Research Journal, students lose about 54 days of academic growth when a teacher leaves in the middle of the school year. Ultimately, teachers leaving mid-year disrupts the learning process.

Students who sign up for an Advanced Placement class are required to sign a contract that binds them to a one-year commitment of the class. If students are required to stay in the class for the full school year, they should be guaranteed the best possible learning experience. In order to ensure this, teachers must stay to teach for the entire year’s course, or be more prepared to make up for the time of their absence. Students should have the reassurance that their teacher will put in the effort to do their job year-round.  

The disruption of teachers leaving mid-year can have long-term effects on a student’s life. For example, substitutes may not teach effectively in the material. If a student does not learn what is supposed to be taught in that year, they may fall behind the next year. This puts students at a disadvantage if they are planning to take a more advanced class the following year. Students may not be at the level that teachers expect if they did not learn the fundamentals.

Others may contend that a teacher will most likely not have any say in when they leave. Thus, they do not intend to disrupt the learning process for their students, but rather, they are forced by necessity and timeliness to leave for any reason. However, the students’ learning and development should still be a teacher’s top priority. There are ways for teachers to leave mid-year while still giving their students a sufficient education.

If a teacher is planning to leave in the middle of the year, they should make it known to the school and their students at the beginning of the school year to ease confusion. This will allow the school to plan in advance for a replacement, which will likely result in a more qualified substitute. The departing teacher should also leave behind a lesson plan for the rest of the year to ensure that their students are still learning after they leave.

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