ST. PAUL, Minn. - When Janelle Voxland-Flomo first started teaching, she herself got a lesson, quickly learning it would not be 40 hours a week.
“Our job,” said Voxland-Flomo, “Is not just 7 to 3.”
A month into teaching middle school math, Inga Dudley, too, has found her full-time job is far more than full time.
“You have to be ready to put in the hours,” said Dudley. “It’s a lot. There's the teaching and then there's the extra things on top of that, that are expected.”
It's a common feeling among Minnesota teachers, a fourth of which the Minnesota Department of Education says leave the field in their first three years.
“We are seeing a mass exit out of our profession,” said Denise Specht, President of Education Minnesota, the state’s teacher’s union.
One reason? Burnout, which a study this year by the state Department of Education shows is the top cause of teacher resignations, so much that this week's MEA conference in St. Paul has sessions on mindfulness and managing stress.
But the report shows Minnesota teachers are also struggling with student debt, low pay, a lack of respect, support and mentors, combining to make what Education Minnesota now calls “a crisis.”
“We have to fill the holes of the leaky bucket so that people don't leave,” said Specht. “We want them to choose teaching and then we want them to stay.”
Leaders say that means pay raises, better funding, less paperwork and more autonomy, all keys, they say, to not just hiring teachers, but keeping them.
“I think it's really time to look for spaces and places to honor teachers on an ongoing basis,” said Voxland-Flomo.