In the world of education, teacher retention plays a pivotal role in creating a stable and effective learning environment. In a report from the Rand Corporation, it was found that teacher turnover increased 4 percentage points above pre pandemic levels, reaching 10 percent nationally at the end of the 2021–2022 school year. Principal turnover increased too, reaching 16 percent nationally going into the 2022–2023 school year. Teacher turnover can negatively impact students, schools, and communities alike. Correlational research has demonstrated that schools with higher teacher turnover have lower student achievement (Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2005; Guin, 2004). Teacher recruitment continues to be challenging and the pool of certificated teachers is at concerning levels. Shortages often mean schools must look to hire alternatively certified teachers, and fewer qualified and experienced teachers (Dee & Goldhaber, 2017). Therefore, education leaders and school administrators must not forget about the importance of retaining teachers by creating a positive school culture that fosters teacher quality, continual learning, and social-emotional support. In this blog, we will explore strategies to fill vacancies, retain teachers, and establish a lasting educational environment that promotes academic achievement and staff satisfaction.
1. Building a Positive School Culture
A positive school culture is the foundation for teacher retention. Schools that cultivate a culture of respect, support, and collaboration create an environment where both students and teachers thrive. To achieve this:
Encourage Professional Development: Provide opportunities for continual learning and growth. A study from Southern Connecticut State University suggests a professional development program that focuses on personal growth and individualized areas of need rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Effective professional development programs, like SUCCEED with TRUE-SPEAK from McGrath Training Solutions, help teachers stay engaged and inspired in their careers.
Recognize and Appreciate Staff Members: Acknowledge the hard work and dedication of teachers and staff regularly. Taking time to recognize what your staff is doing well will reinforce strong performance and can go a long way in boosting morale. Include specific, observable details and the impact of their actions in acknowledgments.
Provide Constructive Feedback: Staff crave supportive leadership and the opportunity for growth even more than higher salaries. Think of supervision as the growing ground of everybody engaged in the endeavor of enhanced performance - and feedback as the channel for growth. Providing feedback to your employees at a low temperature will help them to be "seen" and to grow from marginal to very good, or from very good to superior.
Promote Social-Emotional Wellbeing: Teachers have personal circumstances that can affect their performance. Create avenues for teachers and staff to address their emotional needs and work with teachers to find ways to meet their job duties and their personal circumstances. Supporting their mental health enhances job satisfaction and reduces burnout.
2. Investing in Quality Teachers
Teachers are at the heart of a successful education environment. By investing in quality teachers, schools can significantly impact student learning outcomes and teacher retention. Consider the following strategies:
Attract Experienced Teachers: While new educators bring enthusiasm, experienced teachers often offer stability and a wealth of knowledge. Strive for a balanced mix to provide mentorship and continuity.
Offer Competitive Salaries and Benefits: Fair compensation is vital to retain skilled educators. In addition to competitive salaries, consider benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and support for housing and transportation.
Provide Support for Novice Teachers: A Harvard report stated that when teachers lack self-efficacy, they are more likely to stop teaching. Early-career support programs, mentorships, and peer networks can help new teachers navigate the challenges of their profession.
3. Creating a Strong School Community
A cohesive school community can significantly contribute to teacher retention. A sense of belonging and purpose drives educators to remain committed to their work. Here's how to achieve this:
Promote Collaborative Spaces: Encourage teamwork among teachers and staff, enabling them to share ideas and resources, and work together to achieve common goals.
Engage Parents and Guardians: Involve families in the education process to strengthen the bond between school and home. Engaged parents are more likely to support teachers and the school community.
Involve Students in Decision-Making: Let students have a say in certain school matters. When students feel included and respected, the overall school culture becomes more positive.
Emphasize the School's Impact: Remind teachers of the significant impact they have on students' lives. Helping them see their value reinforces their commitment to their profession.
Creating a lasting educational environment that retains quality teachers requires deliberate effort from education leaders and school administrators. A positive school culture, investment in quality teachers, and a strong school community are essential pillars to build upon. By recognizing the value of teachers and providing continuous support, schools can create an environment where students and educators flourish, leading to improved academic achievement and a harmonious learning community. Through collective efforts and a focus on teacher retention and a reduction in teacher turnover, we can shape a brighter future for both students and educators alike.