5 Ideas for Keeping Top Teachers
By now, we are all familiar with the horror stories about teacher attrition rates. Teacher retention is a key problem standing in the way of the nation’s educational progress. And, although more money and better working conditions certainly help, many teachers who are considering leaving the profession are also interested in growing as professionals, collaborating, and making a broader effect on their schools and districts. Here are five ideas on how to bring those changes about in your own school.
1. Reevaluate how meeting times are used
Consider "flipping" your meetings, dispersing the minutiae through email or other avenues and reserving the meeting time for what it should be used for: collaboration and connection. In tasks such as analyzing data or sharing edtech best practices, stack the deck. Make sure that each group is comprised of people who might not come into contact with each other otherwise.
2. Ask teachers how they want to develop as professionals
Teachers often point at “sit and get” professional development as a waste of time and money, such as when the topic is vague or unrelated to the classroom environments in which they find themselves. Your teachers know their shortcomings, so doesn’t it make sense to ask them what they would like to improve upon?
All it takes is a few well-timed surveys to improve your professional development strategies, which will equate to teachers becoming better engaged with their training. When everyone is working on the same thing, a more collegial culture blooms.
3. Survey your teachers for their input
Teacher input is being stifled.
Set aside some time, either during a faculty meeting or at a separate gathering, to have a constructive conversation about how the school is working for everyone. The administration can set up a survey with potential questions for the meeting. Then, all educators can vote on what they would like to talk about. The constructive ideas will always float to the top.
4. Provide opportunities for autonomy
For true professionals, success sometimes comes with boredom and burnout unless new challenges are found. In teaching, new challenges that are often suggested include going into administration or changing schedules.
Instead, challenges can still be found within the "success zone." Teachers should feel as if they can avail themselves of any opportunities they find that can better their craft and broaden their horizons. They might pilot a new curriculum or pedagogical idea. They can go to a conference to bring back ideas that can be taught to their colleagues. Stagnation leads to burnout. Burnout leads to teachers leaving.
5. Share the wealth districtwide
Successful teachers rarely want to leave the classroom, yet they still want to be recognized for their success and want to have an impact throughout the district. It's in the best interest of the district to find ways for these educators to have a broader impact.
One idea is to lead video-based, districtwide webinars on any shortcomings the district might see in classroom instruction. Others ideas include hosting temporary stints on coaching duty for other teachers and having classroom substitutes for a few days so that an accomplished teacher can help teachers at other schools. Coaching from a mentor-teacher still in the classroom can have a transformative effect on other teachers.
Keeping your teachers happy and feeling appreciated can go a long way in fostering teacher retention. Check out these creative ways to celebrate your staff to make their day!
This post was originally published April 2019 and has been updated.