A 2015 National Center of Education Statistics survey on teacher attrition found that about 15% of all teachers leave the profession within five years. A 2015 NPR article states that nearly half of all teachers will leave the school they are currently at, with rates being higher in high-poverty schools. This rate of attrition is troublesome to schools and districts as they spend thousands of dollars per year on teacher on-boarding and training. A report from the Alliance for Excellent Education indicates that teacher attrition costs the United States up to 2.2 billion dollar annually.
Here are five ways to improve teacher retention rates.
- Give Teachers a Voice
Great principals hire the right teachers and then get out of the way. Why hire the best a brightest and then tell them what to do? Let’s stop micro-managing teachers. Teachers need to have a seat at the table. They are the ones that need to be leading teams on curriculum choices, instructional approaches, and school procedures as they spend their days working directly with children.
- Give New Teachers On-Going Professional Development
Too often, new teachers are given the keys to their classrooms and wished good luck. The on-boarding process of many school districts is virtually non-existent. We spend way too much time during those precious days after teachers are hired and before the school year starts talking at them about district procedures, print shop ordering forms, and how to call in a substitute teacher. They should be spending that time on professional development that matters: instructional practices, intervention systems, data analysis, formative assessment creation … We don’t need to waste time on housekeeping.
- Provide Opportunities for Teacher Leadership
Strong teachers need to be encouraged to step into leadership roles. Strong teachers have great ideas on how to improve and move a school forward. It is important to test out new ideas and take risks. This keeps our educational system healthy and innovative. There is nothing worse for new teachers to experience than having their new ideas shunned by a system that is focused on repeating itself rather than innovation.
- Bring in Technology
When it comes to technology, it is hard for education to compete with private industry. Upon being hired into the private workforce, employees are issued new laptops, iPhones, tablets and other tools. In many districts, teachers get a ten year old desktop computer, or if they are lucky, a refurbished laptop. We need to do a better job in bring technology into schools and getting it into the hands of teachers. They will be excited about the possibilities that the technology will give them. In turn, their students will also be excited. This will create an atmosphere of innovation, a characteristic that new teachers are looking for in a school / district.
- Pay Them A Decent Wage
I put salary on this list because I believe it should be. While research shows that it is not the biggest factor for teachers leaving the profession, I do believe that it is a major consideration. In many metropolitan communities across the country, new teachers can’t afford their own apartment. They are forced to live further out, requiring them to drive long distances to and from work everyday, or have to live with several roommates. Teachers should make enough money to live in the communities they work in. It is hard to convince someone to stay in the profession when they are priced out of the housing market.
Dr. David Franklin is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions.