Keeping teachers is one of the hardest things to do as an administrator.
The best teachers you hire will always want more and strive for the next step in their careers. They’ll excel in almost every capacity, meaning they’ll catch the attention of you, their peers, and maybe even administrators at other schools.
You may have worked with other teachers who just phone it in — maybe because they’re burnt out — and make excuses to keep their job.
But there has to be a middle ground, right?
There has to be a way to keep your outstanding teachers, identify teachers you shouldn’t hire, and coach those in the middle so they can join your frontrunners at the top.
These are the seven most successful (and shockingly easy) teacher retention methods that any administrator can use!
Everyone likes to feel like they can approach their boss. It doesn’t matter if they serve tables at a restaurant, sell military-grade jet engines, or teach at a school!
Being approachable typically entails creating a supportive and helpful management policy that’s a reflection of your personality.
Your policies for collaboration, interaction, questions, and more all play roles in that idea.
But supporting and helping teachers goes beyond simple policy. It also includes your management culture.
Management culture is an amorphous concept. You can simplify the whole thing by thinking about it like this:
For example, let’s say the head of your district’s IT team has a hard policy on external emails going to teachers’ work email addresses. They almost always get caught in spam filters.
But for teachers who use digital curriculum and other online tools, this can cause a lot of problems!
When those teachers approach you with the issue, you can navigate it in a handful of ways.
Most administrators may consider hardlining their IT department’s policy, which would upset the teachers. They may also consider advocating for the teachers entirely, which could complicate the IT team.
Savvy administrators may discover a way for both parties to win, though. They may know that IT teams need hard spam filters to protect the school district. But they may also recognize that some teachers get important information from a third-party vendor.
In that case, an administrator may ask the IT team to whitelist the vendor in question so that teachers can get the information they need without violating school policies.
This balances the needs of the teachers and your IT team while showing both sides that you care about their work. You’re available to make someone’s life easier — but you’re also considerate about the existing policies.
This marriage of policy and personality can go a long way when you’re establishing a culture of supportive management.
You can also consider adopting any of these other policies that outright support your teaching staff:
So why is this all important?
Because according to the Learning Policy Institute, teachers leave their current positions so they can pursue new opportunities.
That means they feel they can get something at a new job that they can’t get from their current one.
By creating an open and supportive management culture, you give all of your teachers a powerful reason to stay with your school.
Mentorship is a careful art that requires determination, dedication, and positivity.
It’s also an intricate relationship that thrives on platonic, professional engagement and involvement in one another’s personal lives.
Some administrators may avoid mentorship because it just sounds hard. How do you know when it begins, and when do you know that it ends?
Truthfully, mentorship never actually concludes. A strong mentor-protégé relationship lasts a lifetime and brings mutual benefits to both parties.
The mentor helps the protégé develop professionally and personally, and the protégé reflects the accomplishments, work ethic, and influence of the mentor.
So how do you identify a solid protégé?
It’s important to find someone who’s driven in their work. Typically, this means someone who’s passionate about teaching, which probably applies to almost everyone on your teaching staff.
Your protégé also has to be an independent thinker. You can’t take on someone just because they seem like a “mini you” or a yes-man. They have to be their own individual.
Third, look for individuals who show skills and ideas that you lack. This is important because mentorship is a two-way street.
When you find someone who challenges you with new ideas and opportunities, you learn something from your protégé just like they learn something from you!
Basically, it breaks down to a handful of choices you have to make.
First, create a penalty-free environment. This means that your teachers are allowed to make mistakes as your protégé, but they have to learn from them.
If fear of any kind enters the mentor-protégé relationship, then the protégé is not free to fully develop themselves. The protégé has to be free to try and fail.
Second, the protégé has to be the leader in the relationship. This may seem strange since the mentor has more experience and clout.
But that’s actually why the mentor should follow. They get to see the protégé, their interests, their passions, and their pursuits. Then, the mentor offers their insights into how the protégé can improve.
In that way, it’s practically guaranteed that every action yields a positive learning experience for the protégé — even if something goes horribly wrong.
Last, a mentor and protégé should always look for new learning opportunities. Whether these opportunities are for themselves or each other, every chance to learn something new is an opportunity for growth.
By identifying a strong protégé and creating a positive mentoring environment, you’re off to a strong start to help your best teachers become even better!
Community is a powerful concept.
In almost any context, “community” means the same thing — a gathering of like-minded individuals looking out for one another because they share similar values.
This can apply to an educator community. It can apply to your local community of businesses and graduates from your school as well!
In fact, connecting your local community to your classroom has a laundry list of positive effects.
Most notably, it can help with work-based learning (WBL) initiatives that you have for CTE students.
WBL works perfectly with local communities because the businesses in your area will probably hire a healthy portion of your students after they graduate.
As a result, who’s better to meet with your students while they’re still in middle school or high school than their future employers?
By bringing business owners into the classroom, creating shadowing opportunities for students, and even setting up internship programs, you can help your students prep for real-world careers before they graduate.
Plus, what better way for you and your teachers to network than to invite the community into your classroom?
In that way, you can also use classroom-community integration to assist in your mentorship goals for any teachers who want to expand their professional circles!
This helps retain teachers because you provide them with an outlet that makes their work more successful.
Career readiness is one of the biggest challenges facing teachers today. It’s essential for all educators to bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace.
When you can connect your teachers with the companies that’ll employ their students, you make it possible for your teachers to succeed above and beyond what they could do before.
Very few teachers would consider walking away from such a powerful connection like that because they know how valuable it is to their students and themselves.
Essentially, it gives teachers a powerful reason to stay and continue developing those community relationships for the benefit of their students.
While their study was restricted to the data they could get from California, it reveals several shocking patterns and insights into a teacher’s mentality when they’re leaving a position.
The study breaks these patterns and insights into two categories:
The study also looks into each issue in-depth, which summarily reveals that most teachers leave their positions at low-income schools to pursue better working conditions in higher-income schools.
While student behavior played a powerful role in this decision as well, its impact was significantly less when teachers worked in a more positive and modern classroom.
Essentially, teachers leave their current positions because their environment isn’t conducive to them performing well.
When a teacher feels like they could teach more effectively at another school (and make more money in the process), they’re primed to leave for another opportunity.
To combat this, you can invest in your facilities. Clean, well-lit classrooms are essential to long-term teacher retention, especially when they include the resources teachers need to work at their absolute best.
Modern technology can empower teachers to track their students’ data and accurately identify which students are struggling with different subjects.
Online learning resources might even help teachers stay productive — and keep their students productive — during snow days since they can access the resource from anywhere they have an Internet connection.
Even simple ideas like maintaining adequate supplies of markers, chalk, and erasers can make an enormous difference to a teacher’s mindset.
When your teachers feel like they can be at their best in your school, they’re much more likely to stick around!
Doesn’t it feel great to know what you’re working toward in life?
Corporations around the world recognize this and act on it every day. When they hire an entry-level employee, they don’t just give that employee work to do — they groom new employees to climb the corporate ladder.
This includes showing new employees a list of accomplishments and expectations they can achieve to progress to the next level of their career.
The private sector does this because it’s so much more expensive to hire someone new than it is to promote someone who already works for a company and knows its inner-workings.
The same is true in education!
Administrators have started investing in their teachers by giving them clear-cut paths on the road to promotion.
While policies, budgets, and other factors may change from year to year, you can still show teachers examples of what they have to do to either earn a pay raise or get a promotion.
This is an especially good idea for your most ambitious teachers. After all, if they can’t rise through the ranks to achieve their goals at your school, they’ll find somewhere else!
To give them a clear-cut path to success, lay out what they need to do in order to be considered for different incentives.
That way, your top teachers always have something new to achieve on the horizon.
This is exceptionally important for teachers or teaching assistants you employ who may not be full-time. In fact, 68% of educators who left a position said they would return just for the availability of a full-time teaching opportunity.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get 68% of your best teachers back into your classrooms?
Salary is always the elephant in the room.
Most teachers and administrators aren’t sure how to talk about it.
Everyone wants to focus on the most important part of teaching — the students — but we also have to face the fact that compliments and mentorship don’t pay someone’s mortgage.
Discussions about salaries are always cans of worms. They start out about pay, but they can divert in any direction.
Performance, respect, expectations, he-said-she-said — the list is endless.
But here’s the thing — salary matters.
That’s two-thirds of all of your teachers who have quit from your school district.
Maybe some of them aren’t worth the money.
Maybe a few of them have attitude problems.
But for most of them? It would be nice to have them back.
Believe it or not, you’d save a lot of money for your school district, too. It’s almost always more affordable to give a teacher a raise than for you to go through the hiring process all over again.
And if that person quits, you have to do the exact same thing next year!
You can save yourself and your teachers a lot of stress by having open and blunt conversations about salary.
More importantly, you can keep a lot of strong teachers by paying them a little bit more.
At AES, we hear a lot of teachers say the same thing.
“I’m a first-year teacher, my classes start tomorrow, and I have no idea what I’m doing.”
It breaks our hearts because we know these teachers want to do a good job, but they don’t know about the resources or techniques that they can use to teach in a classroom!
This is even true for health science instructors who may have taught coworkers how to do things all the time, but they’ve never stepped foot in a conventional classroom before.
Regardless of a teacher’s subject area, they all want the same things when they’re hired — preparation and guidance.
In other words, it’s in your best interest to make sure your teachers have the resources they need to succeed and know how to use them.
Digital curriculum, smartboards, projectors, televisions, learning management systems — they’re all important resources that teachers need to know how to use.
So prep your teachers. Show them the ropes. Open up a dialogue with them to cultivate a healthy relationship.
This just might be the start of something great for you, your teacher, your school, and your students!
Let’s talk brass tacks!
If you want to retain teachers, you have a lot of opportunities at your fingertips.
At AES, we hear teachers and administrators say they want the same three things from their resources:
That’s why AES develops digital curriculum systems for health science and business education teachers. A digital curriculum hits all three of those points and then some!
You can also use it to create reports on student performance, track teacher activity, and even create consistency in subject materials across multiple schools.
Sound too good to be true?
Learn more about digital curriculum to see how else it can help!