Proven Strategies for Increasing Teacher Retention Rates

Proven Strategies for Increasing Teacher Retention Rates

According to the National Education Association, approximately 50 percent of new teachers will leave the profession within their first five years of teaching. This high turnover rate is forcing several school districts to spend substantial amounts of time and money on recruiting new teachers, ultimately hindering the district's success and bottom line. Fortunately, schools can overcome this expensive and frustrating roadblock by increasing teacher retention rates.

But with so many strategies and suggestions out there for increasing teacher retention rates, how are you supposed to know which ones are truly effective? Don’t worry—after conducting extensive research, we’ve discovered which teacher retention methods are the most worthwhile:

Cultivate Collaboration

Even in a classroom full of students, teachers can still feel very much alone. And according to several studies, isolation can push teachers to leave the profession altogether. One study mentioned in “Support, Collaborate, Retain” found that when teachers did not have access to collaborative relationships, 1 out of every 5 left the profession. However, when schools provided opportunities for teachers to collaborate with one another, their teacher retention rates increased.

Fortunately, school districts can increase collaboration in formal, informal, and virtual settings. Several studies suggest that schools should plan meetings where teachers of the same subject and/or grade levels can come together and discuss their ideas for the classroom. Another proven method includes pairing new teachers up with a more experienced mentor so that they know who to turn to when they have a question. “Support, Collaborate, Retain” also emphasizes that networking among teachers, whether in person or online, has been proven to increase retention rates.

Empower Teachers to Succeed

When teachers can’t successfully teach their students, they become doubtful of their teaching abilities and may consider switching professions. In fact, a Harvard report confirms that when teachers lack self-efficacy, they are more likely to stop teaching. School districts can prevent this from happening (and according to studies, increase teacher retention rates instead) by giving their teachers the resources they need to be successful.

While various tools and services can help teachers succeed, one method has been proven to work exceptionally well for retaining teachers. According to a journal article published in Politics & Policy, high-quality induction and mentoring programs are the best method for increasing teacher retention. Giving teachers the chance to participate in conferences, e-learning courses and webinars are all effective ways to improve their teaching skills and boost their confidence.

Provide Them with Support

The level of support that teachers receive can make a huge difference in the way they feel about their jobs. A survey from the Center for Teacher Quality, which included responses from 32,000 teachers, revealed that support from colleagues and administrators is one of the most significant factors in a teacher’s decision to stay or leave the profession. By ensuring that teachers feel supported and cared for, administrators can keep teachers satisfied in their current positions.

To learn how to best support your teachers, start by giving them more opportunities to express their opinions and concerns. Allowing teachers to have monthly 1-on-1 meetings with administrators and/or the principal is a great way to provide these opportunities. Studies also suggest that schools should invite teachers to board meetings as well as include them in major district decisions. Once you identify what your teachers need most, such as certain resources or policies, be sure to respond to these needs to further support them.

Create Better Work Conditions

When teachers dislike their work environment, they may dread going to school as much as students do. A study from the Peabody Journal of Education revealed that the way in which teachers perceive their schools’ working conditions and environment “were the most significant predictors of beginning teacher’s morale, career choice commitment and plans to stay in teaching.” And fortunately, improving your school’s work environment doesn’t require costly repairs or renovations. One study from Teachers College Record found that when it comes to the school environment, teachers care more about cultural conditions than clean facilities or technology.

To ensure that your teachers have the best working conditions possible, promote a positive school culture where both teachers and students feel safe, trusted, and respected. Your school can cultivate a culture of safety by educating teachers as well as students on essential safety procedures, such as dealing with fires or earthquakes. To promote an environment of trust, give teachers more control over the way in which their classrooms are managed. Finally, establish respect among teachers and students by implementing team-building activities at least once a month and offering opportunities for group decision-making.

Unless schools take action to mitigate teacher turnover, the problems associated with a dwindling teacher population will only intensify in the coming years. Fortunately, recent studies and teacher feedback have revealed proven methods that will improve the likelihood of teacher retention. Along with mitigating the significant costs associated with turnover, these strategies will strengthen the overall fabric of schools by cultivating effective collaboration, increasing teacher success, and improving school culture. As a result, district leaders can create a school environment in which both students and teachers can thrive.

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