7 Quick Strategies for Retaining Teachers

The nation is experiencing the biggest wave of retirements ever, as teachers born in the Baby Boom era (1946-64) gradually reach age 65. More than , and the rate for those in low-income schools is even higher. The number of college students planning to enter the teaching field is at its lowest point since 1970, per a 2016 survey by the University of California. How does a principal, school district or superintendent retain the best teachers? Below is a list of 7 strategies to successfully retain teachers.

1. Create a supportive management environment

Research from the National Association of Secondary School Principals shows that the single most important aspect of a school’s culture is the leadership and management style of the principal. In a 2001 study, the Philadelphia Education Fund found that schools had lower teacher turnover when the principal:

  • Had an open-door office policy
  • Met with new or incoming teachers
  • Allowed latitude in decision-making
  • Made communication a priority
  • Supported teachers on disciplinary issues
  • Created a respectful environment for all students and teachers

2. Provide leadership opportunities

Does your school create pathways for teachers who are interested in leadership roles? It’s important to distinguish accomplished teachers in such roles as planners, peer assistants, teacher coaches or instructional leaders. You reap the rewards of having experienced teachers assist their peers, while they gain professional development, learn leadership skills and get real-world experience in administration.

3. Establish a mentoring program

Similarly, creating a mentorship program can benefit both experienced and new teachers. The experienced educators can be a touchstone for the inexperienced ones, answering questions on protocol and lesson plans and translating school culture. Those who mentor are doing what they do best – teaching – and are recognized for their strengths, while those being mentored benefit from the involvement and advice.

4. Improve the work environment

The culture of a work environment may begin with leadership, but it also involves resources and flexibility.

  • Are teachers assigned in the areas of their certifications and expertise?
  • Are textbooks and computers plentiful enough for all who need them?
  • Are classrooms and hallways clean, safe and in good repair?
  • Can staffing and scheduling be adapted when needed, even in innovative ways like job sharing?

All these attributes and more – from class size to whether classroom supplies are readily available – influence teacher retention.

5. Keep up to date with educational technology

Maintaining tools and technology in the classroom is vital for teacher retention and effective student learning. Not every school can afford the highest level of technology, but a principal or superintendent has a vital role in keeping the district informed of hardware, software and training needs. Are tablets, laptops, printers, video equipment and monitors up to date and working? Is the staff trained on how to use the equipment and take advantage of all the aspects of technology?

6. Reach out to the community

Partnerships between the school and the community can increase the resources and support available to your teachers. By reaching out to community experts, professional organizations, corporations and universities, educational leaders can create a growing “network” of guest speakers, tutors, field trip opportunities, job shadowing, conference possibilities and mentorships.

7. Study incentive programs

Many schools, especially in low-income areas, offer signing bonuses to new teachers, but that often isn’t enough to accomplish significant retention. To find a solution, several areas of the country have established teacher incentive programs, where compensation increases based on specific levels of performance. A 2014 research report by Hanover Research found that incentives do indeed increase teacher retention, but are most successful when paired with such things as supportive environments, smaller class loads, strong principals and high-quality professional development.

Meeting the Challenges of Education

The education world is filled with challenges and requires leaders to ensure quality teaching strategies and curriculums. To learn more about how you can positively influence your educational environment, learn more about the George Washington University’s (GW) online Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration, Education Specialist (EdS) and Post-Master’s Certificate programs. Request information or call 844-386-7323 to speak with an admissions advisor.