Authors: Adam Babcock and Allison Stribble
What can administrators do to retain teachers in their buildings while other educators are leaving the profession at alarming rates?
As an administrator it is scary to see the number of teachers leaving the profession and the decrease in students enrolled in the teacher education courses at universities. This creates a challenge for principals: How do we retain the teachers we have now? Below you will find a few strategies to help combat this problem in education today from an administrator’s point of view.
Get input from your teachers. Not just for strategic planning, leadership meetings, and School Improvement Council meetings. Real input on how you can help make their job better. What do they need to truly teach their students? Listen with open ears and be willing to try new ideas to relieve some of the outside stressors that may keep your teachers from reaching their true potential in the classroom with their students.
Be a LEADER not an EVALUATOR. Teachers want to know that their administrator is there to help them grow, not tear them down. Provide mentors for your teachers both new and veteran to give them the support they need. Offer suggestions not ultimatums. Respect them as a professional at all times.
Be the one to say THANK YOU, when so many times teaching can be a thankless job. Everyone wants to be appreciated. We continue to put more and more on our teachers, but when do we say Thank You? Teachers are required to do more paperwork, cover more standards, and work longer hours but have been given no extra pay. As administrators we can’t raise their salary, but we can PRAISE them for their dedication, hard work, and the impact they have on our students daily. A Thank You can go a long way. I have noticed that my teachers really appreciate a handwritten note. I will find them hanging on their bulletin board or even taped to their desk. Take the time to say Thank You.
Build a Culture that is hard to leave. The culture of your school should be inviting and allow teachers to feel that they have a voice, are appreciated, and valued every day. I love Richard Branson’s quote: “I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people will flourish when they are praised.” If you strive to create this type of culture, teachers will be less likely to leave for a higher paycheck. Reward teachers for their hard work and praise them often with small gifts, duty free lunches, jean passes, lunch off campus, and even your parking space. Knowing that you recognize their work and reward them for their achievements will boost morale and help build a positive culture in the building. A culture that will make it hard for them to leave!
Time Tells the Full Story. As expectations rise, time becomes more valuable. While the research behind collaboration has been loudly drummed near and far for more than a decade now, we have yet to see significant policy changes that reward or otherwise fund ongoing collaboration that does not intrude on teachers’ existing preparation time. One component of a teachers’ work day that administrators do have a significant say in is the school’s schedule. When new initiatives arrive, the work teachers put into those initiatives or innovations often comes at the cost of an existing planning period…or two…maybe even weekly. Teachers are well overdue for an extra planning period to account for the significant effort that needs to go into collaboration or innovation. Administrators don’t have to blow up the master schedule to make this happen. They can find an extra planning period or time to meet with teachers first by filling supervisory duties with non-instructional staff, coaches, community volunteers or assistant principals. What we make time for is what we get done.
Teaching is hard. The amount of work, intelligence, and skills that are required to be an effective teacher should not be overlooked. These professionals should be compensated monetarily for the work they do each day. As an administrator I do not have a direct impact on teacher salary, but I can have an impact on the other vital aspects that will help retain the best employees. Listen to your teachers, be a mentor and leader that they respect, praise them for their work, and build a culture that promotes happiness. Teacher retention is important for the future of our students!
About Adam Babcock
A Technology Integration Specialist in Spartanburg District Seven and former high school teacher, Adam is an Apple Learning Specialist, Microsoft Innovative Educator (yeah, you can be both!), a South Carolina ASCD Emerging Leader and one of one-hundred 2014 PBS Learning Media Digital Innovators. Prior to coaching teachers, he taught high school through traditional and project-based learning approaches. Adam received his BA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; an MSEd in Instructional Technology at Northern Illinois University; and EdS in Administration and Supervision through Clemson University. His studies and blogging revolve around classroom technology integration and educational technology leadership.
About Allison Stribble
Allison is currently an Elementary Principal in Newberry County School District, former Assistant Principal, Curriculum Coordinator, and Middle School teacher. She is a South Carolina ASCD Emerging Leader and Principal of a Beacon Blue Ribbon School. Allison received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History Education from Newberry College, a Masters in Education Administration and her Educational Specialist degree in Curriculum Instruction from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. She is a passionate public educator who enjoys being a lifelong learner and sharing her knowledge and love of learning with others.