You’re probably familiar with the adage: “practice makes perfect.” Though perfection is a lofty goal, practice does make a person significantly more skilled than when they first attempt to do something.
Unsurprisingly, the same goes for teaching. Like you would expect to see in most professions, more experience often makes for more successful teachers. However, as rates of teacher turnover increase, experienced teachers are replaced with freshly-trained and often under-prepared teachers.
Although it’s great to bring new ideas and energy to a school, a balance between more tenured teachers and new recruits benefits everyone. Teacher retention is crucial for the survival of our schools and the success of our students, but how can we encourage teachers to stay in the profession?
Factors That Affect Teacher Retention
A 2020 study focused on the factors that increase teacher retention found that the work environment is consistently a top factor. “A growing research consensus suggests that positive working conditions are the most important factor in shaping teacher retention,” says Christopher Redding, Assistant Professor of Education Leadership at the University of Florida.
Teachers need to feel heard and supported by leadership and the district. They require their safety and mental and physical well-being to be a top priority. Teachers want to feel respected by students and their parents, as well as the leadership and school district they work within. They need to feel empowered in the workplace.
The National Education Association conducted a poll that gathered some alarming results: 55% of teachers are thinking of leaving the profession. This shows a rapid increase from just 37% in August of 2021. When teachers leave the profession after just a few years, they don’t get those years of experience that help them unlock the highest potential of their teaching ability. Quality teachers are necessary for students’ academic success. Schools must think about and begin to implement a teacher quality and retention program that considers the unique challenges of the contemporary classroom environment.
The Cost of Teacher Turnover
Teacher turnover costs school districts money. The Learning Policy Institute found that urban districts can spend more than $20,000 on each new hire, including school and district expenses related to separation, recruitment, hiring, and training. This is a reasonable investment to place a quality teacher into a classroom, but not if that teacher leaves after a few years and the investment needs to be made again. Schools need to implement a teacher quality and retention program that will encourage and support teachers to stay in their jobs long enough for the cost of hiring to be realized.
Although the financial cost of teacher turnover is considerable, the cost as it applies to the success of students is more significant. Strategic partnerships, successful advertising, and hiring bonuses may help attract teachers to the profession, but schools must focus on creating an environment that fosters a sense of safety, respect, and consideration for teachers and prioritizes these same elements for students. How does a school create this environment?
Qualities That Support a Positive Teaching Environment
1. Support from leadership
Teachers spend most of their time with students in the classroom. They observe how students respond to the curriculum, what encourages them to strive for higher achievements, and what their needs are for their education and their social and emotional health. A positive working environment provides space for teachers’ concerns and suggestions, and leadership consistently responds to them with action. By trusting in and supporting teachers’ decisions, school leadership and districts create an environment where teachers feel valued and empowered to make choices that affect their daily work the most.
2. An inclusive atmosphere
Many teachers struggle with feeling underappreciated by students, the students’ parents, and school leadership. Creating a workplace that celebrates teachers for the professionals they are and elevates their successes is essential to consider when implementing a teacher quality and retention program, and for the overall environment. By creating a space where everyone is understood, valued, and included, teachers can feel empowered to bring their authentic and best selves to their classrooms each day.
3. Safe working conditions
To create an environment for teachers to feel empowered in their job, security is necessary. A safe environment is crucial for any profession. This is especially important in today’s climate where teachers and other staff members are increasingly being threatened and sometimes physically harmed by students and/or parents. Applying modern solutions for safety and security as a part of a school’s teacher quality and retention program ensures that teachers and staff are equipped for today’s problems.
Creating a Safe Environment for Students and Teachers
Providing teachers with a wearable panic button like a CrisisAlert badge can be an attractor for hiring and teacher retention. With the increase of threats and violence in our schools, teachers are finding themselves in an increasingly stressful environment. A mobile panic alert system provides a layer of security and comfort to teachers so that they can focus on teaching knowing that if an incident does occur, they can quickly and discreetly call for help.
A CENTEGIX client shares how implementing the CrisisAlert badge in his school improved the culture: “Unsolicited, several teachers have mentioned that they are appreciative of the fact that our board of education and our school district cares enough about their welfare, their wellbeing, and that of their students that we’ve purchased this system to ensure that they do have access, if needed, for resources, whether it be school-based administrators or first responders, law enforcement, whatever might be necessary during the school day, at school activities, after-school hours. All those things play to how important, I think, teachers feel that safety and welfare are, and it’s really a critical recruitment and retention tool from my viewpoint…It became a topic of discussion from a lot of candidates, asking what does our school district do, how do we approach safety, and what tools and resources are available to them.”
There has been a 270% increase in the demand for the CrisisAlert badge since 2021, emphasizing a focus on school safety that employs modern tools. A wearable panic button is the fastest and easiest way for teachers to call for help in every situation, from the everyday to the extreme.
The CrisisAlert Difference
Experience teaches us that the unpredictable will occur. In an unplanned, urgent situation, humans are best at taking simple, straightforward action. Complex instructions can paralyze us in critical moments. Even with training, humans are the least reliable element in any incident response plan. We’re more likely to look at each other for reassurance than take a decisive step. At best, this all-too-human reaction costs precious seconds during an incident. At worst, it can lead to injury, and even cost lives. The CrisisAlert badge ensures that teachers and staff can get the assistance they need as quickly as possible with the following features.
1. One-button activation
This wearable badge can be activated in an instant, without a second thought by a teacher or staff member in a crisis. This is critical, as time is important in responding to a variety of incidents, such as altercations between students, unauthorized visitors, medical emergencies, and natural disasters.
2. Immediate notification
Unlike sending a student to the office for help or other traditional methods of calling for help, the alert immediately reaches administrators and responders, eliminating any delay in the school’s response to a crisis. In those who have installed CrisisAlert in their schools, there has been an immediate response in 99+% of cases.
3. Location accuracy across the entire facility
Almost half of the incidents reported by teachers and staff occur outside of the classroom. CrisisAlert’s location accuracy makes this a solution for facilities of all sizes. Administrators and responders waste no critical time in figuring out the location of the incident. Teachers can discreetly call for help without having to explain their location, which can be critical in certain incidents where the perpetrator might become more agitated when they see an attempt to sound an alarm.
4. Takeover notification
CrisisAlert notifications can’t be ignored. They can employ audio effects, such as intercom integration, with visual effects, like strobe lights and desktop screen takeovers. This ensures that everybody on the school campus receives the notification promptly and can act immediately according to the school’s crisis response protocols.
Why retaining quality teachers is critical
These relationships between students and teachers can shape future behaviors of students having profound effects on our society. Surveys conducted both by national organizations as well as CENTEGIX show that environment and culture is a leading factor that is causing teachers to leave the profession at a concerning rate. High levels of teacher turnover cost the school district money and negatively affect the students. School districts and leadership should ask themselves this question: is the work environment supportive, inclusive, and safe for teachers and staff? Providing teachers and staff with the added layer of security from the CrisisAlert badge integrates modern technology to expedite response in a crisis. This is a critical first step to creating an environment where teachers and students can learn and thrive.
CENTEGIX is the leader in incident response solutions. Our CrisisAlert platform is the fastest and easiest way for staff to call for help in an emergency, from the everyday to the extreme. CENTEGIX creates safer spaces by innovating technology to empower and protect people, and leaders nationwide trust our safety solutions to provide peace of mind. To learn more about how CENTEGIX can help you support your teachers and staff, visit www.centegix.com.