Teachers’ skill sets, experiences, and interests accumulate and shift throughout their careers. Teachers’ energy for taking on new challenges may change over time, and professional development and training deepen their capabilities. Depending on a school’s staffing needs, it may be seeking to recruit younger teachers with fresh perspectives, experienced instructors with specialized knowledge, or teachers whose skills extend beyond the classroom. A school’s needs will determine which teachers are a perfect fit, but many more factors determine whether these teachers commit to schools for the long term. To recruit and retain great teachers, schools must offer long-term incentives that grant newly hired teachers a sense of safety and belonging. If they are successful in doing so, these schools and their students will reap the many benefits associated with long-term teacher retention.
Emphasize Long-Term Success for Teacher Retention
Teachers new to the profession are often enthusiastic and ready to dive into classroom life. When being interviewed for their first or second job, these new teachers are often eager for experience and ready to start accumulating it. Their fresh energy and perspective clearly benefit schools and students. But experienced teachers are typically more effective than newer teachers at facilitating student learning. And retaining qualified teachers year after year minimizes administrators’ management obligations and saves districts the cost of recruiting new teachers. Particularly important is the retention of teachers with specialized bodies of knowledge, including AP Math and Science, foreign languages, special education, and other areas.
School districts, therefore, are wise to stress the importance of the long-term professional path they make available to new teachers. Tenured teachers are often focused on supporting their families with their salaries and benefits, and may also be thinking about retirement. Many districts, therefore, offer retirement plans, financial planning services, and other investment advice that ensures their teachers can make sound financial decisions throughout their careers.
How to Retain Top Teaching Talent
Schools that want to be successful in recruiting and retaining top talent must not only compensate their teachers adequately but also create an environment rich in tradition that grants autonomy to teachers and gives them ample opportunities to learn and professionalize. Schools with a strong sense of tradition often retain teachers for many years; these teachers develop a sense of solidarity with their students and colleagues and identify as members of a community. This richness of tradition can take many forms, from annual special events to mentorship relationships among teachers. New teachers seek school communities that support their staff and community members with meaningful activities and relationships. Schools that have a strong structure in place to support teachers are likely to enjoy high rates of teacher retention. Their teachers, in turn, create classroom cultures that support students.
Other factors that contribute to teacher retention include facilitating mentoring relationships, professional development, and leadership opportunities. First and second-year teachers are often difficult to retain because they may be offered more competitive benefits and salaries at other schools. But ensuring that teachers have autonomy and opportunities for professional growth can encourage them to stay. School leaders must commit to their teachers’ success by giving them the tools they need to succeed in their classrooms. Beyond the support required for the daily work of teaching, teachers also need access to effective professional development with a meaningful impact on their work. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “By failing to provide teachers with broad access to effective training and professional development, as well as to learning communities where their professional judgment is considered, we hurt teachers’ effectiveness, sense of purpose, and career advancement opportunities.” Schools that provide this type of professional development are more likely to see high rates of teacher retention. At the level of policy, state and district leaders can employ focused strategies that improve retention rates among special education teachers and others with specialized skill sets.
Teacher Autonomy and Safety are Interconnected
A teacher’s sense of safety is crucial in ensuring their effectiveness. According to Former Superintendent Jay Floyd, a teacher should be granted the authority and support to be the “CEO of their classroom.”
“When teachers look at us, as a school district,” says Floyd, “it’s part of my responsibility to make sure I’ve got the things in place, the tools that they need to be able to teach in the classroom, and one of those is safety.” Teachers who feel safe and supported by administrators can focus their efforts on effective teaching as well as the professional development and leadership opportunities that make their careers more gratifying. This, in turn, makes them less likely to seek employment elsewhere.
According to a study that examined the findings of the New York City Department of Education School Survey, “the degree to which students and teachers feel their school is a safe, orderly learning environment is of central importance for student achievement.” Students learn more in safe schools. Even as early as 2003, concerns over safety and discipline were two of the major reasons teachers left their jobs; these concerns have only intensified in recent years. Ensuring teacher safety, then, is a vital contributor to teacher retention.
CENTEGIX CrisisAlert Solution Makes Teachers Feel Safe
The CENTEGIX CrisisAlert System includes a discreet, wearable badge that allows teachers to summon help immediately. In all types of situations, from medical emergencies to disciplinary incidents to the approach of an unauthorized visitor, the CENTEGIX CrisisAlert badge alerts administrators and first responders to a teacher’s location and need for assistance. The sense of security this solution provides to teachers contributes to their effectiveness and to their feelings of being supported by their administration.
According to Thomas Trawick, Retired Police Chief of Safety and Security for the fifth largest school district in the state of Georgia, district staff were most concerned about medical emergencies, fights, and other everyday occurrences. Using their CrisisAlert badges, they could summon qualified support staff for assistance. In the event of major emergencies, too, teachers became able to immediately notify Trawick or a School Resource Officer. Many other school districts now provide their teachers with the sense of safety that accompanies the CENTEGIX CrisisAlert System.
Teachers appreciate the role their CENTEGIX CrisisAlert badge can play in helping them regain control of their classrooms in tense situations. Administrators’ immediate response further contributes to teachers’ sense of security. When administrators show their solidarity with the teachers who manage every kind of incident throughout every school day, they create a culture of safety. This is the kind of school culture in which teachers hope to work, and it empowers teachers to invest in the activities that keep them energized and challenged. A strong culture of safety and administrative support facilitates teacher effectiveness and positively influences teacher retention.
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.