A key factor steering the economic growth of any country is a knowledge-driven workforce and the significance of the teaching profession towards the same cannot be underrated. Teachers play a vital role in building a strong human capital base and shaping the future of a country. However, while there is the need to recruit and retain quality teachers, there is a growing concern across the globe with regard to the attrition rate.
Research put forth by the U.S. Department of Education suggests that 17 per cent of new teachers leave the classroom within 5 years. This has led to a decline in instruction quality, making it necessary to adopt strategies that improve teacher recruitment and retention.
In view of the mounting concern, one wonders if it is the lack of support, school culture or excess workload that makes teachers reconsider their field soon after commencing. Or is it a combination of factors that impact the effectiveness and satisfaction level of a teacher?
Retention Strategies to Help Teachers Thrive
Teacher attrition has a crucial impact on the quality of learning imparted and has emerged as a major crisis in the education sector. The challenge of recruitment and retention are inter-linked with the same factors pushing teachers out of the profession and also making it difficult to bring prospective candidates into the field.
There is a need for efficient leadership and a thorough evaluation to make the profession sustainable and rewarding. In this context, the leadership style of the principal has been viewed as an essential factor that impacts the morale, productivity, job satisfaction and hence the rate of attrition.
The role played by the school principal and the manner in which teachers perceive their leader is a reason why they may decide to make a move. The effectiveness of the leadership in developing instructional design strategies and adopting an approach that enables teachers to confidently brace the profession is vital.
While it is often cited that low pay is also a contributing factor, it is something that most teachers entering the profession are prepared for. However, the authoritative culture and lack of autonomy are elements that they are least prepared to face. School leaders have a major influence over the prevailing culture and equipping leaders with better management skills can contribute to resolving the problem.
Apart from this, school leaders also need to emphasize on the professional development of teachers to make them feel more prepared. Promoting a culture of well-being, encouraging opportunities for peer collaboration, openness and respect will help improve teaching quality and in making teachers feel better equipped. School leadership has a critical role to play to set up a strong professional environment where teachers function as a confident and collective team.
By paving the way to collaborate with colleagues, leaders can make teachers feel motivated. This will help teachers of all stages to flourish and grow.
Establishing a Supportive School Culture
The high workload is often seen as the principal factor driving low retention. Moreover, the regulated nature of the profession often curtails the opportunities of teachers and makes it difficult for them to establish a professional persona that initially drew them towards the profession.
The role of school leadership is vital here as it has been often noted that while new teachers showed a high level of commitment, their efficacy was influenced by support from senior members and colleagues. Supportive school culture is necessary for the ongoing professional development of a new teacher and in enabling them to identify their learning needs.
Building a Successful Learning Environment
Teachers are an indispensable part of the knowledge sphere and students need efficient teachers to meet their educational goals. Teacher attrition impedes student learning and results in poor academic performance. The fact of leadership style, school culture and working conditions are reasons why teachers leave their job indicates that building an enriching and supportive environment for both teachers and students can help address the problem. Equipping teachers will coping skills to flourish in the school setting will help them build a fulfilling career.
The education sector needs to focus on factors that make teaching enjoyable to ensure that there are enough motivated and skilled teachers.
There are solutions that need to be genuinely explored to build a coherent plan for teacher retention. School leaders who foster a collaborative environment, nurture respectful behaviour and create a productive work atmosphere could provide the pathway to resolve the retention crisis.