Schools are just like businesses in one regard: sometimes it’s hard to keep good employees. The statistics are staggering: it is estimated that schools experience an average loss of 16% of their teachers in a given year. Many teachers change schools, some give up teaching altogether, but either way, it’s still employee turnover.
Why is this Bad?
Teacher turnover is hard in school. It is disruptive. Every time an experienced teacher is replaced by a new teacher the students lose valuable instructional time. A teacher who has been at the same school for years knows the school culture, knows where to find anything he needs, and knows who to talk to to get things done.
A new teacher coming in from another school is used to doing things in a particular way. That way maybe the opposite of their new school situation. The teacher can’t spend as much time prepping for her classes when she is spending her time learning which teachers will help her and which teachers will snub her. This isn’t the best situation for the students.
Employee turnover in schools also clearly results in hiring many more brand-new teachers, fresh out of school. Although the idealism they bring to the classroom is often a breath of fresh air for a school, it’s also true that they still have a lot to learn. They’ve had student teaching experience, but there is nothing like owning your own classroom.
High teacher turn-over also can result in crowded classrooms. If a school has a reputation for being a toxic environment for teachers, it will be hard to find teachers to staff that school. Therefore, each teacher will have to take on larger classes to make sure each student has a classroom. Crowded classrooms mean less time for each student and less learning.
What Can be Done?
There are several ways to reduce employee turnover. Some school districts have tried many innovative ways to keep their teachers. Sometimes a school district will provide incentive pay to get teachers to stay in a difficult school. In this way, they show that they recognizing that these teachers may have to do many additional tasks besides teaching and that their contributions are appreciated.
An important consideration is to consider the school culture. If a teacher works at a school that shows they are committed to teacher development, a teacher will feel more valued and more likely to remain at that school.
When school districts value teacher feedback, a teacher is more likely to stay. When a teacher has a problem and no one seems to care about it, and it never gets fixed, the teacher will be more likely to look for a different district to work in.
Probably the most important way to reduce employee turnover in schools is to invest in technology. Teachers talk to each other – they know what resources are available to help them teach and to help their students learn. Teachers who are provided with the tools they need are much more likely to stick around.