Can We Afford to Lose Another Teacher

A visit to the local market is always a top priority when arriving to a new city. This time the location is Venice, Italy. The non dual teacher and the toughest decision of the day is what food and wine to buy. The choices are countless. It is always best to ask for recommendations. After thanking our new acquaintance for her assistance, we decide to exchange contact information.

Guess what? She informs us that she is a teacher. What a coincidence. In the same breath she says, ” but I am trying to get out.”

A few things are certain

In 2007, the Center for Teacher Quality conducted a comprehensive study of teacher retention in California’s public schools. The report, Retaining California Teachers, revealed critical information.

  • Many teachers leave schools long before retirement because of inadequate system supports such as too little time for planning, too few textbooks, and unreliable assistance from the district office.
  • Teachers quit after only a few years of teaching.
  • Teachers willingly stay in because of strong collegial supports and because they have an important say in the operation of the school; they also seek strong input in what and how they are allowed to teach.

Some districts are not there (yet)

Districts understand what is needed to employ and keep good teachers. However, lack of resources, poor reputation, and an inability to attract quality applicants, force districts to examine teacher issues year after year. In addition, teacher certification programs fail to meet minimum requirements and consistency leading to states setting higher standards for preparation programs.

What comes first: the competent teacher or the competent structure? It has been found that top-performing systems are typically both restrictive and selective about who is able to train as a teacher, recruiting their teachers from the top third of each group leaving secondary school.

Sad but true, many districts are not in this position.

Don’t wait for change

Reform takes a long time. A school cannot wait. It must take an assertive leadership role when selecting and working with teachers.

Step 1: Commit to key beliefs.

Hire the best – Carefully consider who you hire. If you cannot find a quality teacher, hold out. Ask support staff to teach, work with good substitutes, advertise on your own. It will be difficult, but in the long run, it will be to your advantage.

Support the unique needs of teachers – Provide support in addition to what the district offers. Listen to the specific concerns raised by teachers. You may not like what you hear but it has been suggested that teacher absences are linked to lower student performance.

Promote an inclusive professional learning community – It is not enough to have committees. Active participation must be emphasized, encouraged, and required. Be conscious of teacher representation in different work groups.

Step 2: Dig deeper. Find solutions beyond what the district offers.

Revisit your evaluation plan – Not only the process and guidelines provided by the district, but what is implemented at the site. Be current on new trends and policies.

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