Building a well-thought-out recruitment strategy is an essential part of every school year. No matter how good a teacher’s situation, there’s always a chance they might move on to other jobs for new challenges and a change of scenery. That being said, there’s a lot that schools can do to help ease pressure on recruitment through effective retention of teaching talent.
High teacher retention rates are a big plus for parents inquiring into new schools for their kids. When parents can be confident that their incoming freshman has a good chance of having the same math or chemistry teacher for all four years of high school, they will naturally be more attracted to that school.
So, what strategies can be employed to better retain talented educators?
First, a generous contract and benefits package
We’re not saying that teachers are really “in it for the money,” but a good salary and benefits package as part of a fair contract is a great starting point. A good strategy is to start teachers at an acceptable salary given your budget, market considerations, and any applicable state pay scale, and then offer lots of room for salary and benefits to grow. The potential to grow their careers both professionally and financially will incentivize teachers to remain.
Few will be willing to move to another school if it means taking a cut in pay, which is often what they may face, depending on the exact position they apply for.
Second, a robust support network for teachers goes a long way
Teachers will need support in their jobs, especially in their early years working in your school. This might take the form of teaching assistants to help in the classroom, but it should also go beyond that. If you provide teachers with clear channels and procedures to settle grievances and disputes, then you can maintain harmony and reduce resentment.
A lack of support from the leadership and other structures in the school can become a major reason for a good teacher deciding to move on. Support, support, support.
Third, you should provide opportunities for growth and advancement
While a good salary and benefits package can improve retention, some teachers will take pay cuts and title demotions to move to a position that offers room for advancement. Individual teachers have different career goals, and the better you are at facilitating those goals, the more likely you are to retain your best people.
There are school leaders who believe that if they invest in professional development for their teachers, they will simply expedite that teacher’s exit from the school. This is wrong-headed. This may happen if you require training without a legitimate opportunity for advancement, but if you couple promotion prospects with a policy of favoring internal candidates for management positions, you’ll suddenly find a lot of those teachers staying put.
Fourth, involve teachers in running the school and use their input
A final strategy involves empowering and inspiring your teachers. By allowing them to voice their feedback, offer suggestions, and have direct input and influence on school decision-making, you encourage teachers to stay so they can be part of the school’s development.
When you feel like just a cog in the machine, you are far less likely to stay in that position. Empowering teachers is a way to show them that you value their perspective. They will almost certainly reciprocate with greater loyalty to the school.