Teacher turnover can be a big problem, particularly at preschools. You might have a teacher for a year or two, and then they leave to pursue another opportunity. How can directors learn and structure teacher programs to boost retention? These seven smart ideas are a good place to start.
The exit interview: To improve outcomes, delve into failures. In the corporate world, when you leave a job, HR often gives you an exit interview to get insight into the positives and negatives of your experiences working there. This approach is also beneficial for teachers leaving. Ask what could have been done to keep them there. Use this insight to make revisions as necessary.
Ask teachers directly: Teachers are your best resource for insight, and those who just started last year are sure to provide helpful information on teacher training and support that underscores retention. Ask last year's new teachers who have decided to stay what was helpful and what wasn't. Then ask them what they wish they had. Revise retention strategies accordingly.
Formal onboarding: New teachers want to feel supported, so consider creating an onboarding plan for all new staff. This allows them time to prepare and ask questions. Build social time into the onboarding program so new teachers can meet with existing staff to build camaraderie. You might even consider developing an official mentor program.
Monthly meetings: At least once a month directors should meet with teachers one on one to get feedback. This is a great opportunity to talk about successes and challenges, both with new and tenured teachers. Remember to be a good listener, as you want teachers to be comfortable in sharing their thoughts and feedback freely.
Provide career maps: Ambitious teachers want to know they have opportunities to become leaders and expand their professional skill set. When possible, provide internal opportunities for teachers to grow and climb the ladder. This could be leading an advisory committee, volunteering to assist in a policy project or working on a special project that's related to their area of expertise.
Encourage external professional development: Local unions, communities and school districts may provide opportunities for staff to expand their education and enhance their skills. Support teachers by communicating and encouraging participation in these events. If possible, try to reimburse costs of attending conferences or other educational opportunities if they are not free.
Recognize the need for balance: Teaching is a demanding job. Many teachers leave positions — and even the profession altogether — because they are overwhelmed, overworked, undersupported and underfunded. You may not be able to control all aspects of a teacher's experience, but you can promote work-life balance. Offer a helping hand when needed and have empathy toward your hard-working teachers.
Teacher turnover can be a big problem, particularly at preschools. You might have a teacher for a year or two, and then they leave to pursue another opportunity. How can directors learn and structure teacher programs to boost retention?