We’ve reached an inflection point regarding teacher retention, and education leaders must strategize on how to keep their best educators before it’s too late. Consider these 2022 statistics:
- 80% of teachers indicate that burnout is a serious problem.1
- 55% of educators now indicate that they are ready to leave the profession earlier than planned.2
- 76% of educators feel student behavioral issues are a serious problem.3
- 84% of educators support hiring more counselors and school psychologists.4
- 94% of educators want more student health and behavioral support.5
- Only 10% of educators would strongly recommend the profession to a young adult.6
- Only 30% of teachers are satisfied with their current position.7
There is some hope, however. According to a U.S. News & World Report article, teachers who feel supported by their school administration and that they have a voice that is being heard are willing to stay in their positions.
If districts and administrations are willing to satisfy some of the conditions mentioned above, the teacher retention crisis can be mitigated. Here are three keys to teacher retention that can help ensure a successful back-to-school season in the fall:
1. Building Competency to Manage Today’s Classroom
This requires a two-pronged approach, one that focuses on how to be a better educator and another that builds students’ readiness to learn. These approaches can be addressed with high-quality professional development as well as high-impact coaching for specific, relevant topics within the classroom.
As far as building competency to be a better educator, this involves:
- Positive interaction with all students. This includes those who pose behavioral challenges and who work below grade-level. All students must be treated equally and with respect. Training in equitable services can assist in this endeavor.
- A safe learning environment that sets high expectations for behavior as well as academic performance. Rules need to be fairly and consistently enforced, and students should feel comfortable about speaking up about bullying or other behavioral issues.
- Effective communication and collaboration are critical in managing a classroom. Teachers must be able to communicate with families and administrators as well as students. Additionally, educators need to collaborate with one another as well as with coaches or instructors to grow their individual skill sets.
- In-class instruction and assessment, which includes design and execution of lesson plans and instructional materials, instructional strategies and approaches that enable effective teaching of curriculum, and the ability to administer effective assessments to monitor student performance.
To build students’ readiness to learn, teachers should:
- Learn each student’s needs through both formal and informal assessments that can help personalize instruction. Learning student needs goes beyond instruction, however. By making the effort to know about their interests and learning their personalities, teachers can help make sure that students are focused on their education.
- Assess student readiness at the beginning of the school year so you know where knowledge gaps lie and can plan how to address them.
- Instill confidence in students from the get-go and make them aware that you believe they can all succeed in your class, with no one left behind.
- Remediate while instructing. By remediating basic skills while simultaneously teaching new concepts, students at every skill level are brought along at the same pace.
2. Building Teacher Confidence
High-quality professional development remains the best way to build teacher confidence in the classroom…and one of the best ways to retain teachers. Why? Because by investing in the development of educators, districts show teachers they’re valued and worth the investment.
Teachers want to learn and apply that knowledge to the classroom. Catapult Learning surveyed teachers nationwide at the end of the 2021-22 school year* on a variety of topics. When it came to professional development, teachers had this to say:
- 91% of those surveyed said Catapult Learning’s coaching program had a positive impact on their teaching practices.
- 94% of school leaders surveyed said that the coaching their teachers received had a positive impact on student outcomes.
- 93% of teachers surveyed felt their coach was an experienced educator who supported and encouraged their professional development.
It’s clear that teachers appreciate professional development, take pride in growing their skills, and work hard at implementing those skills in the classroom in order to achieve positive outcomes. Professional development is a win-win for districts—it helps teachers become better at their jobs, it builds their confidence in the classroom, it helps students succeed within and outside the classroom, and it makes teachers feel wanted.
3. Supporting Relevant Skills
Two of the biggest issues teachers face today are learning loss (primarily from COVID, but also on a repeating basis after summer) and behavioral challenges. We all know the devastating effects the pandemic inflicted upon students, both academically and mentally. Schools are still grappling with learning loss three years later, and it may be another few years before students are able to finally catch up.
This is why student gains are so important. And the best way for students to make gains is through effective instruction. Unfortunately, no teachers had any experience working through a global pandemic, so naturally some gaps began to surface. To address these achievement gaps, teachers had to embrace solutions such as high-dosage tutoring, summer learning, and high-impact coaching—all of which, when implemented and operated effectively, have shown to reduce learning loss and narrow achievement gaps.
Layered on top of the learning loss was an increased rate of behavioral problems in schools, which contributed to teachers leaving the profession en masse. Some of this was a product of the COVID aftermath, but quite a bit of this can be attributed to the fact that 64.8% of students with disabilities spend more than 80% of time in general education.8 When you combine that number with the fact that only 17% of general education teachers feel “very well prepared” to teach children with mild to moderate disabilities,9 it’s no surprise that only 6 out of 10 families feel their teachers are equipped to handle the social, emotional, and behavioral challenges facing students today.10
Behavior challenges directly lead to:
- More classroom disruptions
- Less growth in student outcomes
- Dramatically slower learning paces
- Risks of more referrals for special education
In turn, these challenges increase demands on educators to:
- Meet the different needs of all students
- Address the rising behavioral issues
- Provide the right special education student supports
- Support the whole child
A solution? Professional learning focused on equitable services. For example, Catapult Learning’s Equitable Services Professional Development Pathway combines engaging workshop content with job-embedded coaching to ensure all students are given the opportunity to succeed in a positive, inclusive learning environment and that leaders and teachers improve outcomes for diverse learners.
*Based on 2021-2022 EOY National Catapult Learning Survey Results
8 National Center for Education Statistics, 2019
9 National Center for Learning Disabilities and Understood, 2019
10 Catapult Learning Survey: A Peek into the Academic, Emotional, and Behavioral Health of Our Students, August 2022