5 Reasons Why Investing in School Leaders will Retain Teachers
Teacher turnover is an issue that has impacted school districts all across the country. Teachers are leaving the profession in record numbers while not enough are entering it. Therefore school districts are scrambling to fill vacancies with qualified educators. Teacher retention is a complicated issue. It is a challenge that has many facets, none of which seem to have simple solutions. It is in times like these that we turn to our leaders for guidance. Fortunately great leadership has proven to be a key lever in retaining our nation’s teachers.
In fact, poor leadership is a leading reason that teachers leave the classroom. Departing teachers reference lack of preparation, lack of support and challenging working conditions as top reasons for their exodus. All of those factors may be improved if we invest in the leadership that is responsible for them. Here are five reasons why investing in school leaders will retain teachers.
1. Consistency generates momentum
Doing things slowly rarely grabs people’s attention. Success does. In pursuit of success and promising returns leaders often look for quick fixes and inspirational ideas. These ideas come in the form of new technologies, initiatives, ways of working, and expectations. Overtime, some of these moves may prove fruitful while many will not. Regardless of a leader’s success rate, rapidly introducing new ideas comes at a cost. Teachers suffer from initiative fatigue. This whiplash throws teachers off kilter and leaves teachers feeling overwhelmed and ineffective. That is why it is important that we remember that slow is steady and steady is fast. Investing in school leaders builds their experience, broadens their vision, and keeps them in their position.
Try This: Help school leaders focus on 3 key goals per year.
2. Monitor what goes on a teacher’s plate
Parents are constantly monitoring what goes on their child’s plate. They do so to make sure that their child is eating enough, but not too much, and that they are receiving a balanced diet full of healthy nutrients. School leaders must do that for their teachers. They must monitor each teacher’s role and responsibilities. They must create space for teachers to communicate what they need. Most importantly they must look at each teacher’s plate for a healthy balance that prioritizes their health, happiness and growth as an educator.
Try This: Help school leaders complete regular pulse check surveys.
Interested: Ask us our teacher pulse check surveys
3. Share the power
Leaders, especially new ones, experience pressure from every direction. As leaders acclimate to their new positions they are not yet sure who to trust and therefore try to do all of the work themselves. By consolidating power at the top it is easier to make quick decisions. However we must remember that quick and easy is not always best. There is incredible power in giving it away. As leaders gain experience they will feel more comfortable soliciting help from others. This process of giving power away engages more people in the decision making process. More voices lead to solutions that have more weight, buy-in and impact. It is the role of the leader to create a vision and let others find the way themselves.
Try This: Help new leaders by identifying key contributors in their building.
4. Leaders are coaches and leaders need coaches
Establishing a clear and consistent vision is one of the most important first actions a leader can take. Coaching others to drive forward that vision is the second. The main function of a leader is to amplify the impact of those around them. The skill of coaching is one that needs to be developed. Professionals must experience growth in order to feel fulfilled in the workplace. Effective coaching communicates a school’s investment in their teachers. Likewise, leaders need to be coached as well.
Try this: Help leaders by creating space for them to interact, empathize and design with other leaders across the district.
Learn more: 2 for 1 special: Eric Makelky in Wyoming also talks about how having a coach helps him as a principal
5. Building a Strong Culture
Every school leader wants to build a strong culture. But what does a strong culture look like? That is a difficult question to answer, but we all know when we see it, when we feel it.
Let’s do a quick audit of your culture. Pedro Noguera says it is about how people are treated every day. So ask yourself a few questions about how people are treated each day.
How are students and teachers treated when they:
- Make good choices?
- Make bad choices?
- Appear invisible?
- Are absent consistently?
- Are late?
- Are on time?
It’s helpful to use dichotomous statements as I have above to help you identify. We’ve included a whole host of other questions you can ask in the comments section, so be sure to check out the first comment.
Your culture is like the fruit from a tree. All that went into growing that fruit is what makes up the culture. Thankfully, you can choose to plant a new fruit tree any day. Today looks like a great day to plant a new tree.
Try this: With your leadership team, ask these questions and be honest about the responses.