Prioritizing Teacher Voice to Recruit and Retain High-Quality Teachers
The staffing crisis in K-12 education continues to zap time, energy, and resources for districts that are already stretched thin, exhausted, and steadfast in their commitment to ensuring students receive high-quality learning experiences. And while we know that it is important to find innovative solutions to address the complexities of teacher recruitment and retention, we also know that some of the potential answers already exist and are closer than we think.
We know that prioritizing student voice in the classroom ensures students feel valued and heard, impacts the way teachers design the learning experience, and develops agency, collaboration + ownership in the process.
The Spectrum of Student Voice from KnowledgeWorks’ Student at the Center Hub, breaks down the broadness of “student voice” into a range of activities that increase the amount of influence and ownership by students from left to right.
SOURCE: Toshalis, Eric & Michael Nakkula. 2012. Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice: The Students at the Center Series. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future. http://www.studentsatthecenterhub.org/resource/motivation-engagement-and-student-voice
As your team is rethinking the ways you are recruiting and retaining teachers, how might prioritizing teacher voice along this same spectrum help?
Expression + Consultation
When considering your district's employee value proposition (EVP), or what your organization can offer employees for the value they bring to the district, it is important to create space for teachers to express their feelings about the current process + practices and consult them through focus groups and surveys in order to inform what to keep or tweak within the process. Asking for their input would confirm what your team values + expose areas you might not have considered.
Participation + Partnership
Utilizing teachers as participants and partners in the process might include having an internal hiring committee help design the applicant recruitment process. When thinking about sharing out your EVP, teacher leaders can be a powerful voice in ensuring that message is delivered by individuals who experience the values of your organization firsthand. This might mean having these individuals filming a “day in the life” to highlight what it looks like to be a part of your team.
One practice we do at Education Elements during our final interviews is to schedule 15-minute informal conversations with different team members to create a space for candidates to ask anything and everything related to the role they are applying for. Our intention is to model our core value of investing in each other right from the start.
Activism + Leadership
This requires more formal involvement in the recruitment and retention strategy, whether that means acting as ambassadors or being on the hiring team. As activists and leaders, teachers drive the conversation around ways to strengthen the district’s EVP and contribute to specific solutions when addressing gaps in the current process or recruitment efforts in order to ensure your district is building awareness, developing a pipeline of highly qualified candidates, and ultimately retaining a team of teachers that embody the values your district lives by.
Too often in education, from the central office to the classroom, we work through challenges in silos. Whether you are putting all your time and energy into opportunities for teachers to express their perspectives or step into more formal leadership roles, it is important to consider ways to scale these practices across your district and bring teams together to think through the challenges you are facing together. We believe the impact will not only support the way your district recruits incredible teachers, but also the way you develop, empower, and retain your current talent.