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How to Attract and Retain Effective Teachers

How to Attract and Retain Effective Teachers

How to Attract and Retain Effective Teachers

Introduction

A significant number of teachers leave their current job or shift into a different school altogether every school year. As such, one of the primary issues facing schools today is teacher turnover, which is classified as one of the most disruptive issues undermining the effectiveness of education policies and school improvements. This paper seeks to analyze the primary data gathered from 15 interviewees to establish how to attract and retain effective teachers. The research will provide a succinct overview of the findings based on the coding exercise. The first section presents the context for the data collection while the second one explores the study problem in detail using research questions. The subsequent sections present the study findings and explain how they relate to the current data.

Context

The issue under investigation involves attracting and retaining effective teachers to mitigate the problem of teacher turnover. Some of the main implications of the issue include learning disruptions, negative impacts on the school environment, and staffing issues (Aragon, 2016). Moreover, the current statistics suggest that at least 16 percent of public school teachers change or leave their schools annually, which is over half a million teachers in the United States (Redding, 2018). Consequently, teacher turnover is a problem that can significantly set back students’ learning experiences.

Issue

Three research questions have been suggested to help develop an in-depth understanding of the issue in regards to the data gathered from the interviews. The research questions focus on providing solutions to the issue under study, which seeks to establish how to attract and retain effective teachers.

Firstly, how do a teacher’s level of education, current assignment, and experience in the education sector contribute to his or her decision to continue working as a teacher?

Secondly, how does the relationship between teacher satisfaction and teacher retention affect people’s decision to remain within their current organization?

Thirdly, do school districts have the resources and knowledge necessary to retain qualified educational staff and promote low teacher turnover?

Fourthly, what are some of the most effective steps that should be taken by schools to mitigate the problem of low turnover?

Findings

This section provides a report about the results generated from the coding exercise. Thematic analysis has been employed because unlike other methods of data analysis, it emphasizes on examining and locating the emergent patterns and themes within the data gathered. The researcher leveraged closed-ended questions that were answered by selecting one of the multiple answers provided and open-ended questions that required the respondents to provide more insights when responding. All the participants signed consent forms and voluntarily agreed to participate in the research study. The researcher began by familiarizing himself with the data gathered by paying special attention to patterns that emerge.

The second step involved generating the initial codes by recording where and how the patterns occurred. Appendix A shows the codes generated through data reduction in which the researcher collapsed the data gathered and categorized it into different sections to allow further analysis. For example, based on the categorized identified from the codes generated, a quantitative analysis can be conducted showing the number of years (Fig. 1) a participant has been in education as well as their highest level (Fig. 2) of education. Figure 1 shows that all the participants have a bachelor’s degree but only 11 and 3 have a master’s and doctorate degree respectively. Figure 2 suggests that 40 percent of the participants have worked in the education sector for an average of 11 to 16 years.

Figure 1. Shows the quantitative analysis conducted about the participants’ highest level of education

Figure 2. Shows the quantitative analysis conducted about the number of years the participants have been in education

The codes generated suggest that all the teachers have a minimum qualification of a university degree. The current assignment for most of the participants involved working as a teacher. However, some participants held positions of authority such as an instructional coordinator, librarian director, district manager, and executive director of curriculum and instruction. The coded transcripts suggest that most of the teachers had over ten years of working experience in the education sector, especially in a public school. The codes generated in regards to the primary factors that contribute to attracting and keeping qualified instructional staff in an educational organization suggests that most of the participants (15) believe competitive pay, (11) high teacher and staff support, and (13) positive climate and culture play a central role in attracting and retaining effective teachers. A significant number of the participants cited (7) low student to teacher ratio, (6) collaboration and collective genius, (7) job security, and (7) high staff morale but only two said performance pay was essential in keeping qualified instructional staff in an educational organization.

The codes generated in regards to the relationship between teacher satisfaction and teacher retention suggests that most respondents believe that when teachers feel valued and appreciated, their work becomes meaningful and impactful. Moreover, proper compensation within a great culture and climate provides the opportunity necessary to advance one’s overall professional development. When the participants were asked whether they planned on staying within their current organization, most of them said yes because of their family and job satisfaction but a significant portion said no citing a lack of job security and support, lack of career progression, and a bad work environment. The data gathered regarding what school districts should do to retain qualified educational staff and promote low teacher turnover reveal that most teachers would stay if they feel valued and appreciated and the work they do is meaningful and impactful.

Good compensation and a great culture and work environment were cited as key reasons that would justify one to stay in their current organization. Consequently, the primary action steps that organizations can implement to ensure low turnover involves increasing compensation, offering training, encouraging career growth, trusting employees, and building a great organizational culture. Finally, the primary factors that can aid one in growing and remaining in a given organization involve a competitive salary, opportunities for training and growth, as well as reasonable health benefits. The findings from the data collected and analyzed connect to Simon’s and Johnson’s (2015) work on Teacher turnover in high-poverty schools, which also identifies increasing compensation, offering training, encouraging career growth, trusting employees, and building a great organizational culture as some of the important steps that organizations within the education sector can implement to mitigate the problem of low turnover involves.

Conclusion

The analysis conducted shows that a teacher’s level of education, current assignment, and experience in the education sector have a significant contribution to his or her decision to continue working as a teacher. For example, those who have a lower level of education, little experience, and low job satisfaction are more likely to change jobs and even leave the educational sector. The analysis also shows that school districts have the resources and knowledge necessary to retain qualified educational staff and promote low teacher turnover because they can easily make them feel valued and appreciated, as well as ensure their work is meaningful and impactful. Inversing compensation and offering a great culture and climate are some of the approaches that school districts can implement to mitigate high teacher turnover. 

References

Aragon, S. (2016). Teacher Shortages: What We Know. Teacher Shortage Series. Education Commission of the States. Retrieved from https://www.ecs.org/wp-content/uploads/Teacher-Shortages-What-We-Know.pdf

Redding, C. (2018). Teacher turnover is a problem – here’s how to fix it. theconversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/teacher-turnover-is-a-problem-heres-how-to-fix-it-101584

Simon, N. S., & Johnson, S. M. (2015). Teacher turnover in high-poverty schools: What we know and can do. Teachers College Record117(3), 1-36.

Appendix

Appendix A: transcribed interviews with the coding

 QuestionCodes
1What is your highest level of education?11 Master’s Degree 1  Bachelor’s Degree, 3  Doctorate Degree
2What is your current assignment?Instructional Coordinator 10 Teacher (3 Juniors) Librarian Director AP Administrator/Teacher Reading Interventionist District Manager Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction
3How many years have you been in education?5-10 (3) 11-16 (6) 17-22 (3) 23-28 (3)
4Describe the educational organization in which you work in.Desoto ISD as an Instructional Coordinator 2 Elementary Specials Teacher 9th-grade centre School District 5 Public School recognized STEM middle school Junior High School
5What factor(s) contribute to attracting and keeping qualified instructional staff in an educational organization? (Check all that apply)15 competitive pay 7 low student to teacher ratio 11 high teacher and staff support 13 positive climate and culture 6 collaboration and collective genius 7 job security 7 high staff morale 2 performance pay  
6What is the relationship between teacher satisfaction and teacher retention?Valued and appreciated, work is meaningful and impactful, compensated well, great culture and climate, the opportunity for professional development, highly related, job satisfaction  
7Do you plan on staying within your current organization? Why or why not?Yes, Family; Yes, love work; No, lack of job security and support; No, lack of career progression; unsure;  No, bad work environment; Yes, job satisfaction;   
8How can school districts retain qualified educational staff and promote low teacher turnover?value and appreciate, meaningful and impactful work, good compensation, great culture, and climate
9What action steps can an organization implement to ensure low turnover?Increase compensation, offer training, encourage growth, trust employees, great culture and climate
10What are some factors that aid you in growing and remain in a given organization? Why?  Competitive salary, opportunities for training and growth, reasonable health benefits, praise and reassurance of what I am doing, showing value in my work and worth, inspecting what you expect, consistency, compassion for students and teachers, valuing my input, positive culture and climate, being humble and cutting high paying salaries up top to be sure that the staff who are closest to the students are taken care of first  

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