Why is Teacher Turnover So High?

Why is Teacher Turnover So High?
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No matter which age group you look at, teacher turnover is a distinct issue – particularly for schools and colleges based in urban districts.
Low teacher retention rates cause serious problems for both the students they were teaching, and the education establishments themselves.

How teacher turnover impacts education

Staff turnover costs school districts across the States up to $2.2 billion a year. While the turnover helps to keep salaries low for the school, the constant churn of staff comes at a huge cost.

But this is not the only problem. The turnover rate means that there are very few teachers with the experience needed to manage children of all ages. Now, a quarter of teachers have less than 5 years’ experience in the field, with only half of the workforce working longer than a decade.

This means that as the pressure for schools and colleges to achieve higher grades increases, the workforce does not necessarily have the experience to keep up. This not only leads schools to lose funding, but also reduces opportunities for students.

But why is turnover so high, and what can be done to improve rates?

Increasing teacher retention

Understanding how to increase teacher retention is integral in providing a consistent and strong education system for future generations.

There is currently a distinct shortage in teachers. The number of students enrolling in teaching degrees has decreased by 35% in the past 5 years, with the pandemic leaving plenty of uncertainty for what the role will entail in the years to come.

By improving teaching courses, retention could be increased. Teachers are very rarely prepared to navigate a classroom of diverse students, all with their own backgrounds and capabilities.

By coaching teachers with a ‘social curriculum’, they will be better equipped to identify high-risk students, those falling behind or those that need more challenge – all while providing a safe and equal learning environment for each and every child.

Providing this level of coaching and support for student teachers will help them become more confident and prepared for the role. Reducing the number of responsibilities and accountability for newly qualified teachers could also help with improving mental wellbeing and reducing stress.

The current ‘sink or swim’ approach is clearly contributing to teacher turnover rates, and by throwing teachers into the deep end, they can quickly become overwhelmed and uncertain of their career choice. By creating induction periods, where they can settle into the role teaching a few lessons a day, teachers can build up their career with security and support every step of the way.

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But why are teachers leaving?

Teachers are rarely in the role for the money. Typically, jobs in education are notorious for having low wages. What is really turning teachers towards other career choices is the micro-management. 

In previous years, teachers have had authority over their classroom. However, as more and more regulations and expectations are put in place, teachers have very little discretion when it comes to how to teach their students.

Teachers are now required to spend specific amounts of time on specific content, without taking into consideration the student’s needs or speed of learning. They are also more often judged on student’s standardized test scores, rather than their commitment, creativity or ability to meet the needs of each individual under their care.

By taking a step back and evaluating both the training and expectations of teachers, schools can work to a bright future for their staff and students and improve retention.

Image Credit: why is teacher turnover so high by envato.com

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