Teacher Retention; Do you care?
School closures, teacher or administrator turnover, and increased school violence are some issues that come to mind when educators quit. To quit (according to dictionary.com) is “to stop, cease, or discontinue; to depart from; to give up or resign; let go; relinquish [etc]“…Professionals not passionate for education or the young learners quit. I believe a best practice is to care for your students, your administrators and ultimately the state of education irrespective of your school, district, or state.
My school has the youngest teaching staff that I have ever been a part. In this environment I am among one of the oldest teaching faculty members. The approximate average age of our faculty is 27 and while that looks great initially, I am disappointed at the turnover rate and subsequent next practice in education.
To provide context, I have been teaching for the same charter school in Philadelphia County for about four years while the school is in its sixth year of operation. Approximately sixty percent of our faculty are from Teach for America (TFA) and usually hold two year teaching commitments from that organization. Eventually most TFA’ers leave the school after their commitment and degree are fulfilled and obtained, respectively. Because of these repetitive actions (and consistent teacher turnover) this is the expected next practice in education for our school, but why?
Any other career requires more than a two or three year commitment to get good at something. Think about that promotion to supervisor or assistant manager in another field? Would you quit because you got five different bosses in a year? Would you resign because the customer didn’t memorize your return policy and constantly created problems in your store? No you wouldn’t. In fact, that might prove the contrary, opportunity for you to show your commitment to the organization, your dedication and ability to be flexible while persevering through this turbulence of challenges.
Caring for your students can be accomplished in several ways, for example building relationships with your students. Another best practice is to build relationships with as many students as possible mainly because it increases student and teacher buy-in. With both parties invested in the educational process the benefits increase dramatically. Additionally, I feel very few people end a relationship where there is mutual respect, sincere dependability, and both parties share the common goal of achieving academic excellence. Let’s maintain and build upon the best practices and stop the next practices that have the subsequent negative effect on the education system overall.