How to Retain Your Best Teachers

February 5, 2024 | By: Extramarks

Teacher Retention

Educational institutions invest in good hiring strategies to attract the top pedagogical talent. However, the best institutions also work hard to retain their recruited talent. Talented teachers create a pleasant and memorable learning experience for students, thus improving the standard of education offered in the school and helping their institution build a desirable reputation.

This article will discuss the details of teacher retention, the significance of teacher retention in modern education, the effects of high teacher turnover, and some teacher retention strategies that new-age schools can implement to hold on to talented teachers in their institution.

What is Teacher Retention?

Teacher retention is the same as employee retention in any other industry. An employee may decide to continue working with their organisation, or they may choose to seek new job opportunities. Employers must also make efforts to retain their employees.

Similarly, in the education industry, teachers may choose to stay in the institution they are working with or seek new opportunities. It is up to the schools to make sure they don’t leave. According to a recent study, teachers are most likely to exit their jobs within the first two years. One in five new teachers leave their profession after the first two years, while four in ten leave after the first five years. {SOURCE} Preventing teacher turnover and ensuring that good teachers choose to work with your school is called teacher retention.

Why is Teacher Retention Important?

Why is Teacher Retention important

An exceptional educational experience stems from having a good teacher and consistently receiving high-quality education in school. Having the stability of learning with the same teacher is essential to a student’s experience in a school. To build an exceptional educational journey for their students, all schools must strive to establish a long-term association with their educators. Some essential reasons for the significance of teacher retention are –

  • Costs – Retaining a trained and talented teacher is much more cost-effective than recruiting and training a new teacher.
  • Underprivileged Students – Teacher attrition deeply affects the motivation of disadvantaged students and their learning.
  • Policy Changes – High teacher turnover makes it more difficult for the management to implement new policies and improve school practices.
  • Student Connect – Teachers who work with the same students throughout the year have a good connection with them and understand their learning needs.

Why do Teachers Leave?

There are multiple reasons for teachers to leave their jobs to seek new opportunities. Some of the most common reasons are listed below –

  1. Accountability & ‘Teaching to the Test’ Pressures

    Schools and public administrations usually focus on improving test scores and measuring student performance. The onus of helping the school maintain its ranking depends on teachers. Such accountability may stress teachers and shift the focus from teaching to test scores.

  2. Leadership Support

    When teachers feel the school leadership doesn’t support them, they will likely look for other job opportunities. On the contrary, teachers who feel supported and compatible with school leadership stay in the same institution for the long term.

  3. Disillusionment

    Many people believe teaching is a noble profession, but most don’t know teachers can’t control school policies and procedures. When new teachers realise that they don’t have a say in the school’s decisions or may not advance in their careers for years – they choose to start their careers anew.

  4. Challenging Working Conditions

    A teacher’s job is challenging. They must continue their students’ educational journey despite limited resources, behavioural challenges, and no management support. Many teachers do not endure these challenges and choose to leave instead.

  5. Feeling Undervalued

    Worldwide, teachers feel undervalued and disrespected. On the other hand, in countries with high-quality education systems, teachers think that society values their profession. Teachers who feel undervalued for a long may decide to switch to another profession.

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How Does Teacher Turnover Affect Student Achievement?

Young students tend to bond with teachers and base their learning motivation on their relationship with their teacher. A flux of teachers may result in destabilising the students’ learning journey. If teachers change repeatedly, students may disengage, participate less, and achieve lower grades.
Another reason student achievement plummets with teacher attrition is that substitute teachers are less qualified, less experienced, and do not have a strong connection with the students. Switching to a substitute teacher instead of a teacher they loved can disappoint young students and make them lose interest in the subject. In the case of underprivileged children, this change can hit harder, causing students to miss classes or drop out of school altogether.

How to Retain Your Best Teachers?

Here is a look at some of the best practices for teacher retention –

  1. Eliminate Toxic Culture

    School leaders should be sensitive to the culture and mood of their workforce. If negativity is allowed to build, it can influence the work culture of your institution. Teachers who find their workplace toxic will likely switch jobs or choose different careers.
    Keep a check on the administrative responsibilities given to teachers to ensure they don’t feel overwhelmed. Practice sharing positive affirmations, appreciation for efforts, and maintaining a supportive attitude to foster a positive culture in your school.

  2. Build Personal Connections

    Staff members appreciate honest and transparent relationships with their management. As a school leader, strive to build personal relationships with all your teachers. A lack of personal connection can deprive you of knowing what teachers think or how they feel about working with your school. On the other hand, a solid relationship will enable your staff to approach you with their problems and motivate them to work with your school for the long term.

    Getting involved in your school’s day-to-day activities, initiating conversations with all levels of staff members, and creating opportunities for effortless connections can help you make long-lasting relationships with teachers in your school.

  3. Give Teachers a Voice

    Everyone appreciates an opportunity to voice their concerns, and schools can benefit from allowing teachers to share opinions and raise concerns regularly. Employees who feel heard and valued in their workplaces’ important decisions tend to be more productive and attentive to their responsibilities.
    Encourage teachers to discuss their concerns and elect representatives to raise them to the management. These representatives can also sit at the table when critical management decisions of the school are debated. It will help involve teachers in management and create better transparency in the school hierarchy.

  4. Administrative Support

    Administrative duties like planning lessons, grading tests, photocopying, and writing reports are an indispensable part of a teacher’s role. As the management, you must ensure that teachers are never overburdened by their administrative tasks. Excessive administrative responsibilities may cause teachers to get distracted from teaching responsibilities. Support from school leadership in the form of resources, assistance, and transparent managerial procedures can help teachers fulfil their administrative and pedagogical duties efficiently. Allowing teachers to voice their opinions to the management is also helpful in this scenario.

  5. Opportunities for Collaboration

    Working together can help teachers find new ideas, build better peer relationships, and get unbiased feedback on their methods. Schools should offer teachers opportunities to collaborate several times in the academic year. It will build trust and goodwill among teachers and create organic professional development opportunities for them. School leadership should plan for collaborative pedagogical research projects, problem-solving committees, and collaborative lesson-planning activities for teachers from the beginning of the school year. Teachers should also be encouraged to find collaborative opportunities on their own.

  6. Learn to Appreciate the Efforts of Others

    Management should strive to see the school and administrative decisions from the teachers’ perspective. Teaching and classroom management can be challenging, and teachers deserve support from parents, administrators, and school leaders at every step. School leadership should be mindful to show appreciation for the efforts of teachers and other staff members wherever appropriate. If someone has taken the initiative to change or improve the school system, their efforts should be spotlighted and applauded. It will set teachers up for success and encourage many others to take initiative in the school.

  7. Improve Teacher Autonomy

    Giving teachers a greater influence over how they do their jobs can drastically improve teachers’ job satisfaction and retention. Excessive scrutiny of lessons and teaching styles can be considered intrusive and mistrusting by teachers. Improving teacher autonomy by allowing them to decide their strategy for classroom management and planning their lessons – can create a culture of trust and support in the school. Management should support and work with teachers to solve classroom issues whenever needed. But the relationship should be based on mutual respect and collaboration, not accountability and fear. Better autonomy will help teachers feel respected and valued as professionals.

  8. Flexibility

    Work-life balance for teachers is as important as for other professionals. Often, teachers leave their school or profession as they don’t find the necessary flexibility. In schools where flexible working models are allowed, teacher retention is higher, staff morale and wellbeing are improved, and educators are enthusiastic about capacity and skills development. Flexibility in the work schedule helps teachers reduce stress and improve their lifestyle. School leadership must address the diverse needs of their teachers and offer the flexibility to mould their schedules to suit their needs.

  9. Reduced Workload

    A teacher’s primary responsibility is to teach well and enhance their students’ learning journey. But schools often expect them to contribute more than that. They shoulder administrative responsibilities, discipline protocols, and solve classroom management issues. Although, as an employee of the school, teachers willingly take on several of these tasks, school leadership should be mindful of their workload. Analysing the distribution of school workload and leveraging technology to make administrative work easier are effective strategies to reduce teachers’ workload in schools.

  10. Teaching made easy with Extramarks

    Extramarks partners with schools to offer customised technological solutions for administrative tasks, classroom management, and exam evaluation. Teachers find their workload significantly relieved when they use the Extramarks Teaching App and Assessment Centre to automate many tasks related to grading tests, compiling attendance records, making reports, and planning lessons. All Extramarks solutions are designed to suit educators and students in K-12 education to create a supportive teaching and learning environment.
    End-to-end teaching solutions to help teachers conduct classes effectively.

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  11. Respect

    Creating a culture of respect and value for teachers can drastically improve retention among teachers. Considering the challenges of the teaching job, teachers are likely to work for a school where they feel valued and respected, unlike an institution with an atmosphere of distrust. Parents, school administrators, and students should strive to create a culture of respect for teachers within the walls of the school building and in society.

  12. Purposeful Professional Development for Teachers

    Access to high-quality training and professional development resources can empower teachers to excel and enhance their students’ education experiences. Schools should invest in organising professional development programs for their teachers at least once a year. Schools with lower budgets can opt for organic professional development through peer collaboration, mentorship, and peer-to-peer feedback.

When schools actively try to improve teacher retention, the results speak for themselves. Students thrive with better stability and consistency in their education, while happy teachers work harder to offer a better learning experience. Schools can improve teacher retention just by creating a positive and respectful school culture where teachers feel valued and trusted. Those who can afford to make systemic changes or invest in teacher retention can opt for strategies like better compensation and benefits, organising professional development programs, and giving teachers higher autonomy and flexibility.


Last Updated on May 13, 2024

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