A poll conducted by the National Education Association in 2022 found that 55 percent of educators are likely to leave the field or retire sooner than they planned. Let’s face it, being an educator is hard. The daily challenges educators face have led to burnout and difficulty finding substitute teachers. It is critical that we focus on educator wellness in order to support the educators who are staying in the field and offer them resources that will make their lives easier.
Teacher Retention Strategies
The following are simple steps with a big impact when it comes to making your educators feel supported.
One of The Best Teacher Retention Strategies is The Gift of Time
Educators often say that unexpected free time is one of the best gifts they could receive. Whether it be canceling a before or after-school all-staff meeting or covering lunch duty. Giving educators more planning time during the school day promotes work/life balance. We often hear that educators have to work outside of their contracted hours because their plan periods are filled up with meetings or other mandatory events. Promoting educator well-being means giving them the flexibility to maximize their productivity during their contract hours so they can unplug outside of work.
Showing Appreciation Goes A Long Way Towards Educator Wellness
Similarly, expressing gratitude goes a long way. A simple note you put in educators’ cubbies or a verbal shout-out or praise when you do get staff together. Words of encouragement make a large impact toward teachers feeling valued and appreciated. No one wants their hard work to go unnoticed. This small gesture makes people feel like important, contributing members of the school community.
Cultivating a Positive School Culture Boosts Educator Wellness
Making educators’ work environment, a positive one is also going to improve educator wellness. It’s important to make sure educators feel they have a voice, have opportunities for growth, and are recognized for their contributions to the school community. Encourage mentorship between younger teachers and more experienced teachers across grade levels. With a positive school culture, educators will be more excited to go to work and feel more connected all together.
Ask for Feedback
Everything mentioned above is a great start at prioritizing educator wellness. What’s even better? Making it a priority to listen to your teachers’ experiences. After conducting a few listening sessions, or just when listening to what teachers are telling you in passing, you will have a better understanding of your school’s pain points. From the information you’ve gathered, you can work with other school officials to implement changes to alleviate some of the stressors contributing to educators’ days. It can be uncomfortable to directly ask educators what is going poorly, but the best way to grow your school community and make it a positive place to work is to know the hard stuff so you can help make it better. This also means you have to be open to receiving negative feedback. If your staff fears retaliation, they will not be authentic. Work on building trust within your school so you can get to the hard stuff and serve as a leader working to make it better.
Advocate, Advocate, Advocate
Change does not happen overnight, but it does happen when people use their voices persistently. The feelings your school community may be experiencing are not isolated. Encourage leaders and other educators across your district to vocalize how people are feeling. The district as a whole will benefit from your advocacy. Educator wellness should be prioritized across your district and can be when you focus on sharing what you have learned from your educators with district leaders.
These teacher retention strategies are just a few of the ways you can authentically support educator well-being. Teachers play an important role and do much more than just teach subjects. They are supporting the development of young minds into well-rounded individuals of the future. To do this well and reduce burnout, we need to focus on how we can care for and support those staying within the field.
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