Ways to retain the best teachers in schools

Ways to retain the best teachers in schools

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retain the best teachers

“The right to education becomes meaningful only when backed by quality teachers”. Yet, teacher retention is one of the most challenging issues faced by all educational institutions and for sure COVID 19 pandemic has added another layer of complexity to it. 

According to a survey around 8% of teachers leave the profession every year, pointing to a prophecy “Will there be a mass exodus of teachers very soon?” Well only time will tell. Before going ahead with ways to retain the best teachers, let us take a look at some facts.

Why do the best teachers leave?

“I didn’t know that you were leaving” is an oft repeated statement in an educational establishment that doesn’t listen to its employees. The graph below shows some striking reasons.

Teachers Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2012 & 2013.

The academic year 2020 – 2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic was unprecedented. In March 2021, 42% of teachers said that they have considered leaving or retiring from teaching with more than half giving COVID -19 as a reason


Source: Zamarro, G., Camp, A., Fuchsman, D., & McGee, J. B. (2021). Understanding how COVID-19 has Changed Teachers’ Chances of Remaining in the Classroom. Education Reform Faculty and Graduate Students Publications.

Why retain the Best teachers?

‘Work for retaining effective teachers rather than working to retain all teachers’

                                                               – Federal policy initiatives during the Obama administration.

More the number of best teachers retained, the more successful and happy an establishment. 

When the best teachers are retained, any or all of the following is likely to happen:

  • Reduction of Teacher shortage and frequent recruitment of new teachers
  • Reduction in teacher turnover
  • Long term positive teacher – pupil relationships and trust 
  • Teachers experienced in school methods and policies 
  • Smooth and easy implementation of new and innovative ideas
  • Overall growth and success of the institution
  • Retaining valuable knowledge as Experienced teachers know their school and their students inside out. Their input is vital when it comes to identifying needs and developing solutions. When they leave, their experience is lost and overall teacher quality may suffer.

Ways to retain the best teachers in schools: 

There are no great schools without great teachers. The key to education is the person at the front of the classroom. At a time when there are more pupils in the schools than ever before, we need to attract and keep  great people in teaching.” 

                                                       – Department for Education’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy

Now, let’s look at some Retention strategies which have been successful in Teacher retention:

1. Improve Teacher Autonomy

Making teachers feel valued, trusting their work, dedication and commitment, giving them autonomy to explore their teaching methods is very important. Scrutiny into their teaching styles and lesson plans, classroom observations with non-constructive feedback demotivates a teacher resulting in their quitting school.

According to a survey around 8% of teachers leave the profession every year, pointing to a prophecy “Will there be a mass exodus of teachers very soon?” Well only time will tell.

2. Flexibility

Better work-life balance is very important to decrease work stress and increase enjoyment in work. Flexible and reduced working hours can boost staff self morale and well-being and improve working capacity and skill development.

Also Read: Dear teachers, here’s how you make students future-ready


3. Teacher respect and support 

A conducive environment for teachers in schools will definitely keep them hooked to the schools they are working for. Leadership needs to trust their best subordinates, motivate them to work innovatively and encourage them to contribute towards institutional growth. Also respecting one and all is one vital factor that makes teachers valued and important and engaged.

Better work-life balance is very important to decrease work stress and increase enjoyment in work. 

4. Professional development opportunities

Providing professional development training to the teachers often, helps the teachers to grow professionally and incur knowledge of new and advanced developments, thus keeping in pace with the latest trends. Best teachers consider this opportunity provided by the institution as an added feather to their professional growth and hence will be happy to stay and serve in the existing institution.

5. Reduce workload

Heavy workload is one of the main reasons cited by the Department for Education to leave schools. Employment of more teachers, distribution of workload, reducing the number of teaching periods per teacher with giving free slots to relax and prepare for next classes is very much required for mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of teachers.

6. Collaboration and teamwork

Encourage collaboration and teamwork over single handed work by teachers. Any work be it classes, projects, functions, etc should be done collaboratively in teacher teams. Making best and experienced teachers group leaders would be another way of acknowledging teachers skills and thus driving the working teams towards productive work.

7. Teacher Surveys

Surveying teachers regularly about their wellbeing, needs, demands, improvement strategies, etc, is mandatory for a successful school. Many tools like feedback survey forms or one-on-one sessions. Believe it or not this strategy will definitely help you retain the best teachers, as their feelings, concerns and requirements get  heard and they feel safe.

8. Celebration and Rewards

Celebrate the teachers’ efforts, hard work, achievements and success. Show some gratitude to their contribution through celebration, rewards, incentives and promotions. This small gesture will work wonders for your institution.

9. Better salaries and other compensations

Only Altruism is not sufficient to attract  teachers towards the teaching profession and retain high ability, experienced and best teachers in the classrooms. Good salaries, facilities like employee provident funds, compensations and travelling and housing allowances etc.  should also be looked at.

When it comes to navigating such a difficult staffing environment, School leaders should remember that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Focusing on simple, proven retention strategies can help reduce the burden on recruitment staff and ensure schools have the teachers they need to support every student at this critical moment.

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