Attracting and retaining new teachers has never been more important–or more difficult.
This means that school leaders must be thoughtful and creative in their approach to recruiting–and retaining–new teachers. Oftentimes these two work hand in hand. If you create a happy, healthy working environment for your existing teachers, not only will they want to stay, but a satisfied staff will make it easy for you to fill any new positions.
PART ONE: HOW TO ATTRACT NEW TEACHERS
HAVE A “WHY” AND STAND BY IT
Having a clear school identity and mission can be critical in recruiting new teachers. This is true for a number of reasons.
First, it helps to ensure that teachers applying to your school have shared values. For instance, if your school has an explicit focus on business entrepreneurship, new teachers applying to your school will likely share those values. This alignment cultivates a sense of purpose and belonging. When teachers work within a school that doesn’t align with their values or passions, they are less likely to stay.
Second, it helps to create a positive school culture. When teachers are able to rally around a shared mission and purpose, they can more easily create strong relationships, camaraderie, and collaboration. This type of school culture not only attracts new teachers, it fosters the supportive environment that new teachers–and all teachers–need to stay.
COLLABORATE WITH COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Building collaborative relationships with colleges and universities with education programs can be a highly effective teacher recruitment strategy. There are a number of ways to do this:
- Welcome students from nearby colleges to complete their practicums (i.e. observation hours, student-teaching, etc.) in your school.
- Collaborate with professors in college education departments to provide professional development within your school.
- Encourage teachers from your school to volunteer as guest speakers for local education courses.
These partners are mutually beneficial: they support the professional development of emerging teachers while simultaneously building relationships with educators who will soon be on the job market.
HAVE A SCHOOL SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
It is common for schools to have their own social media pages, just like a business. And just like with a business, these accounts can be used to showcase the personality of the school while also delivering timely information. This will help new potential teachers get a read of what the school vibe is, before even heading in for an interview. And, as an added bonus, open teaching positions can be posted on social media and then shared by parents, Administration, and current teachers. This approach feels more personal, and when a “friend” recommends a job opening, you will likely give it more consideration.
PART TWO: HOW TO GET YOUR TEACHERS TO STAY
Providing mentorship opportunities for your teachers is an incredibly effective strategy at both retaining while supporting the growth and development of new educators.
Whether or not your school has a new teacher mentor system in place, here are a couple suggestions for a robust and impactful mentorship program:
Create strong mentor-mentee partnerships
Sometimes, the most obvious mentor for a new teacher is a colleague within the same subject-area. While this can certainly be effective, there are other considerations to make when establishing mentor partnerships:
- What specific areas of instruction (i.e. differentiated instruction, creating classroom community, etc.) do my new teachers need support, and which seasoned staff member excels in those areas?
- What scheduling barriers do I need to consider in order to make mentor-mentee meetings easily accessible?
- What are the personalities of my new teachers and which seasoned staff members might be a good fit?
Make time for mentoring
When the burden of finding time for mentor meetings is placed upon the teachers, it can easily fall by the wayside. Instead, create structures that make mentor meetings integrated into teachers’ schedules. This might look like creating time in staff meetings for mentor meetings or aligning prep periods between mentors and mentees, or even sending an assistant to cover for an hour.
Early in the mentoring relationship, work with your new teachers to establish clear goals for their mentorship. These goals might include utilizing formative assessments to inform instruction, creating standards-aligned lesson plans, or implementing discussion protocols into each lesson. Clearly identifying these goals helps to provide a structure that will guide the support offered by each mentor.
PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR TEACHERS TO GET BETTER AT TEACHING
Providing all teachers, but especially new teachers with strong professional development (PD) can greatly impact retention. While educators learn a great deal from their teacher preparation programs, there is so much learning and growth that happens once teachers enter the classroom. Creating a comprehensive professional learning plan for new teachers ensures that they receive the support necessary to tackle the inevitable challenges they will encounter and to develop confidence in their practice.
A comprehensive professional learning plan looks like scaffolding a series of support systems that offer targeted and ongoing learning opportunities. This could look like laying the traditional PD workshops with one-on-one coaching, and access to virtual learning courses. Additionally, these layers of professional support should be anchored by clear instructional goals that are aimed by targeting the skills your new teachers need to develop.
Explicitly promoting your school’s commitment to professional learning during the teacher recruitment phase can help attract early-career educators who care about investing in their professional growth.
Recruiting and retaining new teachers is a complicated but critical task. It involves school culture, professional support, recruitment strategy, and more. BetterLesson is here to support you through this process! Schedule a call with us today to learn more about how we can collaborate and support.