How to Retain Highly Qualified Teachers

Kelly Nelson-Danley
Kelly Nelson-Danley
Assistant Elementary School Principal in NC; Master's in Elementary Education

Obtaining and developing quality teachers is one of the highest priorities belonging to school administrators, especially in hard to staff schools. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a high portion of public school teachers are leaving their positions, with 13.8 percent leaving their sites or leaving education altogether. Additionally, schools are finding it hard to fill the vacancies that attrition, turnover, and other factors create.

The Need

A lack of highly qualified teachers means a threat to student learning and teacher effectiveness. A teacher shortage makes a positive professional reputation hard to build and maintain. It also puts a strain on the goal of providing all students with a sound and equitably education. Considering this, it is imperative that school districts and administrators are able to hire quality teachers and retain highly qualified teachers.

Keeping Highly Qualified Teachers

Once you have highly qualified teachers, how do you keep them? Three ways to hang on to good teachers include:

Helping new educators reach mastery — By helping them become experts, we are able to help new teachers feel good about their accomplishments and learn to reflect on and grow their practice.

Giving them a purpose — By reminding teachers of their most important purpose, teaching and learning, we can help them see past their daily struggles and the politics of education, and be reminded that delivering quality instruction is their main goal.

Providing them with autonomy — When teachers are given autonomy, they are trusted to make instructional decisions, and are more willing to collaborate with other colleagues regarding instruction, pacing and assessments. When they feel valued and enjoy the environment they work in, they are more likely to feel a connection to their workplace, feel as though they are making an instructional impact on students, and continue on in the field of education.

Tips for Administrators

Keeping good teachers is easier said than done. It requires a lot of thought and attention to the needs of students, staff, and stakeholders within a school. Administrators may find the following tips useful when retaining good teachers.

  • Utilize mentors for teachers in need and place quality teachers in leadership/mentoring roles.
  • Treat teachers as professionals.
  • Provide Professional Development to staff that aligns with specific school needs.
  • Reward good teaching however you are able (this may be in the form of special treats, or verbal accolades if funds are not available).
  • Provide teachers with opportunities for growth.
  • Build relationships with and get to know teachers.
  • Provide good teachers with opportunities to contribute to school improvement.
  • Provide teachers with opportunities to give feedback.
  • Provide up-to-date technology and resources.
  • Check in with teachers often.

Administrators must work hard to hold onto talented educators in a competitive marketplace, but it can be done with some forethought and strategic maintenance.

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