'Opportunity culture' breeds dramatic cut in teacher turnover at Indianapolis school
- In the past three years, teacher retention at Indianapolis' School 107, an elementary school, has gone from only around half to about 97% this year, Chalkbeat reports.
- Receiving credit for that improvement is an Indianapolis Public Schools teacher leadership initiative centered around "opportunity culture," now in place in 15 of the district's schools, which sees experienced teachers receive up to an additional $18,300 in salary to take on leadership roles, supporting several classrooms and mentoring peers without having to leave the classroom entirely.
- School 107 has three teachers in these mentorship and training roles, in which they model lessons, form small groups and work on lesson plans across multiple classrooms.
While teacher recruitment is given significantly more attention amid talent shortages and general difficulties in attracting talented young educators to schools or districts in certain areas, keeping them around once they've been hired can be just as difficult. Successful teachers who show demonstrable results in the classroom can easily be wooed away by a school or district in an area they might find more desirable, especially if opportunities for growth in their current school or district seem limited or pay isn't as good as they'd hope.
On the latter front, of course, schools and districts are limited by the realities of available funding — though concerns among educators have also recently reached a boiling point, with rallies over pay and benefit issues occurring in several states.
Administrators do have more control, however, over available leadership opportunities. Research from the Education Commission of the States shows that part of why educators leave a school is feeling that they don't have voice and their opportunities to advance into leadership are limited. But some also don't want to leave the classroom entirely.
By providing the opportunity to serve as teacher leaders, schools and districts can create an environment where younger teachers have the support they need, they can lead while still teaching, and they can take on an advocacy role among their peers to lead with ideas from the bottom up. The latter is especially important as administrators and policymakers alike are often reminded that K-12's greatest untapped innovation engines are the people in the classroom.
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