- Administrators can take advantage of the summer months and build a good work environment by showing appreciation for teachers. Simple gestures go a long way towards keeping teachers connected and excited to return in the fall, Tracey Smith, principal of Brookwood Elementary in Georgia, writes for eSchool News.
- Sending educators handwritten notes, emails or texts during the off-season can be a way to personalize outreach. Starting in mid-June, Smith writes five to seven notes each night until she has sent one to each teacher on her staff.
- Smith also encourages the teachers in each grade to do something fun as a group, like go to a movie. Using social media to exchange fun photos and updates is another great way for teachers to stay connected.
Creating a supportive teacher culture can improve teacher retention rates and even increase student test scores. When Lew Wallace School 107 in Indianapolis implemented the Opportunity Culture initiative — which provides excellent teachers with additional compensation to serve as multi-classroom leaders and mentor other teachers — numbers for both soared. After the program's implementation, 97% of kindergartners were achieving at grade level and the retention rate of first-year teachers was also at 97%.
Successful principal leadership can be key to creating a supportive work environment and increasing teacher satisfaction. In San Antonio, building a positive work culture for teachers led principal Sonya Mora to teach lessons herself as a way to model a higher level of instruction. Not only did this kind of support improve teacher retention, but it also increased student engagement and decreased the number of disciplinary actions.
Teacher stress must also be addressed by administrators who want to retain their talent. School reform efforts, test pressures and student issues are emotionally taxing on many teachers. Reducing teachers' stress levels, which can in part be achieved by taking simple steps like Smith did, should be a top priority in retention efforts.