Across Nigeria, teacher retention rates have been sinking for the past several years, leading to teacher shortages and lower student performance. Many individuals and organizations that operate in the educational field believe that a primary factor in these low figures is teacher burnout.
A mid-2014 report by the Alliance for Excellent Education found that about half a million teachers leave the profession every year in the United States. That’s an attrition rate of about 20%, compared to just 9% in 2009. According to the same study, this constant cycle of teachers coming and going costs school districts over $2.2 billion per year.
While it might seem like the obvious solution, higher pay is not always the answer. Several researchers have suggested that a positive school climate and a degree of autonomy are more effective at decreasing a school’s teacher burnout rate than pay raises.
Here are some tips for administrators to help schools avoid teacher burnout and improve teacher retention rates.
Reduce Teacher Burnout with Mental Health Resources
According to a Gallup report on the “State of American Schools” noted that half of teachers reported daily stress, while nearly 70 percent did not feel engaged with their work. Though, undocumented we can vividly imagine what the numbers will be in Nigeria. One way that school administrations can help teachers deal with work-related stress is by offering mental health resources. Add “mental health days” to the faculty’s bank of vacation/sick days, and encourage teachers to use them as time to rest and recharge. It’s also helpful to provide support services such as informational resources, classes, and seminars about stress management and how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Improve Teacher Retention by Giving Them a Voice
One of the biggest frustrations teachers report is feeling a lack of autonomy, in their classrooms and in the larger school environment. To combat these concerns, offer opportunities for teachers to get involved in the decision-making process for various topics around the school—including those that directly and indirectly affect their jobs.
Provide open lines of communication—between individual teachers, departments, and administrators. Additionally, it can be helpful to establish anonymous ways for teachers to deliver feedback as well; this can help school administrators get information that is critical, but which might not have been reported if a teacher wasn’t comfortable having his or her name attached to it.
Another proactive way to give teachers a voice in your school is through teacher surveys. The results from these surveys can help inform the leadership in the schools and districts about teacher perceptions, concerns, and evaluations of everything from school climate and leadership to the overall teaching and learning experience.
Create a Positive School Climate and Educational Environment
Another primary factor contributing to teacher stress and burnout is a negative or neutral school climate. Counteract this by encouraging teachers to work together and support one another academically, professionally, and socially. Establish environments where collaboration is promoted and positively reinforced. One way to do this is to have teachers share success stories or recent classroom “wins” during staff meetings.
By taking proactive steps towards developing a positive school climate, you can improve not only your teacher retention rate, but also increase student achievement and success.
Take off the burden of Administrative Chores
While it has become acceptable that teachers take on para-administrative duties as part of job functions; it is increasingly becoming difficult to focus and deliver on their primary function as a teacher. And this scenario is ultimately telling on the students’ performance.
School administrators may be concerned about the overhead costs for employing different persons for routine administrative jobs but that fear is allayed with the emergence of enterprise resource planning software like the Tech Educational Management System (TEMS) which takes cares of the management of institution’s process from end-to-end.
TEMS can effectively manage your school from student registration to admission and record keeping, fees schedules, academic timetables, bridge communications gap between key stakeholders and present actionable reports.
Additional Teacher Retention Strategies
These teacher retention strategies are not exhaustive, and each school environment is unique. Initiate conversations with your school’s teachers to identify areas of concern and to plan out solutions. One great way to assess levels of faculty stress, trends toward teacher burnout, and overall perceptions of school climate is through teacher surveys. If your school is suffering from high levels of teacher burnout and low levels of teacher retention, it’s important that administrators take immediate and decisive action to reverse the negative trends.