How can we prevent new teacher turnover? In Australia at least 50% of people with a teaching degree are leaving education. This is suggested by the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of statistics. About 40 to 50 percent of Australia’s newest teachers leave education within their first five years. In the United States, more than half a million teachers (over 15%) leave their career during the school year. While America may lead the world in teacher attrition, teachers everywhere struggle with staying motivated.
Associate Professor Philip Riley from the Australian Catholic University predicts that the teaching workforce will drastically reduce, and Australia will suffer teacher shortages. Student size will increase by 26 per cent by 2022 but will we have the teachers for them? This will likely result in more and more larger class sizes. With experienced teachers leaving the profession and the less experienced being called on to do more.
When teachers are placed in a classroom, they typically feel like they have to “sink or swim”. One of the biggest reasons many new teachers leave their position is that overall they didn’t feel like they were getting the external support they needed. In addition to mentoring programs, participating in communities of teachers who are ready and willing to help can be a real lifesaver. Especially where many teachers feel like they are starting to “sink”.
Personally, I know dozens of teachers that have quit teaching in five years or less. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this percentage ie pay, autonomy, and potential growth, just to name a few. Getting Teacher Accreditation and teacher permanency is another. There are small things we can do as teachers to help new teachers stay inspired and motivated. Enough to help new teachers pass that five-year mark. What are they?
According to many new teachers, one of the most difficult parts of transitioning into their new career is meeting all of the demands. From lesson planning and classroom management, to meetings and paperwork, new teachers have a lot on their plate. In order to help new teachers manage, more experienced teachers must step in. Just taking five minutes to demonstrate a strategy that makes the load feel a bit lighter is always helpful. In addition, helping guide new teachers through the day to day responsibilities, alleviates stress. Allowing for questions and open dialogue can also make new teachers feel like they are not alone. Instead, they feel they have a supportive team at their aid.
As experienced teachers, most of us probably feel like we have plenty of friends at work. We might not view our circles at work as “cliques” but new teachers can perceive these friendships as such. By being spontaneous, and simply extending invitations to lunches or prep period planning, we can prevent new teacher turnover. We can help new teachers get plugged into the school. Thus, making new teachers have a more enjoyable experience day-to-day.
New teachers have a lot on their plate. This is one of the main complaints
teachers have who are on the fence about quitting. We might feel like it’s enough to listen to the problems new teachers at our schools are havi
ng. That doesn’t cut it in my book. We need to do more to stop new teacher turnover. Rather than adding to their complaint list, we should offer practical advice. BUT don’t become a know it all and start domineering anyone. Yuck, I hate that – don’t you?
Gently and quietly help a new teacher manage everything without getting burnt out. In fact, a study showed that “92 percent of teachers assigned a mentor their first year returned the next year. Plus, 86 percent were on the job by the fifth year.”
Our motto ‘Teachers help Teachers’ is just a matter of sharing the good stuff we know. From systems we use to stay organised to how we assign projects and grade tests. All of these things we’ve learned over the years can make a huge difference in preventing new teacher turnover. Let’s be that mentor for those new teachers!
Be a teacher mentor and stop new teacher turnover
The more we encourage new teacher involvement the less likely it will be that they are tempted to quit (or move to a different school). It can be anything, from after-school committees to extracurricular clubs and organizations.
While it might seem counterintuitive to ask new teachers to do more, its actually the best way to prevent new teacher turnover. Especially if they’re already doing a lot. Getting them involved with students so that they can create relationships is a huge way to help them feel like they belong. Reminding them why they wanted to teach in the first place.
As experienced teachers, you understand what helps teachers feel supported – and which parts of the profession are frustrating. “New teachers need support once they’re in schools,” Professor Robyn Ewing from the University of Sydney, who also researches teacher attrition, says. “A well mentored new teacher is three times likely to stay in the game”. Professional Teaching Standards with its extensive administration takes up a lot of time. Which means that teachers spend most of their time, when not teaching, documenting for teacher accreditation, leaving no time to support colleagues.
Keep your eyes open for those opportunities to befriend and invite a new teacher to lunch or another social gathering. Step up to be a mentor and not wait to be asked. Share your knowledge freely, it will help you to grow too. Finally, encourage a new teacher to become involved in one extracurricular club to develop stronger student-teacher relationships.