4 Creative Culture Considerations to Retain Teachers 4 Creative Culture Considerations to Retain Teachers

4 Creative Culture Considerations to Retain Teachers

by Lindsey Canny
Lindsey Canny Lindsey Canny Edtech Thought Leader
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There’s no easy way to say it but to say it: the #1 way to keep teachers on the payroll is to increase their pay. If a district has the means to manage that, then that should be step one to boosting teacher retention. Unfortunately, a lot of districts out there just don’t have the budget to provide monetary motivation. If that’s the case, cashing in on creative district culture initiatives can make your district the place to be (and stay!).


Routine: Enticing teachers with a family culture

A recent study revealed that 1 in 5 job seekers see the descriptor “family” in the workplace as a red flag, due to the perception that there will be a lack of work-life balance. Teaching as a profession is notoriously out of balance in this regard, causing good educators to trade the work family for their actual families.


Retain: Investing students in a family culture

Japan famously gives every student duties to complete each day in the school: cleaning classrooms and campus grounds, serving lunch, and leading morning meetings with announcements and attendance. Even if your school doesn’t start handing out brooms and mops, putting students in charge of activities—big or small—that uphold the entire community will give them pride in ownership of their school, and instill a sense of responsibility and respect for the educational space.

Read about students in charge of Chromebook repairs

For teachers, this kind of cultural shift will prove that job-posting buzzwords like “family” and “team” aren’t just talk to get them in the door, but ideals that district leaders value for every member of the community, top to bottom. If there’s anything that can invest teachers in a district, it’s administration that walks the walk after talking the talk. Speaking of…


Routine: Administration in the office 

Teachers are no strangers to having administrators visit the classroom—usually for evaluations—but a few visits here and there do not directly translate to admin visibility and support. That physical distance between the office and the classroom can create an empathy gap that widens over time, leaving both administrators and teachers feeling frustrated and detached.


Retain: Admin on the move

More than anything, teachers want to know that the people who make decisions that directly impact their job are aware of what the job is on a day-to-day basis. The best way to see the effects of your leadership? Get out there!

Some administrators are taking this admin-on-the-ground strategy to the next level and have moved their daily operations to a rolling cart in the hallway. If this is a strategy that can work for your district’s team, roll on! If doing business from an AV cart just isn’t workable, however, start by setting aside a block of time each day to walk the building, popping in on students and staff, making sure to address concerns and follow up with solutions. Be your staff’s best advocate, and the staff will advocate for your district.

Learn how to ease the mental load for staff and teachers


Routine: Standard social media

At this point, every school district should have a social media presence, but that’s just it—every district is on social media. On its own, it’s not much of a selling point. Similarly, it’s not much of a retention point if socials aren’t being used to their highest potential to lift up the culture of the school.


Retain: Standout social presence

Don’t waste any opportunity to shout from the rooftops about how amazing your district community is! Sometimes teaching feels like a thankless job, but public appreciation for the hard work that goes into everyday learning will make educators feel like someone is truly paying attention. Take a page from districts who are already killing it on social media: use your website, Facebook page, Instagram, and YouTube channel to shine a spotlight on teacher and student creativity, success, and innovation. As an added bonus, parents will be able to feel like they are more connected to what’s going on in their kids’ days, creating trust and unity with families and the school.


Routine: Labeling teachers as leaders

Traditional upward mobility can be hard to come by for teachers, given the lack of middle management positions built into the educational structure, but professional growth is key for ongoing engagement and fulfillment in one’s work. Careful, though—it’s a tightrope between creating real leadership prospects and creating a heavier, more unmanageable workload.  


Retain: Making authentic teacher-leaders

To cultivate authentic teacher-leaders, start by making official middle-leadership positions with unique titles, pay scales, and job descriptions. When educators see internal postings for department heads, curriculum coordinators, or PD coaches with clearly defined duties, they will feel more confident that their district is looking to develop these roles in a meaningful way, rather than pushing additional duties onto established positions. These kinds of growth opportunities give staff a way to advance their careers while also giving them autonomy and influence over their own work—the perfect recipe for job satisfaction and retention. Still need your teachers teaching? Leadership positions can be split scheduled with teaching duties so that both can be done without one encroaching on the other.

Like any great culture, a successful retention-driven culture cannot be built in a day. Making moves to improve even one cultural consideration over the course of a school year can move that needle toward staff retention. If nothing else, continuous forward movement toward healthier climate and culture in schools will go much further than lip service. When your district leaders commit to action, they’ll show staff how much they matter, not just say that they do.


Follow-up resource: Poll the audience

Have you asked your stakeholders and community what their thoughts on school culture are lately? There's a survey template for that.


Lindsey Canny Lindsey Canny Edtech Thought Leader
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