3 Ways to Play the Long Game for Staff Retention 3 Ways to Play the Long Game for Staff Retention

3 Ways to Play the Long Game for Staff Retention

by Casey Hernandez
Casey Hernandez Casey Hernandez Edtech Thought Leader
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The new school year dawns full of promise and potential, but like all momentum, it eventually peters out. Plan ahead using three culture-friendly methods to engage educators and district staff all year round.


Welcome staff as you welcome students

… with a set of expectations crystal-clear from Day 1. Look to school branding to get everyone focused on the same goal. Chances are you already have these mantras and MOs set up, but if not, learn to craft a mission and vision statement that aligns with your district goals—and then get to work building outstanding school branding to match.

Create psychological safety to pave the way for vulnerability and creativity. By providing a safe place for staff to do their best to fulfill the mission and vision, folks are less concerned with micromanagement and more concerned with how to push the boundaries of achievement, learning, and district operations.

By choosing, communicating, and consistently enforcing core priorities, you’ll free up innovative thinkers to envision what’s possible—not just what’s allowed.

“So many things that happen here inside the school are amazing on a daily basis,” Greg Gutschow, a K12 communication director said during a recent interview. “Those kinds of things are magical. For example, a couple high school kids ran a Toys for Tots drive and delivered donations to the community.”


Make this the year you invest (more heavily) in mentorship programs

The first few years as a new teacher are extremely difficult, and many brand-new teachers are jumping ship on the profession as a whole. Pair new(ish) folks with seasoned staff and share the “why” behind these important relationships. Keep mentorship programs going well into a teacher’s second, third, fourth, fifth years and beyond if possible—research shows it takes three to seven years for teachers to gain the experience needed to be considered highly qualified.

Here are nine more do’s and don’ts of effective teacher mentorship. And here’s what a 24-year veteran teacher has to say about the whole process:
“I would give the advice to make time. Set aside time for the mentor and the mentee to get together… sometimes when you have to do that after-hours, it [is] not as effective.”

Learn more from her video interview here.


Take a hard look in the leadership mirror

This one doesn’t always seem fair to hear, but great leaders usually don’t shirk it either. One of the best ways to improve life for your team is to improve your service to them.

Maybe you’ll set out to gather feedback from different stakeholder groups using advisory panels. Dr. Robert Nolting of Consolidated High School District 230 in Illinois explained, “As we’re making decisions, we want to make sure we get a balanced perspective of how that impacts people… often they validate the direction we’re going, but they also allow us to modify plans.”

Maybe you’ll increase your emotional intelligence. Maybe you’ll get vulnerable about your authentic self or your latest learning experience. Maybe you’ll get serious about data automation to free up precious time to build relationships with students.

There are so many challenges school leaders tackle, break into smaller pieces, and delegate to expert teams. Serving as the keystone to all of that progress is at once exhilarating and exhausting—and it takes a great leader to work up the wherewithal to add self-improvement to the ever-growing task list. The educator at your core will appreciate the refill of their proverbial empty cup.

Sharpening your leadership style can absolutely be fun and games. Start by taking a fun personality quiz. Your tailored results are waiting to inspire you. Have a wonderful summer!

Get your Edleader Personality type >

Casey Hernandez Casey Hernandez Edtech Thought Leader
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