The Annual Effective Educator Development Summit was hosted over the past two weeks. The 2021 EED Summit, previously in-person, was an interactive virtual series hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and the Effective Educator Development Technical Assistant Center. Their work is to support school districts, institutes of higher education (like the TQP grant that I work on here at Temple), and nonprofit organizations receiving U.S. DOE EED grants. They focus on implementing and sustaining our (grantee) efforts to improve the quality of teacher and leader preparation, equitable distribution of highly effective teachers and leaders, and monitoring program implementation.
A number of resources were shared including frameworks, toolkits, and a vast amount of research. At the conclusion of the event attendees were issued a standard survey to provide feedback and assured that the feedback would be used to inform improvements to next year’s summit. Pretty straightforward process for this type of conference; however, as I reflected with a group of program directors and coordinators from around the country we shared a general sense of being slightly overwhelmed by the amount of information and research presented vs. our first hand knowledge of the actual boots on the ground dilemmas we were facing, which are many! We concluded that yes, while recruiting is an absolute beast, teacher retention is the challenge. The question we parted ways with was this: How can we impact the larger scope of elements essential to teacher retention from our current positions?
Teacher residency programs across the country have a similar mission and vision in that we hope to disrupt historical educational inequities by advancing the teacher residency movement to prepare effective, diverse, and culturally responsive educators. Most models do this by blending a rigorous full-year classroom apprenticeship for pre-service teachers with academic coursework that is closely aligned to the classroom experience. Teacher residents learn how to teach by working for an entire year alongside a highly trained, mentor teacher in the school district where the resident will eventually work. Teacher residency programs typically require that candidates commit to teach in the school for a minimum of three years post graduation.
While the National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) reports an 85% retention rate three years after graduation from their partner residencies, the National Education Association reports that approximately 50% of new teachers will leave the profession within the first 5 years of teaching.
In my role as the residency coordinator for Temple Teacher Residency, since January 2020, the residency cohort has doubled in size largely in response to the social and mobile strategies I’ve implemented into the overall recruitment plan; however, according to Education Elements, Dynamic Recruitment – attracting and selecting teachers based on an inspiring challenge and clear competencies only checks 1 of the 8 Essential Elements of Teacher Retention.
To begin to answer the question posed above we will continue to test innovative mobile and social tactics within our overall strategies to achieve the other 7 elements of teacher retention which include:
- Energized by Purpose – have a clear compelling purpose that inspires teacher to join and stay
- Teacher Agency – building systems that empower teachers to be decision makers and innovators
- Targeted Incentives – Rewarding teachers for growing in and achieving specific competencies and outcomes
- Curated Communities – Supporting teachers to connect and collaborate in diverse, purposeful communities
- Career Pathways – provide teachers with clear pathways for learning, leadership, and promotion
- Clear Communication – Communicate with teachers regarding goals, decisions, rationale, and supports
- Consistent Celebrations – Celebrate learnings and successes regularly across our community
Overall the past two weeks spent with other grantees who are in the trenches was inspiring! Equipped with knowledge in the area of digital marketing, I was able to add a fresh perspective and share program successes that piqued my peer’s interest and has prompted several followup meetings and conversations. Together researchers and practitioners can work to mitigate teacher turnover, by innovativing outside of the education box. As a result of cultivating effective collaboration, increasing teacher success, and improving school culture, we can work to create a school environment in which both students and teachers can thrive.