5 Reasons Teachers Leave and How to Prevent It

Teacher turnover is on the rise. Overall, nearly a tenth of U.S. teachers are leaving the profession each year. A third of teacher attrition is due to baby boomers retiring. If you are in the unenviable position of trying to find replacements to great teachers, you are not alone. It is getting harder and harder to find quality teachers that stick around.

A teacher carrying a tablet smiles while students are working at their desks facing the front of the classroom.

There are very legitimate reasons for the high turnover rate, but there are still ways to attract and retain standout talent in the education field. Here are five common reasons teachers are leaving their jobs and some ways to beat the odds and keep them.

1. Lackluster Pay

Most anyone agrees that teachers absolutely deserve better pay. Current pay can be so bad teachers end up working a second job just to make ends meet. Many young people have already decided to not pursue a career in education because the pay just doesn’t cut it.

How to keep them: Offering incentives and bonuses can make a massive difference in motivating teachers. Try integrating case bonuses and/or salary increases to give tangible ways to improve earnings. Incentive staying by offering a retention bonus. It is also helpful to provide benefits like flex scheduling, financial planning or medical. Maybe you’re thinking you can’t afford any of these ideas. Don’t worry, there are more budget-friendly ways to better attract and retain quality teachers.

2. Poor Professional Development

Continuing to develop the talent you do have is crucial in any field, especially education. Yet, there is often more quantity than quality professional development offerings for teachers. In a 2014 national survey, teachers said the professional training they receive is neither relevant nor effective.

How to keep them: If you want to attract teachers, provide continuing education opportunities that will actually help them grow and thrive. Ultimately, you should let the teachers decide what they want in terms of offerings. One thing to consider is having teachers teach. People want someone who has been in their own shoes to teach them. Try to make the experience interactive — the more hands-on it is, the better. Remember to get feedback by having teachers evaluate the different classes or programs.

3. No One Is Listening

Teachers need to be heard, and clearly, they do not feel they are. According to a Gallup report, less than 10 percent of K-12 teachers in the U.S. feel their input is considered in school decisions. You need to be intentional in giving them a voice. There are many ways you can give educators a voice.

How to keep them: Try to let teachers select their own materials and methods, which provides them a sense of autonomy. Create opportunities for transparent conversations between teachers and administrators. Finally, encourage your teachers to explore new approaches in their classrooms.

4. No Support

One of the top things teachers look for in a job is administrative support. When that support is not felt, teachers are more than twice as likely to leave. Providing that support can be tricky, so here are a few ways to consider going about it:

  • Bridge the gap between administration and the teachers through better communication channels.
  • Inspire teachers through the school’s mission statement.
  • Hire a trained coach to show you take this seriously.

5. Lack of Collaboration

Schools with strong collaboration models see much higher satisfaction with day-to-day work. This is true in more than just education. A study by Globoforce found peer-to-peer recognition programs made companies 35 percent more likely to have less turnover.

How to keep them: Be intentional about building an encouraging environment for your teachers. Consider different approaches. For example, you can try introducing shared lesson planning. Perhaps you need to fit formal collaboration into the school’s schedule. More than anything, be sure you are promoting a positive culture built on peer-to-peer support and collaboration

The increase in teacher turnover is clearly about more than just money. Teachers crave celebration for their hard work, support, and opportunities for growth. If you can provide what they want, soon the quality teachers you have will begin to stick around.

About the Author

Darren Bounds is the CEO and Founder of Breezy HR, the applicant tracking system that keeps hiring human. As a passionate, design-minded technologist and serial entrepreneur, Darren has over a decade's experience building HR tech that puts people first.