In a recent article, Indiana Public Schools continue to struggle with the reduction in teacher retention which results in depleting school resources and impacts student achievement. Student achievement will continue to plummet for years due to the perception that many students and parents will develop. Indiana Public Schools will benefit from empowering teachers and administrators to increase teacher retention by establishing cooperative relationships utilizing self-organization principles.
According to the article, CALL 6: Thousands of Indiana teachers leaving the classroom, 12,426 educators, or 18 percent of Indiana’s teachers and administrators, left their schools over a single school year period, according to the most recent data from the Indiana Department of Education.
Former Indian Public School personnel cited several challenges that contribute to teacher retention. One teacher left due to a lack of leadership opportunities, compensation, and time constraints associated with performing teacher duties. This teacher revealed that “on your days off, you’re grading, you’re making lessons, you’re trying to make things better for your students”.
Another teacher agreed that compensation was the primary contributor to the challenges associated with teacher retention. He stated “I left mostly because of earning potential. The earning potential had gone down because of cuts by the state to the rural schools. I could see the writing on the wall, and I didn’t believe it was going to change within the next 15 years.” He presently works as a construction worker.
Indian Public School administrators reported various results of strategies implemented to reduce teacher retention. One administrator revealed that “we’ve created leadership roles and have designed career paths for teachers so they have opportunities to take on leadership without becoming a principal” which included increasing teacher compensation in the range of $5,000 to $18,000 per year.
However, the Indiana School District that appears to have the most success has included a focus on relationships between teachers and administrators. The Hancock County Mount Vernon Community School Corporation Fortville Elementary School Principal Heather Noesges says she also leaves notes and treats in teachers’ mailboxes to celebrate a job well-done. “We like to keep them happy. We work together as a family.” said Noesges. Mount Vernon High School Principal Greg Roach uses reinforces the importance of relationship building by smiling at “them, and [asking] them how they’re doing. [He wants his teachers to] feel valued and supported maybe more than anything.” While the efforts of both administrators is plausible the eventual impact will continue to contribute to the challenges associated with teacher retention.
What is the process that will increase teacher retention?
The only process that will increase teacher retention involves improving workplace relationships between teachers and administrators that was developed by Margaret Wheatley. Margaret Wheatley developed the Self-Knowledge model that consist of three primary components. The three primary components are information, self-identity, and relationships.
Indiana Public Schools must first conduct an organizational analysis by utilizing both qualitative and quantitative processes. The qualitative analysis begins with interviewing administrators and teachers. Tape recording each interview will provide the best results. In this way, the information provided with be authentic.
Before recording the interview, it is best to develop an interview guide. The interview guide will ensure that the time spent in the interview process is not wasteful. It is best to formulate the interview questions using the Ladder of Inference Rungs outlined by Chris Argyris and expanded by Peter Senge.
The Ladder of Inference include questions that will provide:
- Observable data and experiences
- Selected data from observations
- Added cultural and personal meanings
- Assumptions made about cultural and personal beliefs
- Adopted beliefs
- Actions taken based on those beliefs
Once the collected documents, transcribed interviews, and observations have been coded the next step is to conduct a quantitative analysis based on the Systems Thinking analysis principles outlined by Peter Senge. Systems Thinking is the study of a system’s structure and behavior by analyzing and evaluating events, patterns and trends, developing a systemic structure, and developing mental models. Mental models evaluate the values, attitudes, and beliefs persons are thinking that cause a structure to exist. In this case, that structure revolves around increasing teacher retention.
The next step in the process is the self-identity phase. During this phase a small group of teachers and administrators need to assemble together and develop a shared vision. The shared vision will enable the small group of teachers and administrators to self organize around the theme of increasing teacher retention in the Indiana Public Schools.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
The Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President