Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Will I see you in 5 years...?

With all the educational reform talk, there is one particular issue that doesn't get as much attention as others. I have heard about this being an issue at the administrative level, but I have not heard too much talk about it at the teacher level.

Imagine for a moment that you and your family have a favorite restaurant with fantastic food and service. Lately, however the service and food have been sub-par at best. You begin to start thinking about the reasons for the decline in service and taste. Without knowing too much about the situation, I would be willing to bet that the restaurant has had some recent personnel changes, and turnover has been on the rise.

Mark Wagoner
Just like in any organization or system, when there are people constantly coming and going it can be difficult to provide a constant and steady level of service. Though I don't operate any organizations, I believe that personnel and turnover issues are one of the most important factors in the overall effectiveness of an organization...

There is a crisis we are facing in schools, and it's not just limited to the drop out rate of high school students. Almost 50% of teachers entering the educational profession will leave within the first 5 years. I personally don't see this number being accurate in my particular high school, but if this number is accurate on a larger scale, then there is a monumental problem that we have got to address if we want to improve education.

If Educators are cycling in and out of schools at close to a 50% rate every 5 years, how can we possibly formulate strong relationships with our colleagues? How can we develop a true district or building culture that represents all of the stakeholders? How can we constantly provide a high level of education for our students when half of us won't be there at the end of 5 years?

We have all heard of Educators leaving education because of increased accountability, difficult working conditions, low pay, layoffs, too much paperwork, and many other reasons. What we don't hear very often is what districts and schools are doing to keep Educators in the profession of education. This is where the power of the PLN comes in... :)    

Please continue this discussion by sharing what your school or district is doing to keep new Educators in the profession of education. In particular, what programs or initiatives are being implemented to help ease the transition through an Educator's first 5 years of teaching. Also, what suggestions do you have for anyone wanting to establish an Educator growth and development plan focusing on teacher retention?

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read and comment on this pressing issue.

Additional reading: Public Education Faces a Crisis in Teacher Retention