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.. Auburn Education Researcher Offers Solution to Nation's Teacher Retention, Shortage Problem

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America’s education system is at risk of teacher shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Teacher retention is a problem on the K-12 front due to low job satisfaction and high turnover of educators to other fields.Auburn University Faculty of Education Assistant professor Andrew Pendra When David Marshall conducted extensive research on this issue and found ways for schools and administrators to address teacher retention and shortages. Below, they address the current situation and offer research-based suggestions on how the country’s education system can stem the tide of teachers leaving the industry.

Teacher retention and teacher shortages have been a problem in the country for years. This problem has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationwide and statewide, how many teachers are planning to quit their jobs?

Pendra: While numbers vary widely by location, about 8% of teachers leave the profession each year in Alabama. This is about the same as the national average. Before the pandemic, he said in 2019, about 34% of teachers nationwide were thinking of leaving their profession in the next few years. After the pandemic, that number jumped to 54% for him. Alabama is no exception.

In a recent survey by the Alabama Department of Education, 38% of teachers said they planned to retire within the next five years, and another 17% said they were considering retirement. More than half (55%) of teachers report that they are considering leaving the profession. In addition to this, over the past decade, she has seen a 40% decline in the number of students enrolled in teacher education programs, making it increasingly difficult to find a successor.

Marshall: Teacher retention is a challenge that has existed for years. Even before the pandemic, half of all teachers quit the profession within her five years, and 6-8% quit teaching each year. But these numbers are exacerbated by the challenges associated with the pandemic. When my colleagues and I conducted her January 2021 nationwide survey, we found that her 15.5% of surveyed teachers plan to leave the classroom at the end of her 2020-21 school year. rice field.

In May of this year, Google conducted another national survey of 830 teachers and found that nearly three-quarters (76.4%) of teachers are considering quitting their jobs during the 2021-22 school year. I understand. Even more concerning, 57.6% of the teachers who participated in our survey shared that they had seen job postings for non-teaching jobs, and 22.4% had actually applied for non-teaching jobs. So while the general trend has existed for some time, there is evidence to suggest that this is getting worse.

What does your research show about the main reasons teachers are dissatisfied and quit their teaching careers?

Pendra: After speaking with many teachers and sending out surveys to state representatives, a few things became clear. I’m here. For example, she is expected to provide personal care to each student at once while being responsible for the test scores of her 30 students in the class. Second, we suffer from the feeling that paperwork and test scores are treated as if they are more important than positive interactions, emotional well-being, and meaningful relationships.

All of this combines to mean that the realities of the profession undermine meaningful learning experiences and the social and emotional needs of children. That’s not to say there aren’t any. They feel that real help is not recognized in today’s environment.

Marshall: Teaching was a tough job before the pandemic, but the past two years have been even tougher. Teachers have been imposed additional demands, often without additional professional time to meet them. Asked to teach, students were asked to learn in ways they were not accustomed to. Teachers had to move all classes online. When schools began reopening for in-person learning in the 2020-21 school year, teachers were often tasked with teaching students on campus and those attending remotely. Maintaining an educational environment. Fortunately, many schools provided teachers with additional time for professional planning to account for these increased expectations.

This past school year (2021-22), most schools have returned to “almost normal” routines, but without the additional planning time given in previous years. The seeds continued to spread, often leading teachers to abandon scheduling time and cover their peers’ classes when they had to take time off from work. In short, the expectations placed on teachers have continued to shift over the past year, often forcing teachers to take on higher workloads and more complex tasks (e.g., teaching remote and face-to-face students simultaneously). and not much professional time was given. for them to complete their professional work.

What can be done to reverse this trend and change the way educators think about staying in the profession?

Pendra: All this may sound pretty negative, but there is actually a ray of hope. Rather than asking for more pay or more time off, most teachers simply feel that their work is valued and receive support and recognition for their efforts to foster meaningful student interactions. This means that efforts to reduce teacher turnover need not be costly, do not require Congressional action, and can begin immediately.

To reduce turnover and dissatisfaction, school principals and leaders can work to ensure a supportive, respectful and relationship-oriented school environment. Parents and community members can show support. Salaries and resources are certainly part of the equation, but this research shows that sometimes kind words alone can keep teachers from leaving.

Marshall: Fortunately, we’ve learned a few things that help mitigate some of the additional challenges placed on teachers over the past two years. Findings from a May survey and a focus group survey of teachers conducted this fall show that morale levels are higher among teachers who have higher levels of autonomy in the classroom and those who report higher support from school leaders. suggests high. Job satisfaction, lower levels of burnout, and more likely to stay in the profession. The good news is that both things are within school control.

In our focus group, we spoke with several teachers. They shared that if the principal had not been so supportive, they would have quit the profession altogether. It was very important to have a principal willing to deal with it.

Reflecting on Dr. Pendola’s findings, when teachers were asked what it takes to be successful, their immediate response was not about salary, but about respect and support from peers and school leaders, and workload. It was delivered with reasonable expectations. Professional time to work. School leaders who provide teachers with a supportive work environment with less microcontrol are likely to have less problems with teacher turnover than those who do not.

What can a unit like Auburn’s School of Education do to prepare those studying to become teachers in the world that awaits after graduation?

Pendra: Teaching is still a great career. The reason most people end up quitting their jobs is because they don’t find it meaningful or rewarding. However, the vast majority of teachers find purpose and value in their work. In that sense, I think it’s important to emphasize that the teaching profession is not only important and noble, but also a very fulfilling career. Money can’t buy that.

Auburn has already done a great job of preparing future teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. , and we strive to ensure that school leaders understand that they know the importance of emphasizing relationships and respect. is a reminder that aspiring teachers care and protect the relationships, purpose, and personal satisfaction that comes from preparing the next generation.

Marshall: The Faculty of Education already does a good job of providing students with multiple opportunities to gain classroom experience before graduating and getting their own classroom. The best thing we can do for our students is: To continue to ensure that technology is successfully integrated into instruction and that students are ready to give them hands-on experience in school. It will also help to directly address issues that have led to teacher frustration during preparation and provide pre-service teachers with tools to navigate some of the challenges that have emerged during and after the pandemic.