By Martin Silverman
In 1966, the phenomenal Motown trio The Supremes sang the classic song “You Keep Me Hangin' On." Though this song speaks of a couple with differing opinions on the state of their relationship, the song's message resonates today with educators as we consider how to keep our teachers hangin’ on to form long-lasting relationships with our students and school community.
Much has been reported recently about the Great Resignation in the American workforce. As school leaders, in whichever chair we sit, we need to consider the many ways we can generate a space where teachers not only stay but choose to stay.
Times change, but people's motivations rarely do. Teachers want to stay in a place where they feel connected, where their needs are met daily, and where the vision for their work is clear, reachable, and meaningful. Some of the steps are easy, and we can implement them immediately. Other measures take a bit more time and planning.
However, re-centering our thinking on teacher retention and shifting from my-way-or-the-highway thinking to a more inclusive mindset will reap incredible rewards as we retain staff, build deeper connections, and create more effective school communities!
What You Can Do Tomorrow
As you look for ways to retain your staff, there are actions you can start right away. One of the most important ways employees feel valued is when you consider that we spend many of our waking hours at work.
There was a movement back in the mid-nineteenth century in Great Britain to balance adult lives by suggesting that in a day, we spend eight hours working, eight hours in recreation, and eight hours resting. Most of us would love that balance, but we are often way out of it in actuality.
A school leader can help employees by understanding that we can use the time to the advantage of the employee, which also helps our employees preserve their family time. Here are a few examples:
Permit Yourself to Build Capacity
If you are a parent, you know one of the greatest joys is when your child learns to walk. It's often difficult to watch them approximate steps, uneasy and clumsy at first and then more confident as they adjust and practice. We don't take those first steps for them (though we probably wish we could).
Having the autonomy to try is valuable when creating a stable and effective workplace. When building stable school communities, it's so important for us to allow our employees the space to make decisions and try new things. Here are some ways you can do this:
Making the effort to take effective actions will help us retain our teachers. We can keep them hangin’ on if we take those positive steps for deeper connections to our schools.