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Over 2,000 Educators Share How Administrators Can Best Retain & Support Them

Over 2,000 Educators Share How Administrators Can Best Retain & Support Them

Teacher retention is more important now than ever, as administrators across the country are doing everything they can to keep great teachers happy and a part of their school district. We wanted to see exactly what teachers had to say about what their administrators could do better and what potential benefits would make them stay in their current positions, so we ran an anonymous poll on our blog to gather feedback. Let’s take a dive into the data and see what our community of educators had to say.

The big takeaways from over 2,000 educators:

Question 1: What would make you stay in your current position longer?

 After all, many highly qualified teachers often leave positions in search of different opportunities, both inside and outside the world of education. This was a multiple-choice question, and educators could choose more than one option.

Let’s break down a few of these responses:

More pay

It’s no surprise that 36% of our respondents mentioned pay being the biggest benefit to keeping them in their position longer. While teaching can be rewarding in a variety of ways, at the end of the day, teachers are often underpaid for the work that they do and for the levels of education they hold. Recent teacher strikes are bringing teacher pay to the forefront of education policy in states across the nation. See how your state stacks up when it comes to teacher pay in this article from USA Today.

Improved school culture

The second-highest benefit that respondents chose was improved school culture. A whopping 21% of respondents said that an improved school culture would likely make them stay in their current position longer. The tone of any school is often set by the staff, both educators and administrators. And, according to one professor and researcher from the University of Minnesota, “a culture built on the shared belief that students are capable of achievement is crucial to strong academics, closing the achievement gap and creating educational equity.” It’s definitely no surprise that an improved school culture is on educators’ minds.

More support staff

At 16%, the third most popular benefit that would keep educators in their current position longer is more support staff. In many cases, teachers are often stretched thin in the classroom and feel like they’re taking on the job duties of multiple people. We noticed, in many cases, educators felt like they couldn’t handle everything that was expected of them in a classroom and often wanted other support staff they could rely on, such as classroom aides, paraprofessionals, school counselors, and ESL aides. According to research from NEA Today, education support professionals (ESP) can help impact student learning and performance when they are respected and included as workplace partners.

More autonomy in your role

In fourth place, 10% of our respondents noted that they seek more autonomy in their role. Often, educators have to respond to and change the way they teach due to state- or district-mandated curriculum, specific district initiatives, and the demands and needs of their ever-changing student population. Educators seek to have their administrators take more of a hands-off approach and let them manage their classrooms in a way that works best for their students. Many schools have trouble finding a good balance between teacher autonomy and collaboration, as outlined in a 2017 Education Week article.

More professional development

Last of the five benefits on our list, 9% of educators would like to see more opportunities for professional development (PD) available in their school. Professional development and continuing education opportunities are important to an educator’s long-term success. Educators have to stay up to date on the latest trends, issues, and topics in education, and without professional development, they can be ill-prepared to handle these situations as they arise. The National Education Association has a list of professional development resources to get you started on these opportunities.

Question 2: What could your administrators do to make your life easier (or better support you)?

This was a purely open-ended response format, as we wanted educators to tell us what exactly was on their mind!

The main categories we saw feedback fall into were: school culture, support for educators, and support for students, and there was a fourth category dedicated to people who already have an awesome administrator. Let’s dive deep into these categories and look at some of the specific feedback educators gave to us.

School Culture

The largest category of responses had to do with school culture. Many educators felt like their current school culture wasn’t strong or consistent and didn’t support growth in their teaching craft.

Educators want to feel appreciated and receive continual feedback on how to grow

  • “I would love continual feedback as a chance for continual improvement. Please don't wait until a review to say something was not liked or to give me feedback on what is being observed!”
  • “Give positive feedback, not just constructive criticism. Work with me to solve problems involving my students instead of doing it on their own.”
  • “A simple compliment to say, ‘Hey, you're doing a great job!’”
  • “Be supportive on all levels, and check in with your educators. Help come up with strategies to make the culture of the school more inviting, and have an open-door policy so that teachers can relieve stress from their day. Make us feel appreciated.”
Educators want their administrator to have a consistent vision and presence in school when it comes to fostering a positive culture

  • “Value diversity and individuality. Display self-confidence, and inspire it in others.”
  • “As a SPED teacher, I would like the SPED district administrators to be more involved in the role of SPED. Frequently, I feel that our student-specific issues/difficulties are brushed off and not fully addressed.”
  • “Visit the classroom more to see the culture and to let the students see them.”
  • “I have not had an administrator in my classroom this year. I have had limited interaction with either administrator. I am a part-time teacher, which may account for some of this, but it would be wonderful to have a real conversation about what I do.”

Educators want their administrators to have a clear and consistent communication of their expectations and goals for growth

  • “District administrators could reduce the amount of changes they make in the district to the curriculums at one time.  They could give us more time to teach and less of the latest trends.”
  • “Communication can always be improved upon. Empower all employees; don't micromanage them.”
  • “Stop changing things so much.  Try something and stick with it for a while instead of just adding more and more to our plates.”
  • “Value effective teachers by holding ineffective teachers accountable.”

Support for educators

Support for educators covers a variety of topics, but the main categories of responses we received had to do with educators desiring their feedback to be taken seriously, wanting more autonomy in their roles, and seeking more funding and resources to best support their teaching practice.

Educators want their administrators to value and sincerely consider their feedback

  • “Ask me about decisions that affect me. I know my materials and students better than they do. I know what works and what doesn't. When something doesn't work, I modify the activity and try again.”
  • “Ask our opinion about how things could be changed or what to keep.  They seem to make all the decisions here, and we have little or no say.”
  • “Listen and see what truly happens in our classrooms on a day-to-day basis. Allow us to be innovative and support that.”

Educators want their administrators to take a more hands-off approach when it comes to their teaching practice

  • “Allow the teachers to teach and not all be cookie-cutter teachers. We all know our students and should be allowed to meet the students' needs and help them grow and not fit them all into the same mold with the same expectations.”
  • “Teachers' lives would be much easier if the administration allowed us to do our jobs that we were schooled/trained to do.  The constant micromanaging and adding to what and how we do our jobs is counterproductive for our students' success.”
  • “Trust me in decisions for my students based on research, time, [and] methodology.”
  • “Give me some freedom to be a professional in my field. Support my program openly.”

Educators want more funding and resources

  • “Advocate for significant pay increase—having paid-time-off days versus sick days.”
  • “Support the library!  A budget to purchase books, library furniture that can be easily moved.”
  • “Providing us with the support we need to get the materials/supplies/and whatever else is needed to help our children succeed to the best of their abilities. Make sure ALL students’ needs are being met.” 
  • “I would like to be able to select resources that I can use with several whole classrooms that I work with and have the funding supplied for those resources (Study Island in particular).”

Support for students

In the next category, responses were grouped into feedback about educators wanting more support for their students. This included responses that had to do with educators wanting smaller class sizes, support for student mental health, more time in their days to work with students, consistent discipline procedures, and better working as a team with administrators when it came to meeting with parents.

Here are a few suggestions straight from educators on how administrators can better support educators and students.

  • “Provide more effective behavioral support and consequences, including mental health support for students.”
  • “Support to meet social-emotional learning needs for students.”
  • “Focus on student needs rather than test scores.”
  • “Provide practical supports that are tailored to the students we service. Provide proper support staff to work with families and students at more of a clinical level.”

Awesome administrators

One of the best parts about sifting through all of the data was seeing how many teachers loved their administrators and felt empowered by them. In fact, we received hundreds of comments from educators who said that their administration rocks and that they feel supported in what they do every day.

Here are a few great quotes from educators who have nothing but love for their administrators:

  • “My admin is already great! We are supported, appreciated, and acknowledged.”
  • “Currently, I am in a VERY GOOD learning environment and have an AMAZING admin staff.”
  • “My administrators are amazing. I honestly have been very fortunate. They listen when I voice concerns and address concerns that I bring to them.”

The nitty-gritty details

Wondering who, what, when, where, and how we collected the data? Find everything you need below.

This survey was run on our blog from April 18 to May 16, 2019. We used an online popup tool on our blog to create the poll, and all demographic data from respondents were self-identified.

Conclusion

So, there you have it—we’ve taken a look into what over 2,000 educators want from their administrators to feel better supported and to help keep them in their current role. One thing that was abundantly clear from the data is that your educators want to give you feedback and be a part of the process of improving your school/district.

Here's a list of our top resources to support your educators, based on the categories of responses we received: 

School culture: 

Support for educators: 

Support for students: 

Interested in how Edmentum solutions can help support your teachers and students? Check out our full list of products, and see why over 8,000 districts in the nation partner with us.

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Learn more from our network of educators and join us Thursday, July 25 at 10:00 AM CST for a live panel webinar where we will be talking to our Educator of the Year Award winners about how they’ve worked within their schools to drive engagement using technology.

brita.hammer@edmentum.com's picture
Brita Hammer received a B.S. in Marketing at North Dakota State University. She started with Edmentum in March 2018 and currently serves as a Marketing Associate. Brita is passionate about providing teachers resources to help their students achieve in and out of the classroom.

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