It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract, motivate and retain qualified teachers in today's educational facilities. Studies suggest that in the next decade more than 2 million teachers will need to be hired to satisfy the nations educational and knowledge needs (Hirsch & Samuelsen, 2001). Despite the increased need for teachers, many administrators find they are having a difficult time not only attracting, but also motivating and retaining quality teachers once they are hired.
In fact the average life span of a quality teacher is less than six years according to one study (Weld, 1998). There are several studies that have reported an alarmingly high rate of dissatisfaction among quality teachers, a trend that often leads to teachers leaving the profession (Weld, 1998; Eichenger, 2000; Loeb & Stempien, 2002). Thus mangers must work to not only attract but also retain and inspire quality professionals if teaching is to remain at the highest levels of achievement.
The aim of this investigation is to study the methods needed to attract, retain and motivate quality teachers over the next decade as the demand for educators continues to rise. In particular the research will explore the managerial issues that are related to attraction, retention and motivation in an attempt to identify what specifically managers need to do to improve the outlook for teachers in at every level of education.
The state of the nation's educational system is one of crisis. A shortage exists in education. Many schools find themselves hard pressed to find quality teachers. When they do they often find that it is difficult to motivate and retain quality employees in the high stress world that is teaching. Management has to enact specific strategies that will not only serve to attract, but also retain and motivate quality leaders, in order to assure the integrity of the nation's educational system. A multi-faceted approach to recruitment, selection and retention is required if quality teachers are to continue to survive within the nations schools. These ideas are explored in more detail below.
Attraction and Recruitment
What does it take to attract good teachers? Hirsch & Samuelsen (2001) suggest that school districts need to build comprehensive recruitment strategies that focus on formalizing partnerships, improving communication and preparing teachers adequately for the challenges they will face in the classroom (p. 32).
In addition they suggest gathering more information on teacher supply and demand, as up until this point in time few states actually systematically collect and analyze data that might benefit them regarding the recruiting and hiring process (Hirsch & Samuelsen, 2001). Among the information teachers' should aspire to gather include information regarding estimates of teacher attrition rates and retirement, long-term student enrollment and the "number of teaching candidates coming from traditional and alternative sources" (Hirsch & Samuelsen, 2001: 32).
Many schools are finding it difficult to attract and retain teachers for the hardest school districts. Studies suggest that teachers need to be recruited that are highly qualified and prepared to address rigorous educational standards (Hirsch & Samuelsen, 2001). However, because the need for teachers is so great, many educational administrations report that it is difficult to find teachers that actually possess the knowledge and skills necessary to help and encourage students attain the highest possible achievement levels (Hirsch & Samuelsen, 2001).
Far too often teachers are encouraged to participate in accelerated programs that may put pressure on teachers to seek out licensing before they are adequately prepared to deal with the challenges they may face in the classroom.
What are the implications for management? Management has a responsibility to work with administrators and current teachers professionals to discover what challenges specifically teachers are facing, and what tools are necessary to overcome them. They must uncover the reasons that teachers are dissatisfied, and work to develop aggressive recruitment programs that seek out teachers in diverse communities, and that prepare them to face the challenges of the school environment in a warm and encouraging manner.
As part of their job responsibilities, managers have a duty to respect the teaching profession and seek out candidates that take pride in their work. Teachers must be encouraged to participate in comprehensive and complete educational programs that will prepare them adequately for the challenges they will face in and outside of the classroom.
Retention and Motivation
A survey of teachers in the 1994 National Center for Education Statistics study shows that common reasons teachers offer for learning the profession include: lack of influence over school policies and administrative procedures, (2) burnout, (3) sense of "collegial isolation and (4) sense of diminished professionalisms in teaching (Weld, 1998).
According to one chemistry teacher who left the profession after six years, "when reflective teachers turn their intellectual attention toward the school system, the frustration they feel can lead to disenchantment with the profession" (Weld, 1998:53).
Many teachers perceive that they have relatively little control over how a school is run and operated (Natale, 1993) which leads to dissatisfaction. Though there are many that might assume that a teacher's primary reasons for leaving have to do with their low salaries, surveys indicate that less than 10% of teachers generally cite poor salary as a reason for leaving the profession (Weld, 1998). In fact, starting salaries of some teachers including science teachers is generally more than others might enjoy in a traditional business profession.
Weld (1998) suggests that four key areas must be addressed to attract and retain high quality teachers. Among these areas include: (1) sense of isolation some teachers experience, (2) lack of reception to the ideas and innovations teacher offer the administration and (3) lack of recognition among good teachers as professionals (Weld, 1998: 53). Also in need of addressing include compensation practices.
Science teachers are most at risk for isolation in their field because they are not perceived as legitimate researchers or reform leaders, but rather thought of as "passive receivers of in-service monologues" (Weld, 1998). However a majority of teachers actually spend a decent amount of time conducting researchers.
With regard to retention and motivation, far too often 'teachers' are lumped into one general category without specification, when many teachers may prefer that their individual specialty and area of expertise are acknowledged and appreciated. As Weld (1998) points out this has certainly proven the case for science teachers.
However special education teachers are particularly vulnerable to losing well trained and high quality staff, in part because their contributions are not differentiated from those of general education teachers (Loeb & Stempien, 2002). In fact the academic preparation and continuing training required of special educations is more costly and very time consuming when compared with general education teachers; in addition it is often tremendously difficult to find replacements, thus the need for proper motivation and retention programs (Loeb & Stempien, 2002).
Studies suggest that many special education teachers as well as general education teachers are dissatisfied with their jobs, in particularly because their achievement are not recognized (Loeb & Stempien, 2002). Among the strategies that have been recommended for improving job satisfaction among all populations include innovative approaches to recruitment, job involvement and retention that focus on the specialties and expertise teachers bring into the school district (Loeb & Stempien, 2002).
Teachers working with special education students, particularly those with emotional problems generally have the highest attrition rates, and studies suggest that stress reduction techniques may benefit them in the classroom environment. Sutton & Huberty conducted a study in 1984 that suggests that among teachers, " a strong inverse relationship exists between job stress and satisfaction (Eichinger, 2000; Loeb & Stempien, 2002).
Heavy workloads and a perception that tasks need to be completed more quickly and more efficiently may also contribute to teacher stress and act as a de-motivator (Miller, et. al, 1999; Loeb & Stempien, 2002).
In service training that includes teaching of coping techniques and stress reduction methods may be helpful in motivating and retaining teachers that report a high level of job dissatisfaction and stress (Loeb & Stempien, 2002; Miller, et. al, 1999). In addition stress management techniques can help alleviate self depreciating thoughts, and more collaborative and "collegial dialogue" might improve teachers perceptions of job satisfaction (Loeb & Stempien, 2002). Studies suggest that problem solving approaches should be collaborative in manner, to help teachers deal with stress in a supportive environment (Loeb & Stempien, 2002).
Professional training should also prepare teachers for the challenges they might face in and outside of the classroom (Loeb & Stempien, 2002). Ax, Conderman & Stephens (2001) suggest that pre-service teacher preparation programs are more likely to help foster retention and motivation, because they will arm teachers with the techniques necessary to deal with the challenges that will face them in the classroom (Loeb & Stempien, 2002).
What are the implications for management? Managers must work to develop comprehensive stress management and support programs within their school districts. Teacher job satisfaction must be improved if teachers are to remain motivated and inspired. The information gathered from surveys and…