Principals whose schools do a good job of holding onto teachers share some common traits and strategies, according to a local report focusing on a North Carolina district. Though small in scope, the report adds to the growing discussion of the connection between school leadership and teacher retention.
Concerned about the high rate of teacher turnover in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, the Charlotte Advocates for Education, a nonprofit civic organization, began looking into the relationship between principals, school culture, and teacher retention. The group identified 20 principals in the district whose schools had high teacher-retention rates (with an emphasis on high-needs schools) and sought to learn more about them through a written survey and a focus-group discussion.
From the sample information gathered--16 of the principals returned the survey and eight participated in the focus group--the CAE identified a number of characteristics and strategies shared by its selected school leaders:
The CAE’s report advised the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district to take such themes into account in preparing and recruiting principals, reiterating that effective principals “are key to success in our schools and to increasing teacher retention.”
While far from comprehensive, the CAE’s report is echoed in various ways by other recent research and commentary. For example, an annual survey report on teaching issued last month by MetLife Insurance Co. said that for many teachers, career satisfaction appears to be linked to their relationship with their principal.
“Overall, three-quarters (74%) of teachers who are satisfied with their jobs are also satisfied with their relationship with their principal,” the MetLife report found. “In contrast, only half (49%) of dissatisfied teachers feel this way.” The report added that the teachers who are dissatisfied with their careers are less likely to have regular contact with their principals.