The transition between the end of one school year and the beginning of another often begins weeks before the actual last day of school.
That’s when some teachers begin looking for another position at a different school or decide to leave teaching altogether. For administrators, teacher retention is one of the many concerns that come with the management of a school or district.
The reasons for these changes vary, but if you were to take an informal poll, you might discover that school climate plays an important role.
Why do teachers leave, and what can you do to improve teacher retention?
As your school races toward the finish line of another school year, teacher burnout is common.
Educators who began the year with a significant list of rules may feel frazzled trying to correct numerous infractions. Office referrals can skyrocket. Classroom management can feel like a dream at best, or a chore at worst. In short, as the school year winds down, everyone – from teachers to students – is done. Maxed out. And some educators have one foot out the door.
For schools that struggle with behavioral issues, however, the burnout can begin well before the midyear slump.
Stress Factors: Workload and Student Behavior
Numerous studies about teacher stress have pinpointed two major causes of stress for teachers: workload and student behavior. To a certain extent, there isn’t much to be done about the workload. Most states require between 175 and 180 days of school, and educators must meet certain goals within that timeframe. Teaching, grading, testing, and professional development days are all part of a typical school year, and even the most organized educator can fall behind.
As a stressor, student behavior can be much more variable and can add to the stress of the workload. Poor classroom management techniques, lack of clear expectations, zero-tolerance discipline policies, and other factors can result in negative behaviors from students. The reasons behind poor behavior, however, vary from student to student. What may look like a lack of respect for authority could actually be a developmental issue or the result of problems at home. Often, teachers don’t know the real reason for negative behavior – they only know that it disrupts the classroom and contributes to their stress levels.
What can schools do to lighten the load of these twin stressors? Focus on school climate.
The Role of School Climate
School climate is key in reducing teacher stress and improving teacher retention. Teachers want to feel respected and valued for their role in your school. While you may not be able to reduce the workload, you can create a better school climate for all.
By establishing schoolwide behavior expectations, which is an essential component of a PBIS initiative, schools can affect culture in a profound way. In turn, the culture of your school will create its climate. School culture is made up of four important factors:
- Physical safety
- Emotional support
- Academic support
- Social relationships
Schools that provide these four elements typically produce a climate that is beneficial for students and teachers alike. The blend of safety, support, and community is the foundation for improved teacher-student relationships, increased instructional time, and reduced office referrals and suspensions.
How do you create this positive climate?
PBIS for Positive School Climate
A PBIS initiative can lay the foundation for long-term impact on your school’s culture and climate. For some schools, PBIS can boost positive initiatives already in place. For others, it can be a radical shift in the way a school operates. But no matter where your school falls on this spectrum, PBIS can improve behavior schoolwide.
Teaching, encouraging and acknowledging positive behaviors is only one part of a PBIS initiative. The data generated by PBIS provides a wealth of information in terms of fidelity, office referrals, and student achievement. However, manual administration of a PBIS initiative can be inaccurate and cumbersome, affecting its impact.
PBIS Rewards can streamline and simplify a school’s PBIS initiative. As a digital token economy, PBIS Rewards puts your PBIS initiative at your staff’s fingertips. Teachers can acknowledge positive behaviors easily. Students can use their accurately tallied points to purchase items in your school store. Administrators can prepare a variety of reports using data recorded in real time. Parents can see at a glance the points their child has earned. PBIS teams can monitor individual and schoolwide progress. From the beginning of the school year to the very last day, PBIS Rewards can help improve your school’s climate.
Building a great staff takes time, and it’s difficult to do when your teachers get burned out and leave year after year. Establishing a positive school climate can help with teacher retention as well as reap numerous other benefits.
Let PBIS Rewards help you create a successful school climate!