School leadership is one of the most important factors that promote an appropriate organization of work in schools of different types (Ghamrawi & Jammal, 2013). Branch, Hanushek, and Rivkin (2013) admit that a good principal is a key to the success of the whole school, especially after No Child Left Behind Act was taken in 2001.
The main principal’s task is to think over the best methods of teaching and cooperation that takes place between different teachers and teachers and students. Unfortunately, the consequences of the NCLB make teachers work more, focus on preparing students in mathematics and reading, and neglect personal needs and interests (Andreas, 2012).
Schneider (2012) even introduces the term “demoralization among passionate and creative teachers” (p.11) to describe the entire feelings of teachers, who face such unpredictable work load.
Teachers just lose their ways in schools. They are confused with the work they have to perform; this is why they are in need of a good professional leader, who is able to consider teachers’ needs, working conditions, students’ intentions, administrative issues, etc., explain novice teachers their duties, and define all the roles (Solomon, 2014).
In other words, Grissom (2012) insists on “getting the best principals into the most challenging school environments” to achieve “lowering perpetually high teacher turnover rates in those schools” (p.1).
As it may be observed, the connection between school leadership and teacher turnover is obvious. It turns out to be hard to analyze and diminish the level of turnover without regarding the role of principals in schools.
For example, Darling-Hammond and Ducommun (2011) believe that the absence of a good systematic approach to the cooperation between school leaders and teachers is one of the main problems for the citizens of the USA and many other countries. Principals fail to analyze the reasons of why teachers may want to leave schools. It means that the representatives of school leadership have much work to be done to improve the situation and achieve the required portion of success in all levels of education.
Teacher Turnover and the Reasons of why Teachers Leave Schools
The results of the RELI research (2013) show that about one out of five teachers change their jobs each year. The reasons why people make such decisions vary considerably. Various interviews and multiple online tests help to learn that teachers may want to leave schools because of several personal reasons as well as dissatisfaction with working conditions, salary, responsibilities, relations with colleagues, etc. (Houston, 2009).
In their turn, Duze and Rosemary (2013) say one simple truth that “understanding why teachers leave is the first step in getting them to stay” (p. 146). There is nothing left to say. It is hard to understand the role of school leadership in teacher turnover in case the reasons why teachers want to leave schools are not defined.
Many researchers make numerous attempts to understand the reasons for teacher turnover around the whole globe. For example, Americans truly believe that the level of education, as well as the quality of teachers’ work, depends on the work of a school principal (Rich, 2013).
However, the investigations offered by Branch, Hanushek, and Rivkin (2012) present quite the opposite information that many teachers are eager to change schools because of personal reasons (like family problems, change of residence, marriage, etc.) but not because of the principals and the way of how they perform their duties. Another interesting reason for teacher turnover is the way of how teachers perceive two types of cohesion: social and social-organizational (Fuller, Waite, Miller, & Irribarra, 2013).
The relations between teachers play an important role in the development of education. On the one hand, if teachers fail to divide their duties, offer in time support to each other, or pay enough attention to a problematic student, the quality of work gets lower. On the other hand, if teachers complete all their duties in a proper way, they may want to admit that such kind of work load is too much for them and think about the change of work again.
Pros and Cons of Teacher Turnover
As a rule, people believe that teacher turnover is something wrong or bad that has to be overcome or removed. However, the investigations of people from different parts of the world show that teacher turnover with a proper principal’s intervention may have several positive effects (Allen, Burgess, & Mayo, 2012; Machumu & Kaitila, 2014; Halstead, 2013).
For example, the representatives of the Tanzanian system of education admit that teacher turnover may play a positive role. Tanzanian schools prefer a democratic leadership style that is characterized by several positive and negative aspects.
If a principal creates some kind of reign of terror or roars with displeasure, makes teachers suffer from low salaries, lack of psychological services for students and teachers, and absence of social services, teacher turnover is a good chance to try some new approaches, find true professionals with new ideas, and organize interesting common activities to engage students into the educative process (Machumu & Kaitila, 2014).
Almost the same position is presented by Halstead. She says that too little turnover may be inefficient for any organization, this is why appropriately offered turnover may “promote good morale by bringing in new people and new ideas” (Halstead, 2013, p. 5). However, Downey (2013) does not want to support the same ideas and explains that seasoned teachers-veterans are more appropriate to educate children.
Of course, students find new young teachers more interesting as they fail to gain control over a class all the time and solve some slight problem within a short period. Still, it is not always correct to follow students’ preferences only but try to focus on the effectiveness of the educational process that is more inherent for teachers with 7-10 years of experience.
What Can Leaders Do to Reduce Teacher Turnover?
The results of the literature review presented help to understand that school leadership plays a considerable role in teaching careers, the level of teacher turnover, and the quality of education offered to students. Teachers are always in need of some assistance and support at work.
Even if they do not want to admit that some portion of help is required, it is still possible to think about some ways to improve the situation and make it more favorable for students and teachers. Moore (2012) declares that many teachers are dissatisfied with the school environment and social and ecological perspectives in particular.
Teachers prefer to change the place of work instead of waiting for some improvements. What they want is to be provided with a chance to make decisions, gain control over the situation in classes, and divide their duties independently. Teachers truly believe that more control may bring more satisfaction with their work.
Professional principals should take this point into consideration and try to offer the required working conditions. Still, principals should never forget that their main task is to lead the chosen organization. Even if teachers are provided with the demanded portion of the control, the last word should be said by a principal in order not to lose the leading position.
Another important role of school leaders is to work with students and consider their personal needs and educational demands. Ferlazzo (2014) shares an interesting position that true principals and teachers should never ask “how” students act out but try to realize “why” students act out.
The point is that students’ misbehavior promotes many teachers leave their positions. This is why it is very important to analyze students’ behavior, predict their decisions, and take their interests into consideration. When students are engaged in the educational process, teachers face fewer problems completing their duties, and the level of teacher turnover is decreased.
Principals should also understand that they must hire professional teachers, provide them with a good start, and offer interesting programs to turn the chosen school into a genuine learning organization (Carroll, 2011).
Baeder (2013) writes that school leaders have all possibilities to ensure teachers with the required portion of support and respect – and these are the most important factors new teachers pay their attention to. This is why it is never too late to make new adjustments, improve working conditions, and provide high quality mentoring for all teachers, who ask for it (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2011).
Allen, R., Burgess, S., & Mayo, J. (2012). The teacher labor market, teacher turnover and disadvantaged schools: New evidence for England. Retrieved from http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/cmpo/migrated/documents/wp294.pdf
Alliance for Excellent Education. (2011). A system approach to building a world-class teaching profession: The role of induction. Retrieved from http://www.nnstoy.org/download/continuums-of-professional-practice/Teacher%20Induction%20-%20Haynes.pdf
Andreas, S. (2012). International summit on the teaching profession preparing teachers and developing school leaders for the 21st century: Lessons from around the world. Paris: OECD Publishing.
Baeder, J. (2013). How principals can reduce teacher turnover. Retrieved from http://www.eduleadership.org/how-principals-can-reduce-teacher-turnover/
Branch, G. F., Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2013). School leaders matter. Education Next, 13(1), 62-69.
Branch, G. F., Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2012). Estimating the effect of leaders on public sector productivity: The case of school principals. Retrieved from http://www.caldercenter.org/sites/default/files/CALDER-Working-Paper-32_FINAL.pdf
Carroll, T. G. (2011). The high cost of teacher turnover. Retrieved from http://chalkboardproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/ment-13.pdf
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Duze, C. O., & Rosemary, O. (2013). Retaining and developing quality teachers: Critical issues for administrators in Nigeria secondary schools. Journal of Sociological Research, 4(1), 145-161.
Ferlazzo, L. (2014). Response: Ways to reduce teacher attrition in high poverty schools. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2014/03/response_ways_to_reduce_teacher_attrition_in_high_poverty_schools.html
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Grissom, J. A. (2012). Can good principals keep good teachers in disadvantaged schools? Linking principal effectiveness to teacher satisfaction and turnover in hard-to-staff environments. Retrieved from https://my.vanderbilt.edu/jasongrissom/files/2012/05/principal-effectiveness-TCR-version.pdf
Halstead, E. O. (2013). Teacher satisfaction and turnover in WCPSS. Retrieved from http://www.wcpss.net/results/reports/2013/teach-turnover.pdf
Houston, F. J. (2009). Teacher perceptions of the factors which influence teacher attrition in three elementary schools in a metropolitan Atlanta school system. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.auctr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1712&context=dissertations
Machumu, H. J., & Kaitila, M. M. (2014). Influence of leadership styles on teachers’ job satisfaction: A case of selected primary schools in Songea and Morogoro districts, Tanzania. International Journal of Educational
Moore, C. M. (2012). The role of school environment in teacher dissatisfaction among U.S. public schools. Retrieved from http://sgo.sagepub.com/content/spsgo/2/1/2158244012438888.full.pdf
RELNI. (2013). Regional educational laboratory at EDC. Retrieved from http://www.relnei.org/wp-content/referencedocs/RELNEI_RD0128_Administrator_Turnover.pdf
Rich, M. (2013). At charter schools, short career by choice. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/27/education/at-charter-schools-short-careers-by-choice.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Schneider, K. (2012). How teacher retention has been impacted by increased mandates and demands. Retrieved from http://coe.unomaha.edu/moec/briefs/EDAD9550schneider.pdf
Solomon, M. (2014). Teachers as leaders. Retrieved from http://www.rethinkingschools.org/restrict.asp?path=archive/14_03/lead143.shtml