Sunday, November 18, 2012

Teacher careers and principals' impact

The Atlantic Monthly shares a new study on why so many teachers leave the profession:
The researchers found that the most important factor influencing commitment was the beginning teacher's perception of how well the school principal worked with the teaching staff as a whole. This was a stronger factor than the adequacy of resources, the extent of a teacher's administrative duties, the manageability of his or her workload, or the frequency of professional-development opportunities.
This finding matches wider business research on employee retention as well as an earlier Massachusetts study of teachers.  That part, and the other study findings strike me as very plausible.

When the article turns to solutions, I'm less impressed.  Peter Youngs, one of the researchers, is quoted as proposing that principals should spend more time studying interpersonal skills in university courses and professional development sessions.  Respectfully, I'd like to suggest that if the most important factor in whether teachers are willing to stay in their jobs is the principal, the most important factor in whether principals can do their jobs well enough for teachers to stay is sure to be superintendents.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not in agreement that principals need to take more courses on interpersonal skills. What principals need to do is meet with some of their most expert teachers and ask them "What can I do to help you be more successful? How can I help our school serve students at the highest level?" Teachers want their students to be successful and many times know what is needed. Talk to them and work with them as a team. They can also help you improve some of the weak links.


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