Principals Want Their Teachers To Stay. Collaborating Can Help Them Do It.

February 5, 2021

New Orleans’ principals recently came together to address one of their biggest challenges: keeping their great teachers on staff.

New Orleans, like many cities nationally, has significant teacher turnover; around ⅓ of teachers leave their roles each year. The most recent convening of New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO)’s Principal Collaborative therefore covered a critical topic for our principals: teacher retention.

NSNO launched the Principal Collaborative to help our city’s principals come together for learning, development, and collaboration.

This convening began with NSNO sharing the latest citywide data with principals. NSNO’s Director of Leadership Programming, Daniel Meekins, introduced findings about local teacher retention from TNTP’s Insight Survey, which gauges school climate and culture.

This year, over 70% of New Orleans schools, and about 2000 teachers, participated in the survey. TNTP found that the majority of teachers surveyed in New Orleans did want to stay on for the next year – in fact, at a slightly higher rate than last year.

Number of Years Teachers Plan to Stay

When they did want to leave, Meekins explained, they shared these reasons:

Meekins then handed the presentation over to Melanie Askew, Head of School at Élan Academy. Askew talked about her own methods for addressing teacher retention, which has been strong.

After Élan launched in 2017, they had 100% teacher retention. In 2019, it started to decline slightly, so they addressed staff culture in specific ways, and this year, even through COVID-19, all teachers have expressed their intention to return.

Askew spent time reviewing some of the ways they did so. These included:

After principals had a chance to ask Askew questions, they broke out into small groups to discuss what was working in terms of retention for their individual schools. They also discussed the challenges they were facing. Together, they brainstormed about ways to support their teachers and keep them motivated to stay. They asked one another questions, openly discussed shared difficulties, and offered up best practices to one another.

Finally, NSNO CEO Patrick Dobard closed the meeting by reminding the principals that they are in this together, and NSNO is in it with them, too.

“Having a family environment is important, and we are becoming a family within this group as well as the families within your school building…and I want to tell you all this: principals, we want you all to stay…we want y’all in your positions, so hold tight and stay strong.”

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