Donovan Group Insights

How to Recruit and Retain Effectively

District leaders have a vision of what success looks like in their schools. To make that vision a reality, they must find the right educators who will dedicate themselves to the students and broader school community. External marketing efforts can put your district on the map and show recruits what makes it different than the others.

On the flip side, it’s equally important for districts to keep the quality teachers they attract. Recruitment is only half the equation. Retaining talented educators is what will increase student success and establish a positive reputation for your school district. Below you’ll gain further insight on how to recruit and retain teachers who care deeply about public education.

Quality education starts with quality recruitment

The recruitment process influences students’ success in the classroom. For this reason, school districts must think carefully about the types of candidates they want to attract. It’s better to assemble a handful of highly-qualified candidates than to simply attract as many candidates as possible. The educator who fills a vacant position could leave a lasting impact on many students’ lives. The right candidate can help students look back on their public education years in a positive light.

Educators also help shape your school district’s culture. As you advertise open teaching positions, the marketing messages should attract candidates who embody your district’s values and passion for public education. Teachers represent their schools, so they play a huge part in defining stakeholders’ perceptions of your school district. By investing in the recruitment process, you can be sure the right people continue your district’s legacy.

Effective ways to recruit talented educators

Reflect on how your school district communicates with prospective hires. What you say and how you say it determines which educators are drawn to your district. A solid recruiting campaign can help you attract talent that’s a good fit for students and the larger school community.

Use the following tips to advise your district’s recruitment efforts:

  • Highlight what makes your district special: Job descriptions are more or less the same across school districts. Educators understand the roles they’re applying for and the prerequisites associated with each position. If a candidate receives several job offers, they’ll probably pick the district that made the biggest impression. Your recruitment efforts should emphasize the special attributes that candidates won’t find in any other school district. Show why your community is different, and you’re likely to receive more applications.
  • Foster a sense of community: Educators want to work in a supportive environment where students, teachers, and parents feel connected with one another. Give prospective hires a taste of what it’s like to be part of the community by strengthening your district’s online presence. Social media updates are a great way to share stories, inspirational videos, and advice for teachers and students. These stakeholder interactions paint a clear picture of your school district’s culture and how educators fit into it.
  • Communicate the value of your schools: Educators go into this profession because they want to make a positive impact on the younger generations. As a result, they’re more likely to join school districts where they feel appreciated for their efforts. Emphasizing the value your schools bring to students’ lives will make candidates want to be part of that community. Your district can illustrate its value through videos of alumni describing how specific teachers inspired them to achieve greatness.

The role of retention in student success

In addition to recruitment, school districts should put just as much stock in their retention efforts. Teachers who stick around can positively influence student experiences in public education. Studies have found that students are less likely to drop out of school districts with low turnover rates. Tenured educators give students the stability they need to focus on their schoolwork. In other words, supporting teachers sets up students for success.

High retention rates increase student success because tenured teachers are passionate about their roles in the school community. That passion motivates educators to help students perform well in the classroom. Educators put more of their energy into teaching when the school district promotes a fun, supportive work environment. High retention is the outcome when district leaders focus on boosting morale and helping teachers help students.

How to retain educators in your schools

To help their school communities thrive, district leaders need to think beyond finding the right educators. Once the right educators are in place, district leaders must put in the work to ensure these teachers stay for the long term. The good impression that encouraged recruits to apply in the first place should carry far into their careers at a school district.

Here’s how school districts can boost their teacher retention rates:

  • Check in with teachers: High retention rates require district leaders to communicate internally with teachers on a regular basis. Two-way communication helps district leaders understand how teachers feel about their jobs, both individually and as a group. District leaders should conduct periodic check-ins to learn what’s working and what needs improvement. Surveys and one-on-one meetings help teachers feel heard and show the district cares about their feedback.
  • Provide better salaries and benefits: Teachers are more likely to stay when they’re appropriately compensated for all their hard work. Better salaries and a full package of benefits can reduce the number of teachers who leave education in pursuit of higher-paying professions. To pay teachers what they deserve, school districts will have to dedicate more of their budgets towards teacher salaries. School districts can more easily afford these salary increases by leveraging fundraisers to pay for classroom supplies.
  • Connect new teachers with mentors: Recruits can transition more seamlessly into their new roles by joining a mentorship program. District leaders should promote mentorship programs in their schools because they’re valuable support networks that guide new teachers through the onboarding process. Tenured teachers can show the ropes to new recruits and answer any questions they might have along the way.

District leaders must stay in touch with the teachers in their schools. Recruitment and retention efforts work in tandem to place talented educators in classrooms and boost students’ academic performance. Open and honest communication remains a top priority from the moment leaders meet a new recruit to celebrating their 20 years in the school district. An investment in good teachers is an investment in the broader school community, and one district leaders should prioritize.

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