You just hired the perfect addition to your preschool's early childhood team. Congratulations! Now, an equally important challenge awaits: retaining that teacher for years to come.
Teacher turnover rates have been on the rise in recent years, costing schools billions of dollars each year.
Reducing teacher turnover saves your school money, your staff time, and helps maintain a healthy, stable learning environment for your students.
By cultivating a strong onboarding program, providing professional growth opportunities, and celebrating milestones, you'll help your school to invest personally and professionally in your ECE teachers, in turn increasing teacher retention rates and growing your early childhood program enrollment.
How to retain top ECE teachers at your preschool
#1: Comprehensive onboarding and orientation
Onboarding is proven to be a successful teacher retention strategy, especially for ECE teachers at preschools and early learning centers. Research has proven that a strong onboarding process and integration can increase retention by up to 82%.
If you're looking to improve your teacher onboarding process, we recommend starting with the 5 C's of onboarding: compliance, clarification, culture, connection and check back. Plus, remember to facilitate a positive, inspiring and uplifting environment as you build your new hire's training schedule.
#2: Encourage professional growth and development
ECE teachers are more likely to stay committed to a school that invests in their professional growth. Providing professional development opportunities not only helps increase your ECE teacher retention rate, it also keeps your teachers up-to-date on the latest best practices in the industry.
Practical ways to encourage ECE teachers' professional development include offering ongoing opportunities for workshops, seminars, and training sessions that align with their career goals and interests.
#3: Foster a collaborative work culture
A positive work culture is instrumental in ECE teacher retention. We recommend asking yourself how you can create a sense of belonging for your new hires, and get them invested in your school's mission and goals. If you're struggling to create the work environment your school is striving for, try these tips. Don't be afraid to seek help from other key team members! Remember, culture isn't created in a vacuum, and it's OK and necessary to unite the broader team ton your mission bring your school's culture goals to life.
#4: Recognize and celebrate achievements
Acknowledging teachers' efforts and accomplishments is an essential strategy to improving ECE teacher retention. You may need to reimagine what 'celebration' looks like for your school, but celebrating (in whatever way works for your team!) milestones, classroom achievements, and 'little' wins often is a huge boost for team morale. You can try implementing recognition programs, such as "Teacher of the Month" or "Innovator of the Year," to showcase contributions. Not to mention, celebrating wins can lead to more wins for your school.
#5: Work-life balance and flexibility
Strive to promote a healthy work-life balance for your teaching staff. Teaching can be demanding, and educators often invest a significant amount of time and energy in their students. Offer flexible scheduling when possible, and encourage teachers to take personal days to recharge. Providing a balance between professional responsibilities and personal life reduces burnout and increases job satisfaction. It can be a challenge to put into practice, so try out these practical ways to get started with work-life boundaries.
#6: Provide opportunities for leadership
Encourage and support ECE teachers who express an interest in leadership roles and educate other teachers on what those leadership responsibilities look like. You can offer mentorship programs, coaching sessions, or workshops that develop necessary leadership skills in the ECE space. Empowering teachers to take on leadership responsibilities not only increases retention, but also fosters a sense of pride and fulfillment in their work and your school's goals.
#7: Involve teachers in decision-making
Including teachers in decision-making processes can create a sense of accountability and align your ECE teachers with your school's high-level vision. Seek their input on curriculum development, school policies, and resource allocation. When teachers feel heard and involved, they become more invested in the school's success and are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Plus, teachers are on the frontlines, and often have valuable perspective when implementing changes to your school's operational processes.
#8: Offer competitive compensation and benefits
Providing competitive compensation and attractive benefits is a powerful incentive for ECE teacher retention and a necessary component to your school's long-term success. Conduct market research to ensure your school's salary scale aligns with industry standards. Consider offering benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, professional development stipends, and tuition assistance for advanced degrees. A comprehensive benefits package demonstrates your commitment to supporting teachers' overall well-being.
#9: Conduct stay interviews
Conducting stay interviews with current ECE teachers can provide valuable insights into their experiences, needs, and motivations. Take the time to sit down with teachers individually to discuss their job satisfaction, areas of improvement, and any concerns they may have. These conversations demonstrate your genuine interest in their well-being and offer an opportunity to address issues proactively, in turn allowing you to hold on to key ECE teachers longer.