Teaching may not be all about the greenbacks, but a person should be able to eat and live comfortably after spending years in college to the tune of multiple thousand dollars (or more). For the past decade or two, teacher retention has become a real problem for school districts, particularly those who are struggling with budgets, to begin with. So are salaries simply too low to keep teachers at the front of the class?
In the United States, the average starting salary for teachers (K12) is $36,141. Of course, this does mean there are areas where starting salaries are much lower ($27,274 in Montana) and higher ($51,539 DC). While this is not wealth building material, for the most part, it is not a bad place to start.
Part of the salary problem is a lack of regularly scheduled pay increases. Districts across the country are struggling to remain solvent, which means teacher salary increases or bonuses are often the last item on the agenda. Teachers often comment on the lack of progression in their income, and even when better policies are put in place to improve wages they often feel these will be temporary measures.
There is no easy answer to teacher salary issues, but the evidence clearly points to a correlation between stagnant salaries, lack of bonuses and teacher turn over rates. Until the broad scope of teacher salaries can be addressed, administrators can take steps to compensate for this deficit in other non-monetary ways.
- Give more freedom in the classroom- teachers who feel like they have some control over curriculum and style will enjoy more job satisfaction.
- Growth Potential- make a clear path for those who wish to move from the classroom to administrative offices.
- Management- assist in workload management so your teachers are not putting in 15 hour days plus weekend grading. Volunteer tutors, teachers aides etc Work life balance is priceless.
- Recognition- you do not know how far an ata-boy or ata-girl will go. Recognize your teachers by name in monthly newsletters or other publications.
Recruiting fresh teachers is always on the agenda, but if you want to break the cycle of attrition you may need to get creative with your retention plans. Money is a big answer as a good salary and bonuses definitely help build teacher loyalty, but don’t overlook the non-monetary options, in fact, they should be present regardless of base salary and bonuses.
Article provided by, K-12 Recruitment Group – a recruiting firm focused exclusively on filling K-12 administrative leadership positions throughout the USA
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