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How can SLT overcome millennial teachers’ ‘3 year itch’?

A fifth of all teachers who quit the profession are only in their third year of teaching. Here’s how school leaders can retain their millennial staff.

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Government figures published in October 2016 indicated that nearly a third of teachers who began work in British state schools in 2010 were no longer teaching five years later. What’s more, new research also shows that many millennials get the urge to up-sticks and completely change their careers after only three years. Of those teachers who quit the profession, over 20% were in their third year.

Crucially, while some teachers are simply getting better offers from other sectors, for others, issues such as an overwhelming workload and too much pressure for their students to perform were the driving factors.

So, what can SLTs do to improve the teaching experience and retain millennial teachers?

Address the work/life balance

According to the latest findings, 75% of teachers who left the profession did so because they wanted a better work/life balance. And, when looking at what millennials want from a job, how a profession will impact their personal life is regularly cited as a key priority.

Of course, nobody working in education expects the 9-5, but fewer than 10% of teachers said their workload is manageable in the latest State of Technology report. If SLTs are serious about retaining millennial teachers, providing them with the necessary tools and support to help them become more content at work, and at home, must be a priority.

Ways to do this include:

  • Investing in the technology teachers need to do their jobs. Used in the right way, this will help to reduce the admin burden, and therefore the time required to get everything done
  • Removing the culture of ‘presenteeism’. This describes the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required and can cause productivity loss, poor health, exhaustion
  • Helping to reduce the burden of marking. For example, by modernising your school’s marking practices and moving away from deep-marking, which can be hugely time-consuming.

Offer more flexible working

Millennials are the first generation with access to technology that enables them to work remotely seamlessly and effectively. But compared to other sectors, education is behind on flexible working.

While physically teaching in the classroom is not up for debate, SLTs must address this issue if we are to find ways to keep teachers in the profession.

Investing in modern technology that allows teachers to spend more time at home is an excellent place to start.

Help teachers to improve results

In our State of Education in Technology Report, we identified that results and attainment are key goals for SLTs. But, when asked why they left the profession, 60% of former teachers said that they felt too much pressure for their students to perform well.

So, as well as looking into the tools that can help teachers to reduce their workload, schools should also be investing in educational technology that makes it easier for teachers to help pupils to succeed.

For example, interactive panels used in conjunction with real-time assessment tools such as class polls, end of lesson surveys and quizzes are incredibly effective in raising student attainment, increasing positive student outcomes, and improving their ability to learn new topics.

Create a supportive teaching culture

School culture is essential when it comes to keeping your teachers happy, and, for millennials, in particular, workplace culture is key. But, despite what we might read, it’s not ping pong tables or pizza Fridays that keep millennials in a job. Instead, they want a positive environment where they can contribute and thrive.

Ways SLTs can help to build a positive school culture include:

  • Welcoming teachers’ ideas rather than simply telling them how things should be done
  • Proactively encouraging feedback and asking teachers for input into school decisions to give them ownership of aspects of the change process
  • Making teachers feel like an asset by recognising good work and telling them how valued they are
  • Providing opportunities to grow and learn (training, mentorship, leadership opportunities, etc.)
  • Building social connections across the school and encouraging collaboration on work, wellness and social activities
  • Adopting policies that promote work/life balance and healthy habits
  • Creating a wellbeing strategy to address and combat the challenges of poor mental health.

Remove unnecessary frustrations

Millennials don’t want to waste precious hours because they don’t have the tools they need to do their jobs. In fact, 93% of millennials say that an employer having up-to-date technology is an important factor when choosing a workplace and 42% would leave a company due to “substandard technology”.

So, to attract and retain a new breed of teacher, investing in the right tools to help reduce the burden of things like marketing and lesson prep is crucial.

For example, the Promethean ActivPanel supports online assessment and general data entry, thus giving your teachers more time to teach, with less time wasted handling paperwork.

The verdict

Schools are now reliant on millennial teachers. But, if you want these talented educators to stay in the profession, you have to give them reasons to. So, while creating a modern teaching culture is not without challenges, making millennial teachers feel valued, engaged and productive is something that SLTs must do if they want to retain talent and save on recruitment costs.