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More Research Stuff from Fran

May 26, 2010

One thing that is becoming quite apparent in my research on why teachers leave the profession.

The role administrators play is quite powerful.  Every single interviewee cited unsupportive administration in the list of triggers for their leaving.  This trait was only once cited in isolation, however it showed up in every participant’s list in some form or other.  This might have involved the tone of the school,  or an overall problem with students being “out of control” throughout the entire school.  This might have involved administrators admonishing teachers for needing support with discipline.  (Yes, this happens more than we would like to think.)  It might be outright targeting of a teacher by an administrator.  Or, it may have involved an inexperienced administrator who just didn’t have their sea legs yet.

The interesting dynamic here, is that teachers were able to identify an poor administrator because they had previously worked with an excellent administrator.  They knew the difference.   The advent of a poor administrator preceded the turn of attitude about the job in literally every case, with the exception of the participant who came from higher ed. 

Administrators must not underestimate their power, and their responsibility.  A good administrator not only helps guide teachers through growth in a positive way, but also supports them in the process of educating students.  A good administrator encourages collaboration, and sets the tone in the school, allows the teacher to do what they are trained to do.  For better or worse, administration is an important piece of the education puzzle. 

In this current political and social environment that likes to bash teachers, I think perhaps it might not be a bad idea to look at the whole puzzle.  Community in which a school is situation; yes, teacher quality; but for heaven’s sake, don’t leave out the the component “Administrator.”  These things work in concert to create an excellent, good or just plain poor learning and work environment.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 27, 2010 4:42 pm

    Thanks for identifying that administration holds such an important role in teacher retention. In the book, we are reading this summer (right, Fran?!).. in the forward the author called this Relational TRUST.

    And as is true with relationships, trust is at the base of a successful dynamic. When we are not trusted, we feel invalidated and eventually powerless. Being powerless in the front of 25 middle schoolers is an unenvyable position.

    Thanks for creating space for this kind of discussion and hopefully healing!

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