Transformative Strategies to Increase Teacher Job Satisfaction
It’s an undeniable reality—the health of our schools is not merely determined by budgets and buildings; it’s carried by the hearts and minds of our educators. Schools around the world are grappling with the daunting challenge posed by teacher attrition, resulting in a call for innovative solutions to improve teacher satisfaction in order to retain talented staff.
The good news is that we can cultivate robust environments where teacher retention isn’t a distant dream, but a tangible outcome. This blog outlines seven transformational strategies to increase teacher job satisfaction from our resource, “Transforming the Teacher Role.”
What Factors Contribute to Teacher Job Satisfaction?
The teaching profession has experienced a decline in teacher satisfaction over time, but what is behind this trend and how can we reverse it?
Addressing teacher satisfaction will require communities to deeply understand their context and the individual educators working within it. We’ve consolidated research on teacher job satisfaction and organizational social theory to describe what teachers value most from the profession and, in turn, what can drive satisfaction.
We identified four key drivers of teacher satisfaction:
- Role and Fit: This driver defines the ways that a teacher’s role, responsibilities, and a personal sense of belonging contribute to teacher satisfaction.
- Working Conditions: This driver defines the ways that a school’s structure and systems support teachers and contribute to teacher satisfaction.
- Career Development: This driver defines the types of opportunities and resources around career progression that contribute to teacher satisfaction.
- Compensation, Rewards, and Recognition: This driver defines how increased salary, fair compensation, and positive recognition contribute to teacher satisfaction.
Seven Transformational Strategies to Increase Teacher Job Satisfaction
These seven innovative strategies to keep teachers fulfilled and committed for the long haul. We’ve based these strategies on what we know draws people to teaching, what helps them flourish in their roles, and what results in equitable outcomes for student learning. Many of these strategies call on schools and districts to make system-level decisions and consider long-term planning.
For each strategy, we’ve also included some ideas to try so you can move toward these transformational strategies in small ways. Pilot these ideas before jumping in head first! These ideas are not meant to be comprehensive, but we hope they inspire you to make some changes that are most relevant to your community and teachers’ unique needs.
Implement Collaborative Team Teaching
Collaboration fuels innovation. This vibrant exchange enhances teacher satisfaction as they learn from each other, break down professional silos, and cultivate a robust community. The transformed classroom, imbued with shared leadership, enriches student learning experiences with multiple perspectives and aching strengths.
Get Started: Co- and/or team-teaching
Choose one grade level where STEM and Humanities teachers can most readily work together. Pair content-related teachers together to share classroom responsibilities and divide instructional tasks in one classroom.
Leverage Nontraditional Professionals to Supplement Staff
Nontraditional professionals bring distinct knowledge and experiences that can nourish our intellectual ecosystem and support instructional and non-instructional duties. Their involvement supplements core teaching staff, more evenly distributes extra responsibilities, and fosters a sense of shared mission and mutual support.
Get Started: Gauge family interest
A few times a year, send a survey to parents to gauge interest in coming to volunteer at school. Offer a routine, schedule, and clarity around types of roles: hall monitor, lunch monitor, study hall support, and before- or after-school safety monitor, to name a few.
Extend the Reach of High-Quality Educators
In the pursuit of equitable education, nurturing the professional development of each educator empowers them to polish their skills, evolve pedagogy, and deepen their content expertise. By extending their reach, we are acknowledging their mastery and unique contribution to our schools. This strategy provides opportunities for excellent teachers to gain more formal leadership skills while also targeting professional development for other more novice teachers.
Get Started: Teacher-led professional development sessions
Reflect on your professional development sessions from last year and consider which sessions might have been more impactful and purposeful if teachers were more involved in the process of planning and execution. Based on your reflections, choose one or two sessions a semester that teachers can fully plan and execute. Provide time to plan, guidance, appropriate compensation, and feedback where necessary.
Activate Student Ownership and Self-Direction
Encouraging students to take agency in their learning journey is transformative for teachers, too. Self-directed learners allow teachers to take on mentorship roles, fostering deep learning experiences that transcend the traditional confines of pedagogical structures. This shift in dynamics enriches the teaching experience, leading to higher teacher job satisfaction and retention.
Get Started: Independent learning time sessions
Choose two classrooms to open class time for one hour a week, when students can make decisions about the what and how of their learning. Offer a range of choices to start. Students can choose to complete pending class work or projects, start a long-term personal project, get ahead on assignments, work in small groups, or conference with their teachers.
Think Flexibly about Scheduling
Reimagining the shape of a school day can allow schools to be responsive to educators’ needs and tackle the work-life balance problem. Flexible scheduling respects teachers’ need for preparation time and self-care—crucial for teacher job satisfaction. It allows schools to prioritize resource allocation in a way that truly supports those in classrooms.
Get Started: Shift work scheduling
Could your teachers start early or leave later? If schedules allow, teachers who only teach in the morning can leave earlier, while those who teach in the afternoon can arrive later.
Inspire Teacher Autonomy and Leadership
Empowering teachers to be decision-makers sparks their inherent capacity to lead. Schools that foster teacher autonomy create trust and respect that elevates teacher job satisfaction. By developing their capacities as leaders within a supportive structure, we encourage the educator’s sense of ownership and invigorate their professional engagement.
Get Started: Teacher, staff, and student surveys
Once a month, send an optional survey to teachers, staff, and students on learning and school priorities. Twice a semester, send a required survey. Share the results of the required survey as a “state of the school,” and make plans for addressing concerns and feedback; ask teachers and students for solutions; seek additional rounds of feedback on potential solutions; and report back changes and solution results.
Support Positive Adult Mindsets and Well-Being
Teacher well-being is inseparable from the mission of equitable, transformative education. Supportive environments that prioritize mental health, resilience, and a positive mindset help retain teachers who can, in turn, foster the same among their students. This strategy is both a reflection of respect for teachers and an investment in the healthy future of our learning communities.
Get Started: Staff circle
Once a month during professional development sessions or all-staff meetings, gather
your staff to discuss pressing issues, feedback, points of celebration and challenges. Be clear about what follow-up conversations and resolutions might look like following the space.
These strategies to increase teacher job satisfaction are about continuously innovating, promoting inclusivity, advocating for equity, and recognizing the potential in every teacher and student. Learn more about what attracts educators, what keeps them around, the seven strategies to increase teacher job satisfaction, and ways to tinker with these strategies in your school or district in our resource, “Transforming the Teacher Role.”
Transcend supports communities to create and spread extraordinary, equitable learning environments.