teacher professional learning

Teacher Professional Learning Impacts Teacher Retention

Ever since the Great Recession brought cuts to education funding, school districts have been struggling to fill teacher vacancies. Over a decade later, the stress of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic drove many educators to leave the profession, exacerbating the teacher shortage. While COVID-19 fears have abated, the 2023-24 school year started with a more than 50% increase in teacher vacancies over the prior school year.

Urban and high-poverty districts are experiencing turnover rates as high as 14%, according to a RAND survey of districts. Suburban districts overall saw a doubling of turnover rates. This is despite their efforts to retain teachers by increasing pay, enhancing benefits, and easing requirements.

Money alone cannot fix this problem. No one enters the profession seeking wealth. The veteran teachers who hung in there through virtual learning and face masks, along with the new teachers fresh out of college and bursting with enthusiasm, need support in their daily work and support with their long-term career goals. To provide this support, districts need to personalize professional development and offer it in a way that makes it relevant and engaging.

Why Are Teachers Leaving and What Do They Need to Stay?

It’s not news that compensation for teachers hasn’t kept pace with salaries in other fields that require a college degree. When the economy is booming, employees in the private sector often are rewarded with substantial pay increases and bonuses. This is not the case in education, as school boards must always keep a watchful eye on taxpayer dollars. However, during recessionary times, cuts to education budgets often mean teachers must settle for contracts that offer minimal bumps in salary.

At a January 2023 event, Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona pointed to inadequate compensation as one driver of the teacher shortage, asking his audience, “Did you know that in the last twenty-five years, wages for college graduates have gone up by 28% while weekly wages for teachers have gone up by a measly 2%?”

Teachers need a living wage and a salary large enough to repay student loans, but money isn’t the only factor. Teachers are reporting more stress and burnout as staff shortages increase workloads. For many, exhaustion and a sense that they are making little progress with their students and their own career goals are overwhelming their love of teaching. Due to the decline in the prestige that the profession once held and a sense that teachers are not always supported by the community, it’s no wonder that so many are pulling out.

Dr. Cardona sees a multi-pronged solution to teacher shortages that includes increasing pay, expanding teacher professional learning and career growth opportunities, and showing respect for teachers by giving them a voice when creating policy. This level of support for teachers, both veteran and new, will nurture a positive school climate and develop the culture of community necessary to keep teachers returning to their classrooms each fall. An effective professional development plan will go a long way toward helping teachers reach their professional goals and create a helpful and supportive school environment.

Personalize Teacher Professional Learning to Improve Job Satisfaction and Teacher Retention

Traditional professional development programs tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach. Teachers are often required to take time out of the classroom to sit passively in an auditorium with the entire faculty, watching PowerPoint presentations that may or may not be relevant to them. Teachers at different stages in their careers have different needs. Additionally, twice-yearly Professional Development Days fail to keep pace with rapidly changing technology, policies, and curricula. While every state has mandated annual compliance training, such as child abuse recognition and hazardous materials handling, there are better ways to meet these mandates.

It may seem more efficient to gather everyone into a room and present one program, but how many teachers in that room, rather than paying attention to the training, have brought a stack of papers to grade? Districts can better support their teachers by customizing professional development to provide relevant and engaging learning for each teacher. While some in-person training will always be necessary, virtual self-paced learning has advantages that districts should consider to improve job satisfaction and teacher retention.

Customize Professional Development with MobileMind Learning Solution

A modern approach to teacher professional learning uses an integrated solution that utilizes technology to offer teachers the learning that they want and need. An asynchronous learning hub, accessible via a web extension or mobile app, enables teachers to learn when and where it is convenient for them. Rather than take away valuable class time, teachers can move along their learning path when they have a bit of free time.

The MobileMind Professional Learning Hub is a cloud-based hub offering personalized courses through which educational leaders may offer engaging, personalized micro-learning. Teachers may access it with their smartphones or personal computers. Districts may create their own courses or select any that districts have already created and shared in the MobileMind Community. The learner-friendly hub makes it easy for school leaders to create learning paths, incorporate learning specific to a district’s policies and technology, and scale learning to accommodate any sized district. Districts can also set goals for their faculty and follow individual learners’ progress in reaching goals and completing compliance training while tracking continuing education hours.

For teachers, learning is self-paced, and they progress through training following step-by-step instructions and completing hands-on challenges that have them creating materials that they can use in their classrooms. The gaming aspect of MobileMind helps increase engagement as learners earn credentials and digital badges.

Prioritize Professional Development for Increased Job Satisfaction

Teachers are continually facing new challenges. To stay effective in their educator roles, they need relevant, engaging professional development opportunities. Tailoring a professional development program so teachers can meet the demands of their jobs and grow in their careers is fundamental to job satisfaction. New teachers need support transitioning from their own training to teaching a classroom of students; veterans need to keep up with the latest developments in the field. All faculty and staff must be up to date with compliance training and the use of the district’s technology.

Districts that prioritize professional development may be better able to attract and retain teachers by creating a professional, supportive learning community. This may seem like a great deal to ask of a professional development plan, but technology makes it possible with solutions like MobileMind.

MobileMind’s micro courses offer bite-sized learning opportunities that take minutes to complete without leaving the classroom and offer better time management. Schedule a call with MobileMind or request a demo to help ease teacher workflow and retain top talent with improved professional learning opportunities!