By. Teresa Marchant
You can call it a teacher shortage or high turnover, either way, teacher turnover is a problem many school districts across the country are facing. This is especially true in Montana, where the wages are low and districts are struggling to fill vacancies. This then forces schools to request variances to state accreditation standards.
In Montana, if you are a school district where you have filled all open positions, you are lucky! But, don’t hold your breath because this could quickly change as educators are eyeing other open positions in surrounding districts. Smaller districts are then left in the lurch as last-minute openings result in additional staffing changes. I have seen districts fill positions only to have to fill them again, either right before school starts, and even as late as mid-year. This has a huge impact on the school, staff, and students.
There are the “always has openings” school districts across Montana. It seems like these schools have a revolving door for first-year educators. In these districts, the high turnover may be a reflection of poor wages, leadership, or location. By utilizing loan forgiveness, rural and lower-income districts entice new teachers to their districts.
With constant changes to staffing, it is difficult to create relationships with colleagues. Lately, there has been a push for mentoring programs to help with teacher retention. Schools that have implemented mentoring programs have fewer retention problems because teachers feel supported.
Attending a school that constantly hires the same positions yearly is difficult for both staff and students. I have a friend who blames his poor grammar on always having a new English teacher all four years of high school. There was no continuity within that department which then spills over into content delivery. As a vendor, this is a perfect opportunity to reach out to these schools and offer your support with resources that provide vertical and horizontal alignment.
If teachers vacate their positions mid-year this is even more traumatic on the school, staff, and students. The schools’ reputation is in jeopardy which then results in having other staff members pulled to fill in which could ultimately hurt our students.
What Vendors Need to Know
Regardless of which state you are working with, you can help districts that are in this position by targeting their needs. Common problem areas are wages, leadership, or teachers who feel a lack of support. This is where you come in! As a vendor, you have a great deal to offer in terms of resources and services. Teachers need the right tools for their job. With all stakeholders working together, it will help improve the education of our students and the climate of the school.
Ready to update your data with all of this change? Contact your team today!