Retaining 'quality' teachers: A framework of micro-political actions

Year: 2016

Author: Johnson, Bruce, Sullivan, Anna, Simons, Michele, Peters, Judith, Arnold, Peter

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Attracting and retaining high quality teachers to the profession is an international concern. In Australia, teacher workforce development has focused predominantly on attracting and recruiting quality teachers, but less attention has been given to the broader retention process. As schooling systems search for new ways to address the problem of ‘quality’ teacher retention, recent research suggests that past ‘solutions’ based on macro-level financial inducements and scholarships to attract high quality teachers may be misdirected. For example, DeAngelis and Presley (2010) found that variation in school-level attrition is substantially greater within school type than across school type, suggesting that practices, processes, and events at the school level have a greater influence on teachers’ decisions to stay or leave, than the location and socio-economic level of the school. These and other findings focus attention on schools as sites for action on the problem of teacher attrition (Johnson, 2012).This paper will report on research that investigated how school leaders influence and foster new teacher retention. More specifically, it will report on how school leaders, particularly principals, employ micropolitical strategies and tactics to promote early career teacher engagement and retention. Semi structured interviews were held with four school leadership teams and 16 early career teachers. The interviews investigated the conditions that fostered a successful transition to the profession. Particular attention was paid to how these conditions were established, who was involved and how they were sustained. Data were analysed thematically and a Draft Framework of Micropolitical Activities that Promote Quality Early Career Teacher Retention was developed. The framework outlines four main themes: (1) Employ ideological rationales to justify actions to retain quality teachers; (2) Enact workforce recruitment strategies that enable the ‘best’ quality teachers to be employed; (3) Actively pursue ‘quality’ teachers who ‘fit’ the school’s needs; and (4) Re-engineer teachers’ work and development to promote success and commitment.This study is significant because it contributes to a gap in our knowledge about which school leader-initiated micropolitical activities are most effective in nurturing early career teachers and promoting their professional growth.