Four steps centres can take to improve educator retention

Early childcare educator turnover rates were researched, analyzed, and documented quite extensively in Australia and the United States. A National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) study noted that average annual turnover rates of educators neared the 30% mark, while other sources reported the amount to be as high as 40%.

Whereas an Australian survey on 1200 early childhood educators produced another equally alarming image: 1 in 5 educators planned to quit their profession within the next 12 months. Why the seemingly mass exodus? Why are our educators quitting? It’s a tough question that we need to address and a big, costly issue in the educational sector.

The principle issues include low wages, poor working conditions, minimal advancement opportunities, burnout, and let’s not forget the ever-increasing load of paperwork

Using technology to help educators reduce their paperwork

There’s tremendous stress in having to juggle latest research-based practices, continual data management, required paperwork, all the while adhering to a centre’s specific directives. In fact, when it comes down to just the paperwork aspect of the job, the complexity and sheer numbers that is required for such detailed record tracking and data recording is painstakingly detailed and mentally exhausting.

Clearly, our educators are feeling overwhelmed and undervalued in such a notoriously demanding field. So, how can we support our educators? What can we do to encourage them to stay

Why high turnover rates require our immediate attention?

Firstly, we know that childcare centres spend a lot of money and effort on recruiting and training educators. Focussing on educator retention can significantly help not only cut costs but also keep parents happy.

Secondly, 90% of the neural connections are formed in the first 5 years of a person’s life. Since the future and well-being of a country’s economy is largely based on having (and, therefore, producing) an educated populace and a highly skilled workforce, then fixing high turnover rates is, obviously, in the government’s best interest.

Do centre managers play an important role in PD?

Absolutely! Managers are vital in supporting professional development and facilitating favorable working conditions. A part of working conditions include location of the centre and it being subjected to government regulations, another part is most certainly centre-specific. Studies show that early childhood education centres that provide what educators consider to be better working conditions, in turn, provide better care and education to their students.

Additionally, evidence shows that educators who experience minimal professional support from their management, unsurprisingly, have significantly lower job satisfaction rates.

What can the childcare management do to improve retention?

The obvious answer here would be to raise educator salaries and increase their workplace benefits. This quick-fix solution might not be feasible in the short-term due to lack of funding. However, focusing on what motivates them and supporting them in their role, can vastly improve retention and boost educator productivity:

1

Pick the right educator for YOUR centre:

How? Using techniques such as conducting creative interviews, managers and directors can recruit educators that appear to be a better fit for their centres. Directors should carefully consider where to post their jobs, how potential educators are asked to apply, and how those applicants are screened and selected.
2

Ensure a positive work environment:

A friendly, positive work atmosphere certainly goes a long way in retaining educators. This includes the fostering of a collegial and supportive workplace culture, opportunities for teacher training development and managerial recognition for educators with higher education and achievements. For example, acknowledge the administrative burden educators undertake and streamline your centres processes by adopting the right technology. Educators need to feel they have the support of their administrative and managerial staff at all times. Therefore, it is important for centres to nurture the sense of being a part of the cohesive childcare team as opposed to several independent workers.
3

A solid support system WITHIN the positive environment:

Here, communication is the key. Usually, professional support means that the childcare centre encourages, stimulates, supports and subsidies professional development for their educators, With communication being prime, regular staff meetings with both educators and centre managers are therefore crucial.

Time can be set aside for educators to discuss how they (and the centre) can stay
up-to-date with newer teaching approaches and practices. What's imperative here is to provide an open forum for educators to voice their opinions, knowing that what they say will be taken into consideration. What one must do is to nurture an environment that encourages colleagues to consult one another.

4

Opportunities for educators to grow within the centre:

Lastly, centres may also want to consider what non-monetary job perks they can offer to their educators.. For example, more personal development time, greater autonomy over their teaching programs, and in-house/on-site educational seminars. These factors can really pique an educator's interest since it is yet another manner in which they can grow within their field, all while under their centre's assistance and guidance.

Tot Tok (www.tot-tok.com) is a web and mobile-based platform that helps childcare centres meet compliance, replaces almost all paperwork for educators and helps parents stay involved in their child’s development.

Tot Tok works across multiple devices and operating systems, and offers a simple dashboard to educators and parents to actively contribute to the child’s development and progress.

Ankita

Author Ankita

An early childhood advocate and technologist

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