Minimizing Teacher Turnover:
Inspiring Teachers through Mentoring
Roberto Carlos Flores Clemson University
International School Tegucigalpa (IST) is an American standard based K-12 school operating in the capital of Honduras. It is currently under dual accreditation from Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) who serve under AdvanceED. IST was founded in August 1993 with the vision of being a leader school, delivering quality education. Among its core values, it emphasizes experience and expertise. Traditionally the school has hired a high percentage of international staff and it has been this staff that has given the school its competitive advantage and character. Recruiting efforts have traditionally focused on hiring certified North American teachers, resulting today, in the largest North American teacher school staff in the Central American region.
IST has 139 full time staff members and out of the 139 members, 105 are full time teachers, serving only students. School data reflects that in last 5 years, the school has experienced a turnover of around 19 staff members per year. Although the data would reflect a 13% turnover, the percentage may be misleading as to the students’ reality. Since 105 teachers give about 90% of the instruction, students really experience an average closer to 20% turnover. Furthermore, data looked into more specifically, finds that some departments of the school experience a higher turnover than others. Elementary School (ES) hires an average of 10 new teachers every year that accounts to 24% of its teaching staff. Middle School (MS) hires an average of 5 new teachers every year, which accounts for 21% of their teaching staff. High School (HS) on average hires 2 teachers who account for 10% of its teachers while Pre School (PS) hires 2 new teachers every year on average, which account for 10% of its teaching staff. Looking into more longitudinal data IST experiences a turnover of around 55% percent every 4 years out of which 80% percent of this turnover rate are new teachers. Currently, IST has a human resource policy manual that only addresses induction and not mentoring. Grade teacher leaders, in PS and ES, work together with the curriculum office in a buddy system style. Work primarily is in groups and although time is allocated, no formal training or extra time is given for leaders to prepare. The quality of the program is not measured and there is no assessment. The program lacks formal structure and there is no teacher feedback, data, and it is not systematic. In MS and HS levels department heads exist instead of grade leaders; however this role is supervisory and hierarchical. Furthermore the Ministry of Education in Honduras does not require a specific mentoring program for private schools. According to a study conducted by Ingersoll & Strong on the effect of support, guidance, and orientation programs concluded that providing such support had a positive impact on three sets of outcomes: teacher commitment and retention, teacher classroom instructional practices, and student achievement (2011). A study conducted by Smith and Ingersoll examining whether mentoring programs had positive effects on the retention of new teachers concluded that novice teachers who planned with other teachers, collaborated with others, and were assigned mentors from the same subject area “were less likely to move to other schools and also less likely to leave the teaching profession after the first years of teaching” (2004). A meaningful mentoring program should have the following elements (Johnson et al., 2004; Saphier, Freedman, & Aschheim, 2001): Mentors that are carefully selected and matched with their mentees and mentors are given training in effective communication and peer coaching techniques. Attention is given to the concerns of beginning teachers. Special consideration is given...
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