Resorative Practices and Teacher Retention

A report by The Fund for Educational Excellence highlights issues of teacher burnout, retention, and recruitment, suggesting that school districts focus on retaining teachers as much as recruiting them, especially given the declining interest in teaching careers. While Maryland hasn’t experienced extreme teacher shortages yet, individual schools are feeling the pinch. Teachers are burdened with extensive workloads beyond classroom instruction, including administrative tasks and a role in students’ emotional and social well-being. The study points out that effective school leadership and a supportive culture are key factors in teacher satisfaction, emphasizing the need for improved management and communication practices.

Restorative practices offer a transformative approach to school discipline, fostering a climate of inclusivity, empathy, and shared responsibility. This approach can significantly improve teacher retention by creating a more supportive and less adversarial environment. When teachers feel they are part of a community where all voices are heard, and conflicts are resolved through constructive dialogue rather than punitive measures, it reduces emotional and professional strain. The school environment becomes a place where teachers, just like students, are set up for success rather than stress, thereby increasing job satisfaction and willingness to remain in the profession.

Another way restorative practices can aid in teacher retention is by promoting stronger relationships among students, and between students and teachers. A cornerstone of restorative practices is the focus on building social capital and repairing harm rather than mere punishment. Teachers who engage in restorative practices often report improved classroom dynamics because students are more likely to take responsibility for their actions and are less likely to engage in disruptive behavior. As a result, teachers spend less time on discipline and more time on effective instruction, which makes the teaching experience more rewarding and less exhausting.

Lastly, restorative practices empower teachers by involving them in the decision-making processes related to discipline and classroom management. Traditional disciplinary approaches often leave teachers feeling unsupported or disconnected from administrative decisions, contributing to a sense of powerlessness that can be a factor in deciding to leave the profession. In contrast, restorative practices encourage collective decision-making and open dialogue between teachers, administrators, and students. This fosters a sense of agency and ownership over the educational process for teachers, making them more likely to stay committed to their roles and the school community.

See the report here: https://ffee.org/wp-content/uploads/T-Retention_Final_Digital.pdf