Finding and Keeping Great Teachers through Equity

Conroy Talent & Associates and The New School of San Francisco have partnered on a unique project to understand what brings professionals into the teaching vocation, what inspires them to pursue non-traditional teaching pathways, and what keeps them in the profession beyond a 5-year window.

High attrition rates make it difficult for school leaders to maintain a consistent school culture and attract top talent. The U.S. Department of Education, in its most recent longitudinal study of teacher attrition, found that 17% of teachers in public schools exit the teaching profession within the first five years of their career. Rates are often higher in smaller schools.

Despite only being in their second year of existence, the New School SF, led by Principal Emily Bobel Kilduff, has made it their mission to get out in front of the teacher retention question by partnering with Conroy Talent & Associates to bring the stories of their educators’ experiences to life in a qualitative study of their first two years of teaching with the school.

"It can be almost impossible for teachers to slow down and appreciate how their own careers are advancing in their first few years in the classroom, particularly at a brand new school. It's a whirlwind experience," said Conroy Talent & Associates' CEO, Chris Conroy. "Our goal is to provide New School teachers with the space to reflect on two things: 1) the most important aspects of their daily teaching experience and 2) the goals they have for their own lifestyle and professional achievement. Then we ask the question, 'Can you get there from here?'"

At just about every school, the spring season is filled with urgency for teachers who are deciding whether or not they will return to teach again in the Fall of 2017. New School SF and Conroy Talent view these pivotal two months as an opportune time for nine teachers and two administrators to reflect on the development of their craft and assess whether their career progress matches the path toward their future goals. The group will work together to identify common themes from the lives of teachers who have a clear picture of their future in the classroom and compare those perspectives with teachers who are less sure of where they will end up in the coming years.

"The goal of this exercise is really to understand what allows a teacher at our school to envision themselves thriving in the classroom year after year, and what might cloud that picture for teachers who might otherwise be great educators," explains New School SF's Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Shernice Lazare.

The New School SF also wants to ensure that teachers have equitable opportunities to build a successful career in the classroom. The school's charter makes it clear that they are "diverse by design" and "committed to practicing equity in all we do." The school makes a thirteen-year commitment to students and their families from kindergarten through senior year of high school. By partnering with Conroy Talent & Associates, New School leadership hopes to make a similar, steadfast commitment to their teaching staff.

"The most exciting aspect of this partnership is that we'll get a deeper understanding of how we're serving the professional development needs of all or faculty," said Bobel Kilduff. "Equity is a core operating principle of our school. We want to be sure each one of our teachers has the same opportunities to grow -- to find professional fulfillment -- when they are in the classroom. For our students to thrive, we have to ensure all our teachers do so as well."

To learn more about The New School San Francisco and their breakthrough student-centered learning model, please visit http://newschoolsf.org. To learn how Conroy Talent & Associates is helping schools and nonprofits recruit, retain, and diversify their workforce, please visit http://chrisconroy.site.