In a recent article, the teacher turnover rate for new teachers has reached a five year high in North Carolina. Even though there are many other school districts that have not had the same experience, it is imperative that school districts maintain teachers to ensure healthy school climates. Urban schools can reduce teacher turnover rates by better preparing teachers to interact with Black students.

According to the article, Teacher turnover rises in North Carolina public schools, the teacher turnover rate for new teachers was twenty-one percent. The causes for the increased North Carolina teacher turnover rate included:

  • Personal reasons
  • Dissatisfaction with teaching
  • Family relocation
  • Career change
  • Dismissal

All causes cited above appear to indicate some dissatisfaction with the school environment. For example, personal reasons not associated with either medical or family challenges would lead to job dissatisfaction. Job dissatisfaction can become so problematic that the teacher would consider relocation, career change, and even become involved in circumstances that would require a dismissal from the school. The key factor for reducing teacher turnover rates in schools is for teachers to have success in the classroom.

What is a classroom incident that can contribute to the increase in teacher turnover rates in schools?

The main incident that can contribute to increased teacher turnover rates in urban schools is classroom disruptions. There are many reasons for classroom disruptions. It is the result of the classroom disruption that becomes detrimental to classroom environment and eventually increase teacher turnover rates in urban schools.

One major reason for a classroom disruption is talking during instruction. When students talk during instruction, it interrupts the necessary communication process between the teacher and his/her students. It can cause a teacher to become so frustrated and therefore contribute to the increase in teacher turnover.

What classroom disruptive behaviors do some Black students exhibit to discover the strengths and weaknesses of a teacher that can contribute to teacher turnover?

Many Black students will use several verbal techniques to discover a teacher’s strengths and weaknesses. This discovery process is utilized in order for the student to evaluate a teacher’s racial attitudes and locate the teachers’ breaking points to help the students empower themselves in the situation between them and the teacher. Black students who expect to rise to a position of the leader in the classroom must know how to maintain their composure in a confrontation with the teacher. If the Black student is unable to maintain their composure to a teachers classroom challenge for disruptive behavior without becoming frustrated, they are less likely to maintain the respect of their peers or remain a leader.

Black students who desire to disrupt a classroom gain leadership by participatory entrance into conversations through impulsive involvement behavior, and attempting to make a point through personal assertiveness rather than waiting for the teacher to grant permission.

The ensuing result is that Black students create a power play by loud talking or back-talking to make teachers lose their cool and get the last word in.

What behaviors can teachers exhibit to increase teacher satisfaction which will ultimately decrease teacher turnover rates?

Teacher can begin by showing students respect. One way to show students respect is to call them Mr., Mrs., Sir, of Ma’am. I have personally used this technique with great success. Developing respect require that the teacher have the ability and desire to develop positive relationships with their students.

One area that teachers must consider is teacher questioning techniques. When teachers ask respectful questions, students feel they are in a trusting environment that makes them sense that they are safe. Questions that humiliate students diminish student confidence. Teachers who ask trick questions will respond in an arrogant or derogatory manner when students do not respond. Teachers who ask questions to boost their egos will not gain students’ respect or admiration. Stupid questions are insulting and can cause anger and frustration in Black students. Black students do not appreciate when teachers ask direct personal questions.

Black students have cultural experiences that can impede classroom question-and-answer sessions. Cultural conflicts between the teacher and Black students may surface because of basic question-and-answer sessions. Blacks learn that question-and-answer sessions result when an adult is angry with them, and this process may inhibit students from classroom involvement.

While the recommendations included are not inclusive of all techniques that can make teaching a more comfortable career. It is a great start in reducing teacher turnover rates.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology

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