The increasing teacher shortage in the U.S. has been acknowledged multiples times over. Teacher training programs across the country are struggling to meet the needs of this shortage as they recruit possible new hires. Additionally, already certified teachers are leaving the profession at rapid rates. According to recent data, 13.8% of public school teachers are leaving their schools and/or the teaching profession altogether. These rates are particularly high in schools located in lower-income communities.

There are many reasons teachers are leaving the profession at such rapid rates, and it is becoming increasingly evident that principal leadership and school leadership support have a big effect on teacher turnover rates, particularly in regards to support and professional development opportunities.

Principals must be aware of how their management choices affect their faculty. They are responsible for generating resources, establishing relationships, and fostering a sense of inclusion and teamwork in their schools. Since teachers cite time and resources, professional relationships, collaboration, and decision-making input as key factors in their decisions to leave or stay, school principals have the greatest vantage point to improve teacher retention.


Recent studies suggest teachers who find their administrators to be unsupportive are more than twice as likely than their peers to leave their school or the profession altogether. Healthy administrator support can take many forms. Effective principals provide emotional and instructional support to their faculty, particularly those in low-income districts. Support can range from an increase in providing instructional resources and teaching materials to opening clear channels of communication, so teachers feel heard. Ultimately, teachers who remain in their role or the industry feel they are offered the resources and communication they need to excel in the classroom.

Professional Development

Support does not only come in the form of resources and communication. Teachers who leave their roles often feel they are not given enough opportunities for professional development. Those in low-income schools tend to have the least opportunity for professional development and often report feeling unsupported by school administrators. Since students at disadvantaged schools usually perform at lower rates than the national average, these teachers need professional development the most. Professional development is crucial for teachers to acquire new skills, update their knowledge, and strengthen classroom practices.

However, teachers who stay in their school usually report quality mentorship and effective subject-specific professional development opportunities.

Time for Collaboration & Planning

Teachers who are offered opportunities for professional development, collaboration and planning typically excel in the classroom. Furthermore, they are more likely to stay in schools that offer them ways to work with others toward supporting academic excellence and frequently report highly cooperative working environments. These environments establish a culture of learning wherein faculty and staff are encouraged to work together to obtain useful training, help each other based on individual strengths, and create strategic plans to benefit their student bodies.

Professional Relationships

One of the dominant factors in teachers’ decisions to leave their schools is their perceptions of school leaders. Principals who set clear expectations, provide support and encouragement, and recognize staff for a job well done effectively retain teachers. Educators not only need to feel supported, but they also need to feel heard, seen, and recognized for their contributions. Great principals establish relationships with their faculty and clearly express that their time, efforts, and input are valued.

Learn more about Barry University’s online Master of Science in Educational Leadership program.


Economy Policy Institute:
Teachers Need Better Professional Development Opportunities, More Support
The Role of Early Career Supports, Continuous Professional Development, and Learning Communities in the Teacher Shortage
U.S. Schools Struggle to Hire and Retain Teachers

Learning Policy Institute: A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S.

National Center for Education Statistics: Teacher Attrition and Mobility