Teacher turnover is taking a toll on quality of instruction in UAE

[Teachers build a strong bond with students only over a consistent period, and regular teacher turnover affects students’ confidence.]

According to educators, teacher turnover can have a negative impact on a student’s academic performance.

Teacher turnover rate in UAE schools are often known to be high.

Several reports over the years have revealed that the percentage of teacher turnover here is higher than the global average. The ‘Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives – A Strategic Approach to Education and Skills Policies in The United Arab Emirates’ report in 2015 by OECD highlighted that school managements need to work better to retain staff.

According to educators, teacher turnover can have a negative impact on a student’s academic performance. “Children – especially in lower classes – get affected by this constant change. A good teacher can have a dramatic impact on the child’s achievement only if she connects with the children over a period of time,” Tarannum Sheikh, head of primary at The Indian Academy, said.

Shweta Singh, human resources assistant manager at ASPAM Indian International School, said that schools need to plan their academic year well ahead and communicate any changes to their students, to mentally prepare them. She bel-ives that high teacher turnover can even cause students to lose their confidence levels. “Teacher turnover does have a great impact on student progress and learning. Most teachers build a strong bond and healthy relationship with students, making it joyful for them to come to school every day. When teachers leave, it breaks the emotional bond, creating a vacuum for the students. The student’s performance gets affected, as they value their teachers as mentors and guides. Their confidence levels drop and they develop a negative attitude towards the school climate,” Singh said. “However, if schools can create a culture of positivity and change management as a priority and communicate it to the students, nurture resilience in them and the grit to move on with their set goals and targets, it will help them accept the change and look forward to school life.

“In UAE, there is always the possibility that people will move out. Schools should plan their academic year well in advance and articulate it to the students, so that they are aware and are accepting of changes any time during the year.”

A teacher at the Sharjah Indian School, Latha Narasimhan, feels that a student’s development can be affected in “many ways” if their school sees high teacher turnover. They get used to certain teaching styles and can get confused if a new teacher takes over in the midst of the school year.

“Continuity and bonding that promotes learning gets lost, when teachers leave the school,” Narasimhan said. “Many a time, before the students adjust to the change, it is time to move up to the next grade. It affects their morale and psychological security needed for effective learning in school.”

‘Learning continuity, emotional ties are broken’

While teachers believe that students struggle academically due to increasing teacher turnover, students agree their grades suffer if a new teacher takes over mid-year.

One grade seven student, Dhanvi Sayani, said that students often build “emotional ties” with their teachers and it takes time them to form an understanding.

“A higher turnover affects our learning greatly, because each teacher has a different method of instruction, and it takes time for us to follow it. Since teachers play an important role in our learning, we also build strong emotional ties with him or her. So if they leave suddenly, it does not give us enough time to understand each other,” Sayani said.

In turn, she says, it’s very important for a teacher to figure out each student’s learning capacity, for effective teaching. But a regular change of teachers also exposes students to new ideas and the ability to adjust and accept change in a positive way. “This quality would help them a lot in the future.”

Dubai student Nehan Naseem said that every teacher has their own personal teaching style, which students get accustomed to. So students would struggle to adapt to it in the middle of the school year, he said.

“Teacher turnover definitely affects students’ learning process. Even if children are flexible and adapt to change easily it’s also a fact that teacher turnover negatively impacts them,” Nas-eem said.

Apart from having to get used to each teacher’s style, students also personally bond with teachers, forming a secure base for academic and social development, which is again adversely affected by teacher turnover, says Naseem.

Another student, Sarah Ronad, said: “With teachers changing or leaving mid-academic year, there is no continuity of thought and it breaks the rhythm of learning, thus hindering student advancement.

“Replacement teachers aren’t aware of each student’s progress and students also find it hard to keep up with new teachers and their respective styles of teaching. So it has a drastic impact on school performance.”

‘For a student, the teacher is a parent, mentor and facilitator’

(Anita Singh, Vice-Principal Shining Star International School, Abu Dhabi)

How many of us remember those teachers who have influenced us immensely and help us achieve what we have in our lives today? Almost all of us! That is the effect a teacher has on students. But are the students of today as lucky as we were, to have teachers who stayed through the entirely of their schooling period?

With the lack of continuity of teachers in an academic year, students get affected negatively. It affects the continuity in learning as teacher ‘A’ may start something in class keeping the progression of students in mind, and teacher ‘B’ joining after a few months breaks that continuity. This leads to confusion in a child’s mind, affecting his/ her progression. A subject may not interest a child, but definitely an educator with an interesting teaching methodology will kindle interest for the topic in the child.

The child’s learning is affected as it is difficult for them to constantly adjust to changing faces and styles. When a teacher remains for the whole academic year, it becomes easier to check the progress made by the child and devise remedial measures to help them improve.

Parents who are the primary stakeholders in an educational institution are, like their children, comfortable in dealing with teachers who know their child for a long period. Child development is the outcome of a partnership between the parent and the teacher, which produces the best result when both parties are comfortable with each other.

My advice to teachers has always been that they need to see every child as their own, only then can one do justice to this job. The two Ps required to be a great teacher are ‘Passion’ and ‘Patience’, apart from knowing your subject in and out. Research shows that students are comfortable and perform better when they know their teacher cares for them.

We often hear that change is the only constant. But in education, pedagogy can change, subjects can change but the teacher should remain a constant during the academic year, for the sake of a child’s progress and happiness.

How does teacher turnover affect students’ learning?

Turnover of teachers can be described as a process when certain teachers leave the school and are replaced. This can pose a tricky challenge for both educators and learners. Teachers are our window to the world; therefore, they play a key role in the life of a student. Each teacher is unique and has their own teaching methods. It might take some time for the students to adapt to their methods of teaching. If new teachers are introduced in the middle of the term, it may give a negative result, as the teacher might be unaware of the syllabus covered so far. However, change is inevitable and should be accepted with an open mind. So, we students should offer support to new teachers so that they can continue being our guiding light.

(Aryan Murali Dharan, The Millennium School, Dubai)

Teachers are the building blocks of schools who mould the future of generations of students. I think that the turnover of teachers affects the schools, as they lose experienced and dedicated teachers. Their role is not limited to just teaching: they introduce and reinforce ethics, values and life lessons to us students. They make learning a fluid and enjoyable experience for youngsters. They train the students to attain the highest international academic standards. Yet, teachers’ roles are not limited to being educators – they also mentor and emotionally bond with students, who often confide and trust their teachers with problems and issues and seek their advice for personal and social well-being. Teachers are our invaluable resource.

(Hurairah Faatimah Muzammil Gems Our Own English High School, Dubai)

Teacher turnover definitely has an adverse effect on student attainment and progress. This is due to the loss of resources and experience that the teacher has developed over the years. School management should focus on retention of staff, for positive outcomes as a whole.

(Martha Fishery, Head of Assessment, Sixth Form and Moral Education at GEMS Westminister School)

Source: Khaleej Times