Modeling Commitment: Key Factor in Retaining Faculty & Staff

Trusted school leaders maintain their relationships and keep their promises. The importance of making and keeping both personal and organizational commitments is key to the successful management of a school or any organization.

What makes a great manager great? Despite differences in their personal attributes, successful managers all excel in the making, honoring, and remaking of commitments… A leader’s commitments shape a business’s identity, define its strengths and weaknesses, establish its opportunities and limitations, and set its direction.[1]

Trusted school leaders know the high value of developing and maintaining an environment that fosters long-term faculty and staff Commitment. Studies suggest it takes five to seven years to develop an effective teacher.[2] Yet, in many schools, between high turnover rates and other factors, long-term teacher commitment to a single school is very low. In a recent study of British schools, a teacher’s average stay in the same location was 6.7 years.[3] That may mean that these teachers leave their schools just when they become most effective. In fact, the same study revealed that over 50% of teachers had been employed less than five years in the same location.

Studies also identified the key components to fostering longer teacher tenures. The results indicate “the need for school leaders to draw from occupational research and provide environments in which teachers are supported and regarded as valued decision-makers in their schools.”[4] Another USA-based study supports this same conclusion, identifying those school leaders who are actively…

…choosing, supporting, and valuing faculty and encouraging shared decision-making appear to be the central practices in building teacher retention; and these practices are supported by and integrated with principals’ modeling of positive personal characteristics, exercising fairness and equity, being visible and approachable, and communicating in an open two-way manner.[5]

Thus, modeling Commitment is a key factor in retaining committed faculty and staff.

©2016 Toby A. Travis

[1] Donald N. Sull, “Managing by Commitments,” Harvard Business Review 81, no. 6 (2003): 1.

[2] Jennifer H. Waddell, “Fostering Relationships to Increase Teacher Retention in Urban Schools” Journal of Curriculum and Instruction 4, no. 1 (2010): 70-85.

[3] “How Long are Teachers Staying?” Research in Public Policy, Centre for Market and Public Organisation, accessed 22 June 2016,

[4] Waddell, “Fostering Relationships,” 72.

[5] Janet A. Cornella, “Principal leadership: The missing link in teacher retention,” Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences 71, no. 9-A (2011): 3181.

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