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How to retain older teachers for secondary education

Dissatisfied older teachers regularly quit teaching before reaching retirement age. In her dissertation, PhD candidate Ietje Veldman advocates specific coaching for this group to retain them for education. PhD defence on September 27th.

Not all teachers succeed in staying happy with their work until the end of their career. Dissatisfied older teachers will tend to quit before reaching retirement age. Work overload, low status of the profession, disruptive student behaviour, and a poor relationship with students are reasons often mentioned for the declining job satisfaction of older teachers. 

Shortage of teachers

That is a pity, because in the Netherlands we face teacher shortage of teachers. If we want to maintain experienced teachers for the profession, we have to invest in coaching for this group, Veldman says. In her dissertation, she examined the relationship between the job satisfaction of older teachers and the quality of their relationship with students.

'My research shows, among other things, that satisfied teachers often name intrinsic factors for their satisfaction, such as a good relationship with students, while dissatisfied older teachers often refer to external factors such as work and administrative loads,' Veldman says. 'However, some of the dissatisfied teachers indicate that they can not shape the relationship with students in the way they really want.'

In addition, older teachers often find it difficult to estimate their relationship with students: in many cases they overestimate or underestimate their relationship with the children. Their estimates about that relationship do not match those of the students themselves.


These findings are the reason for Veldman to suggest the relationship with students as a subject in the coaching of older teachers, even with older teachers who are still satisfied with their work. In that coaching, the relationship between teacher-student relationship and job satisfaction should play an important role. This is not only in the interests of the teacher himself but also of the pupil. He or she will benefit if the teacher is able to estimate the relationship with the classroom properly.

Currently, according to Veldman, in the public debate disproportiional attention is paid to beginning teachers. How can we keep them for the profession? 'That is of course important, but only part of the solution. If we want to have enough teachers in the future, we will have to keep the more experienced teachers in the profession.'

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