Education Puzzle Piece

Language Teacher Retention Project

As established earlier, national teacher shortages for positions across foreign language education have worsened in an era where resources for education are even scarcer. At this time, foreign language teachers have one of the highest attrition rates in K-12 education due to factors including self-efficacy concerns and a lack of professional mentoring resources. Correspondingly, this dilemma underscores an urgent need to increase recruitment into the field of education. In this alarming landscape, the rate of teacher attrition, especially among new foreign language educators, remains particularly distressing across certain areas of the southeastern United States. As a Title VI LRC based in Atlanta, Georgia, research into the development of new approaches and tools to reverse these negative trends remains imperative.

In an innovative approach to address both the shortage of qualified language instructors and the challenges in retaining experienced instructors, CULTR’s Language Teacher Retention Project is spread across three phases to emphasize strategy, support, and dissemination of its findings.

Carried out by Dr. Peter B. Swanson, an expert in teacher retention, and Trish Nolde, CULTR’s Associate Director, CULTR ensures a comprehensive research project to begin tackling the negative trends facing foreign language educators.

Dr. Peter B. Swanson, Associate Professor of Foreign Language Education at Georgia State University, serves as the coordinator of the Foreign Language Teacher Education programs and is the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of World Languages and Cultures. In 2015, he was elected as President-Elect for The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Since his arrival in 2006, he has worked in Georgia schools with K-12 teachers, district language coordinators, and state officials to steadily increase the number and the diversity of pre-service teachers and graduate students in GSU’s programs. His recruitment and retention efforts have resulted in GSU having one of the largest language teacher education programs in the US. Each year graduates from GSU’s language teacher preparation programs have been hired at or before program completion. Details regarding the program’s success is highlighted in his second book, Identifying and Recruiting Language Teachers: A Research-based Approach.

The following phases make up CULTR’s Language Teacher Retention Project. Please explore each further through the portals below.

Phase 1: Teacher Engagement and Retention Roundtable

Throughout the summer of 2015, CULTR implemented phase one of its Language Teacher Retention Project called the Teacher Engagement and Retention Roundtable. In phase one, Dr. Peter Swanson, and expert on teacher retention, hosted a roundtable meeting of researchers with a focus on instructor burnout and self-exiting from the profession to identify strategies for effective foreign language teacher support and retention, motivation, and coping strategies.

Phase 2: THRIVE

Upcoming in the summer of 2016, CULTR will execute phase 2 of its Language Teacher Retention Project through a Teacher Retention Seminar entitled THRIVE. In this phase, CULTR will hold weeklong summer workshops that will establish the base of a multi-layered mentoring/enrichment program to reduce burnout and attrition in language teachers. Through a cohort of 50-75 K-12 language instructors, attendees will join intensive workshops focusing on strategies for class management, efficacy, technology integration, student engagement, and professional development. Unlike traditional summer workshops, these workshops will serve to develop communication and professional mentoring networks that will continue through the following years.

Phase 3: Online Foreign Language Education Mentoring Videoconferences

For the summer of 2017, CULTR will fulfill phase 3 of its Language Teacher Retention Project with the Online Foreign Language Education Mentoring Videoconferences. Following the previous summer workshops, content and resources will be distributed online and available to all language instructors in order to maximize dissemination of materials. Online synchronous mentoring, webinars and special interest groups will be hosted throughout the year to reach teachers who may not have access to mentoring in their geographic location. The original cohort of teachers established during the summer workshop will form a foundation group for this effort.