NAIS Research Advisory: Teacher Well-Being: Identifying the Reasons Behind Teachers' Decisions to Stay or Leave

By Brenna Foley
NAIS Research Analyst
January 2024

Executive Summary

NAIS Research AdvisoryTeacher well-being has been a topic on many school leaders’ minds. Schools across the country, whether public, private, or independent, have been facing teacher shortages. NAIS interviewed teachers across a range of schools and cities about their well-being and why they choose either to stay or to leave their jobs. Using a Jobs-to-Be-Done framework, the following report explains why teachers stay and why they leave and what schools can do to retain their teachers.

What is Jobs to Be Done?

The Jobs-to-Be-Done (JTBD) methodology is a research approach designed to uncover the progress consumers are trying to make related to their need. It was popularized by Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School and is based on the theory that consumers do not purchase a product or service for the sake of it, but rather they “hire” a product or service to accomplish a particular goal in a given situation. This is the Job to Be Done. For example, a parent with an unruly child might “hire” a school that prioritizes structure.

NAIS has conducted several JTBD analyses regarding independent schools. NAIS researchers, when applying JTBD methodology to independent school teachers, found that these teachers fell into three jobs. This report will explain the teacher Jobs in detail, using stories from teachers as well as data from the 2023 State of the American Teacher Survey, administered by the RAND Corporation to the 1,439 American Teacher Panel members. Additional resources are provided at the end of the report.

The three teacher Jobs represent three teacher goals: making an impact, feeling trusted, and finding work-life balance. How—and whether—these goals are met help determine whether teachers will stay at the job or choose to move on.

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