Source: Yeshiva University
Jewish day schools in the United States face a shortage of qualified early-career teachers. This may be largely related to the rate at which they leave the profession within the first five years. Working conditions, especially those that provide more academic and emotional support, opportunities to develop teaching skills, and opportunities for career advancement, are prime factors in teachers’ decisions to remain in their positions. Research on Jewish education suggests that additional factors associated with educators’ backgrounds as well as working conditions specific to this sector are powerful reasons for choosing Jewish education as a career which raises the questions of how well the types of supports posited by research in general education serve the needs of those in Jewish day schools, which of those best serve such needs, whether teachers in Jewish day schools also need different supports, which elements of mentoring most influence job satisfaction and retention for this unique population.
This mixed-methods study examined possible relationships between mentoring, job satisfaction, and anticipated turnover in a sample of 39 beginning teachers in Modem Orthodox Jewish day schools, 11 of whom participated in semi-structured follow-up interviews. It was predicted that perceived quality of mentoring would be positively associated with job satisfaction and negatively associated with turnover intentions.
Findings of this study indicate that on average, participants’ mentoring needs were just short of sufficiently met. Participants roughly agreed with statements indicating job satisfaction; and they slightly disagreed with or were uncertain about how likely they would be to leave their current job. Mentoring experiences were moderately to strongly correlated with job satisfaction and moderately to strongly, negatively correlated with anticipated turnover. Job satisfaction had a strong negative correlation with anticipated turnover.
In interviews, beginning teachers cited limited career trajectory as the most often mentioned reason for indecision regarding intention to leave or remain. Despite literature emphasizing the importance of Jewish values as a factor in career choice, findings of this study suggest that workplace conditions, particularly limited career paths, are an important and possibly primary contributor for indecision regarding staying or leaving.