School Environment Crucial to Teacher and Student Success

December 03, 2019 • Keith McLemore

School Environment Crucial to Teacher and Student Success

Research suggests that the most important factor in teacher success is the school environment.

In an Education Week opinion piece, Susan Moore Johnson contrasts the results of her own studies against the results of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation experiment, which focused on building an effective teaching force but failed to produce significant improvement in student outcomes.

Johnson, the Jerome T. Murphy Research Professor in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education,  found that student growth was greatest in schools with work environments that teachers assessed favorably. According to Johnson, effectively organized schools with collaborative elements like collegial interaction, growth opportunities, and schoolwide structures to support student learning will be more successful when it comes to student achievement and teacher retention. In contrast, Johnson found teachers in demographically similar schools with top-down mandates reported lower scores regarding the work environment and lower levels of student growth.

Johnson reports that effective campuses implement the following:

  • Engage current teachers in selecting new colleagues
  • Encourage teacher collaboration during common planning time
  • Review student progress as a team and respond with tailored support

For more information on the topic, check out Susan Moore Johnson’s Where Teachers Thrive.

Keith McLemore is a compensation and HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Keith an email at

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Tagged: "Employee performance", Retention, "Teacher shortage"