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Career Decisions of Independent School Teachers

Title: Career Decisions of Independent School Teachers.
Name(s): Collins, Andrew L., Jr., author
Rutledge, Stacey, professor directing dissertation
Southerland, Sherry, university representative
Iatarola, Patrice, committee member
Irvin, Judith, committee member
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2011
Publisher: Florida State University
Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Researchers have given extensive consideration to public school teachers' retention. Yet, despite independent schools enrolling approximately 12% of our nation's students, the work that has been completed on teachers at independent schools and the influences of their career decisions is limited (Ingersoll, 2004; Pugh, 2007). The purpose of my study was to explore the career decisions of teachers at one independent school to understand issues facing independent school leaders as they meet the challenges of teacher retention. Independent school leaders need to understand the influences that attract and retain high quality teachers so they can better meet their mission and better serve their students. My study examines the following questions: 1. What are the factors that influence teachers at one independent school to move to other schools? 2. What are the factors that influence teachers at one independent school to remain at this school? 3. What are the factors that influence teachers at one independent school to leave the teaching profession? Since the discussion involving independent schools has been so limited, my literature review begins with a brief overview of independent schools in the U.S. today. The literature review then provides research related to public schools to better understand the empirical research related to teacher retention. The literature review also includes studies of non-traditional public schools and independent schools. As non-traditional public schools operate similarly to independent schools, the literature served as a bridge between research on public schools and the few studies focusing on independent schools. My study is a case study of one independent school. The study includes an anonymous pre-interview questionnaire for all teachers at the school to secure a baseline for the school and to assist in determining appropriate questions for the interviews and validate the questions during the interviews with the teachers and administrators. The interviews had specific questions but allowed for answers to be explained or explored further. I interviewed six teachers who are still at the school site (stayers), six former teachers who took a job with another school (movers), and six who left the profession (leavers). The transcriptions from all the interviews were coded for themes and used NVivo 9.0 software application to assist in the qualitative analysis of the interviews. The themes were grouped and a narrative was given in regards to their relationships with the literature review. My study found teachers were most influenced by philosophical approaches, autonomy, environment, and personal reasons in their career decisions. Movers wanted to work at a school that matched either their professional philosophical approach to teaching or their personal philosophical approach on social issues. Movers were dedicated to teaching, but felt another school would better meet their current personal needs. Stayers remained at the independent school in my study due to the autonomy in their classroom. This was particularly important to teachers who had taught in public schools. All stayers stated that the school's environment was important in that it was a family-oriented setting and that it was extremely conducive for learning. All stayers in my study had always wanted to be a teacher and were committed to teaching until retirement. The leavers in my study seemed to be most influenced by either professional preferences or personal reasons outside the school's control. Three leavers loved their subject areas, but found a way to remain in the subject field but in another profession. My study suggests that independent school leaders should consider teachers who match their schools' philosophical approaches to education. This search for the right philosophical fit seemed to keep teachers or motivate movers to try another setting. Independent school leaders should consider the autonomy given to their teachers. The most attractive component for all the teachers in my study was having the autonomy in their classroom. My study suggests school leaders should foster an environment that promotes family and collegial support among administrators, teachers, students, and parents. My study also suggests that schools should consider professional opportunities for their teachers. All teachers stated that professional opportunities either did or would have a significant influence on their decisions. Finally, school leaders may be able to keep teachers if they find out why they want to teach. If it is just for the subject matter, my study suggests that's not enough to keep them, but my study found that teachers most committed to teaching had always wanted to teach, even if they chose teaching as a second career.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-4775 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of education.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2011.
Date of Defense: October 28, 2011.
Keywords: teacher attrition, teacher mobility, teacher recruitment, teacher retention, teacher turnover
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Stacey Rutledge, Professor Directing Dissertation; Sherry Southerland, University Representative; Patrice Iatarola, Committee Member; Judith Irvin, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Educational leadership
Education and state
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Host Institution: FSU

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Collins, A. L. (2011). Career Decisions of Independent School Teachers. Retrieved from