What Keeps Teachers In and What Drives Them Out: How Urban Public, Urban Catholic, and Jewish Day Schools Affect Beginning Teachers’ Careers

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Jun. 01, 2013

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 115, No. 6, June 2013, pages 1-36.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The author explores the important roles that school leaders and school environment play in supporting or inhibiting teachers’ initial commitments to teaching in urban public, Catholic, and Jewish schools.

In particular, the author identifies the main factors that seem to support or inhibit teachers’ decision to stay in a school, move to a different school, or leave teaching altogether.
The author also describes how the teachers negotiate their role and career commitments as beginning teachers vis-à-vis their school leaders and peers.

Participants
Thirty beginning teachers were randomly selected to participate in this longitudinal study.
The participants graduated from three teacher education programs located at elite colleges: DeLeT (Master of Education in Teacher Leadership) at Brandeis University,
ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education) at the University of Notre Dame, and UTEP (Urban Teacher Education Program) at the University of Chicago.
Their age ranged from 23 to 27.
Furthermore, most of them were females (22) and 8 were males.

Findings

The findings reveal that the teachers who did not receive adequate support from administrators and peers, regardless of their school affiliation, were more likely to leave their initial school placements early on.
Furthermore, even when other factors were visible, administration support and professional community seem to have shaped teachers’ plans in a profound way.

In addition, a few teachers—from those who stayed at their schools—who described a school environment similar to the integrated professional culture.
These teachers were from DeLeT and UTEP; none were from ACE.
They reported working in schools that acknowledged their status as beginning teachers and put structures in place to support their professional growth through extensive mentoring, collaboration, observations, and feedback from peers and leaders, and by allowing new teachers space to experiment and fail.

Conclusions

The study has shown that behind the statistics about the factors affecting beginning teachers to stay, move, or leave, there are complex interactions that guide teachers’ decisions.
The study also demonstrates that teachers from elite colleges who were recruited and prepared for teaching in a specific school sector might develop powerful commitments to their schools, their students, the community, and to teaching, which could result in longer teaching service.

Finally, the findings still suggest that preparation can have some effect on teachers’ preparedness to
1) teach in culturally diverse environments and/or
2) adapt to challenging demands in hard-to-staff schools.
The author believes that over the years, preparation and school conditions get tightly interwoven with each other.

Updated: Jun. 12, 2013
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