This study addresses how teacher candidates committed to a social-justice-oriented urban teacher residency programme articulate and reflect why they want to be teachers in high-need public schools and what they expect from teaching so as to ascertain what they expect to do.
The participants of this study included 77 graduates who participated in four cohorts of an urban teacher residency programme from 2010 through 2014.
Employing a qualitative case study design, the authors analysed 77 sets of admissions essays, which were completed as part of the residency application process.
Building on their analysis of candidates’ admissions essays through inductive coding, the authors find that candidates’ reflections on why they want to be teachers in high-need public schools and what they expect to do, stem from their beliefs in their role as a teacher and their beliefs about the role of education.
Such reflections are grounded in beliefs of teacher activism, pupil activism, and advocacy for pupils who have been marginalised due to systemic inequalities.
The study illuminates committed teachers’ reasons for entering the teaching profession so as to inform better recruitment strategies, and has implications for how initial teacher education (ITE) programmes could specifically improve their professional preparation and practices to recruit and retain qualified teachers who intend to stay.