FACTORS AFFECTING TEACHER TURNOVER AND RETENTION
Gloria Geraldine Hester Maddox
B.S., University of Colorado, 1975
M.A., University of Colorado
at Colorado Springs, 1981
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Administration, Supervision, and Curriculum Development
This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
Gloria Geraldine Hester Maddox
has been approved
Many people have contributed directly and indirectly to this
dissertation. Words cannot express the feelings of gratitude l have for those
who have helped to make this research a reality. I am indebted to my
advisor, Dr. L A. Napier, for her unfailing confidence and support that I could
complete the task.
Appreciation also goes to the other members of my dissertation
committee for their sage counsel and infinite support:
Dr. Michael Martin Dr. Sharon Ford
Dr. Stacy Kalamaros Dr. Joy Berrenberg
To those teachers and former teachers who so willingly encouraged
this research by their participation, to my colleagues who never doubted that
I would complete this project, I want to say thank you for your cooperation
and the time you unselfishly gave. Truly, without your help, this study would
have been impossible.
Special gratitude is given to my family and friends who put up with my
crazy schedules, the trips to and from Denver; thank you for understanding
how important it was for me to finish this project.
Finally, this dissertation is dedicated to my husband, Edsel, whose
love, encouragement and faith that I could complete this undertaking, and
whose understanding made this endeavor possible.
Maddox, Gloria Geraldine Hester (PhD., Administration, Supervision, and
Factors Affecting Teacher Turnover and Retention
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor L. A. Napier
This study investigated the main factors affecting turnover in the
teaching profession. Research indicates that many teachers are dissatisfied
with their jobs. For various reasons some leave, while others remain. What
is there within the profession that makes some teachers stay in teaching
while others leave or become disenchanted or feel entrapped in their
careers? This study attempted to ascertain if proper induction, a supportive
environment, physical attributes, organizational climate, and empowerment
can curtail the exodus of teachers from the profession and increase the
retention rate of quality teachers.
Participants in this study were 60 teachers and former teachers from
elementary schools through high schools. The review of the research and
evidence from teacher interviews indicate numerous causes for teacher
turnover. The absence of teacher empowerment, the lack of administrative,
community, student, and parental support, a sense of alienation, feelings of
entrapment, and burnout are among those factors. Conversely, those
schools which had a supportive administrative staff, where facilities were
adequate, where discipline was enforced, where teachers were empowered,
and where teachers felt valued and safe, satisfied teachers remained.
Leaving or quitting may be manifested through several types of
behavior. A basic model of multiple withdrawal form was used in this study:
Dworkins Model of Turnover. This model specifies a continuum of
withdrawal forms. Job satisfaction is dependent upon the opportunities
presented. When these do not occur, the commitment lessens, and the
intent to leave becomes evident. If new employment opportunities are few,
then disenchantment or entrapment is perceived, and an unhappy employee
remains on the job. The predominant concern about turnovers
consequences in this study was the impact on the individual, the staffs
morale, and the cost to the district.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I
recommend its publication.
1. INTRODUCTION ................................................ 1
Introduction of the Problem.................................1
Background of the Problem................................3
Importance of the Problem...................................5
Statement of the Problem....................................7
Purpose and Need for the Study...........................8
Theoretical Framework.................................... 13
Limitations of the Study.................................. 15
Definitions of Terms..................................... 16
2. LITERATURE REVIEW............................................. 19
Teacher Empowerment...................................... 19
Organizational Climate.................................... 22
Alienation ............................................... 25
Entrapment ............................................... 30
Burnout .................................................. 32
Conclusions .............................................. 35
3. METHODOLOGY...................................................... 37
Introduction ................................................. 37
Sampling Procedures .......................................... 38
Stratification ............................................... 39
Pilot Interviews ............................................. 40
The Telephone Interviews ..................................... 43
Instrument ................................................... 44
Collection of Data............................................ 51
Analysis of Data.............................................. 51
Validity and Reliability...................................... 52
4. PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS............................ 55
Presentation of Data ......................................... 57
Demographic Data.......................................... 58
Question 1............................................. 59
Question 2............................................. 60
Question 3 ............................................ 61
Question 4 ............................................ 63
Question 5 ............................................ 63
Question 6............................................. 65
Question 7 ............................................ 66
Professional Involvement ................................. 67
Question 8 ............................................ 68
Question 9 ............................................ 69
Question 10.......................................... 71
Question 11.......................................... 73
Question 12.......................................... 74
Question 13.......................................... 76
Question 14.......................................... 78
Question 15.......................................... 80
Question 16.......................................... 81
Career Commitment....................................... 82
Question 17.......................................... 83
Question 18.......................................... 84
For Those Who Have Left Teaching ........................ 86
Question 19.......................................... 86
Question 20.......................................... 87
Question 21.......................................... 89
Question 22.......................................... 90
Question 23.......................................... 92
Question 24.......................................... 93
Question 25.......................................... 94
For Those Who Are Still Excited about Teaching........... 95
Question 26.......................................... 96
Question 27.......................................... 97
Question 28.......................................... 98
Question 29......................................... 100
Question 30......................................... 101
For Those Who Are Disenchanted With Teaching............103
Question 33....................................... 105
Question 34....................................... 106
Question 35....................................... 107
Question 36........................................ 108
Question 37........................................ 109
Question 38....................................... 111
5. Summary, Findings, Recommendations, and Conclusions.........117
Statement of the Problem.............................. 118
Theoretical Framework................................. 122
Interview Schedule.................................... 123
Demographic Data...................................... 126
Professional Involvement ...............................128
For Those Who Have Left Teaching........................133
For Those Who Are Still Excited About Teaching..........134
For Those Who Are Disenchanted With Teaching..... 136
Interpretation of Findings....................... 138
Implications of Findings......................... 141
Recommendations and Recommendations for Further
A. TEACHER INTERVIEW QUESTIONS........................ 150
B. RESPONSE SURVEY FORM............................... 153
C. RESPONSE SURVEY FORM............................... 154
D. REQUEST LETTER TO DISENCHANTED AND STAYERS......... 155
E. REQUEST LETTER TO LEAVERS.......................... 156
F. RESPONSE SURVEY CONTINUUM FORM..................... 157
G. RESPONSE SURVEY CATEGORY FORM...................... 158
H. RESPONSE SURVEY FORM PARTICIPANT NUMBER............ 159
I. CATEGORIES FOR LEAVERS, STAYERS, DISENCHANTED......160
J. DWORKINS MODEL OF TURNOVER........................ 162
K. PARTICIPANTS FULL TEXT RESPONSES................... 163
Those Who Have Left the Profession............... 163
Those Who Are Still Excited About Teaching....... 223
Those Who Are Disenchanted With Teaching......... 274
REFERENCES .............................................. 331
This purpose of the study was to explore the variables which may or
may not affect teachers in their decisions to remain in teaching, to leave the
profession, or to feel disenchanted in their career choices. It also examined
ways in which districts may prevent the exodus of experienced teachers.
Questions that were addressed are as follows: Will proper induction
curtail the exodus of teachers? How can empowerment (giving teachers a
greater voice in the decisions that affect the school) and a positive
organizational climate (the atmosphere, culture, quality of life, and the tone
of an organization) assist in retaining the best teachers? What part does a
supportive administrator play in breaking the link between teacher stress
and burnout? What can be done to encourage those experienced, yet
disenchanted teachers who have many years invested in retirement? Are
teachers expectations clarified and being met? Are teachers provided with
opportunities to enhance their abilities in their profession? Finally, personal
and professional demographic data was collected for the purpose of
obtaining a more clear background picture of these teachers.
Introduction of the Problem
One of the main thrusts of reform in the United States today is
directed to the retention of good teachers (Firestone and Bader, 1991).
Each year many young people enter various teacher education programs
and spend countless hours in preparation for their entry into the teacher
profession. However, retaining good teachers has become a significant
challenge for many school districts. What contributes to the burnout and
turnover of teachers?
Retention is a major concern of school districts (Mumane, 1975).
When turnovers occur, school districts forfeit the investments they have
made in seminars, inservices, and staff development. Since those teachers
who leave are usually replaced by beginning teachers, school districts are
faced with the financial costs of training the new personnel to meet district
requirements (Wise, 1990).
Approximately one of every four students who complete a teacher
preparation program never enters a teaching career or leaves teaching
within the first 5 years (Peters, 1990). These statistics can be even more
alarming when they are linked to another suggestion: the most qualified new
teachers may be the first to leave. In one study, teachers with the highest
scores on the National Teacher Exam were found to leave at twice the rate
of teachers with lower scores (Schlechty and Vance, 1981). Lieberman
(1988) explains what action school districts must take.
If we are to retain our better teachers, then teachers must have
opportunities to take on more responsibilities, more decision-
making power, and more accountability for the results. They
must also be paid higher salaries, in due recognition of the
complexity and significance of their work. (p. 649)
What has occurred within the system to make the teaching profession
the vulnerable occupation that it is today? In her formal study, Careers in
the Classroom. Yee (1990) notes that teachers feel unsupported by parents,
students, and administrators. Teachers are vilified by the press. They are
often asked to do additional coverages without remuneration. There are
little or no opportunities for promotion (Yee, 1990).
According to Lortie (1975), teaching is a special but shadowed
occupation. He explains:
Teaching seems to have more than its share of status anomalies.
It is honored and disdained, praised, as dedicated service and
lampooned as easy work. It is permeated with the rhetoric of
professionalism, yet features incomes below those earned by
workers with considerably less education. It is middle-class work
in which more and more participants use collective bargaining
strategies developed by wage earners in factories, (p. 10).
Background of the Problem
As early as 1932, Waller noted that teachers were more likely to leave
their jobs than were workers in many other service occupations. Using
nationwide data, Mason (1961) reported that teacher turnover among public
school teachers exceeded that of other professions, even during the time
when few career opportunities were open to college-educated women.
Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, teacher turnover rates created
critical shortages and also presented severe organizational problems for
Though teacher shortages were reduced during the late 1970s and
early 1980s, the demands for teachers during the second part of that
decade again taxed the supply (Dworkin, 1987). Maeroff (1988) maintains
that teacher empowerment is essential to teacher retention and self esteem,
and without it, the better qualified teachers will seek other professions.
Duke (1990) believes that school districts help to contribute to turnover
because teachers are not given more of a voice in school governance.
Moreover, teachers derive their most intrinsic rewards from efforts to reach
students. They want more involvement in the decision-making which more
closely relates to students, curriculum, and instruction.
In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education
produced A Nation at Risk which called for a new focus on the roles of
teachers. A clarion call for more effective schools by the Carnegie Forum
(1986), the Holmes Report (1986), and the Educational Commission of the
States (1986) brought to the nations attention the needed change in teacher
education. Heyns, in her 1988 study of teacher attrition, concluded that even
if we enhance teachers professional status and improve public schools, we
may not reduce teacher attrition. She identifies what must be done.
Efforts to improve the quality of teaching must overcome a long list
of problems, but attacking each one individually will not lead to
substantial improvement. Instead, it is important to identify the
underlying factors that affect efforts to recruit and retain the most
intellectually capable teachers, develop fully the talent, intellect,
and creativity of the present teacher force, and encourage all
teachers to give their best to their careers. In this regard, the
following factors are especially important: (a) support for teaching,
(b) collaboration among teachers, (c) teacher influence, (d)
recognition and advancement, and (e) additional out-of-class
working time. (Cited in Firestone and Bader, 1991, p. 120)
As most schools are now structured, principals have few rewards to
give to teachers. These may include attendance to a conference, perhaps a
membership on a district wide committee, a good class, or a chance to
serve as a mentor (Lieberman, 1988). There are really very few promotions
which can be offered to teachers. Team Leaders, Department Chairpersons
or Teacher/Leader Coordinators are three areas where teachers may serve
in addition to their teaching jobs, but the pay is only about 4% of the base
salary for teachers. Those Teachers on Special Assignments (TOSA) still
make the same salaries as they did when in the classrooms; they are just on
leave from the classrooms for a specified amount of time. There are very few
promotions which can be offered to teachers. Any advancement usually
occurs when the teacher becomes an administrator which means that the
teacher leaves the classroom.
Importance of the Problem
What effect does teacher turnover have on the work force? The
decision to terminate employment may be perceived by colleagues as a
rejection of the profession and evidence of better opportunities elsewhere.
Those remaining in the field might question their decisions to stay and
develop a negative attitude toward their employers or jobs as a result.
Turnover also creates both benefits and costs. Excessive turnovers present
the employers with economic costs, loss of productivity, and time spent in the
training of the employees (Murphy, 1991). Yet some turnovers allow burned
out teachers to take early retirement and permit the hiring of new teachers
who bring a revitalization of ideas and skills to the profession (Steers and
Mowday, 1981). What can be done to reduce the problems brought on by
In his 1991 policy paper on school reforms, Murphy concluded:
First, many teachers lack a sense of efficacy or confidence that
they can alter outcomes through their own efforts. Second,
teachers are alienated or self-estranged from their work. Third,
because of conditions of uncertainty and vulnerability, teachers
have adopted a series of self-defensive measures that have
become regularized norms. Fourth, successful reforms need to
alter teaching jobs in such a way that they increase efficacy, reduce
alienation, and lessen uncertainty and vulnerability, (p. 19)
According to Firestone and Bader (1991), the longer a teacher works
in an environment in which these problems exist, the greater the chances of
that teachers leaving. It is imperative that school districts continue to
develop and support those teachers presently in the classroom. These
authors stress site-based management and teacher empowerment as two of
the more influential measures in teacher retention. Historically, teaching has
had a higher average turnover than most professions; however, now a new
phenomenon has emerged. Career teachers, those in their 30s and 40s,
are leaving the profession (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991).
Why is it important to consider changing the way teachers are
retained? Wise (1990) gives us the most important reason.
...America needs talented, well educated young people who are
willing to become teachers. Schools can no longer be staffed the
good old-fashioned way, by denying other opportunities to talented
women and talented members of minority groups. The job itself
must be made more attractive so that it will attract talent. The
problem is especially grave because the demand for teachers is
rising just as the supply is beginning to run low. (p. 301)
Gehrke (1987) describes where school districts should direct their focus.
Factors that lead teachers to give up on teaching also influence
students to drop out of school; the actual behaviors and attitudes
exhibited by alienated students and burned-out teachers also
are similar. If school districts devote extensive time and effort
identifying the prospective student drop out and working diligently
to hold that individual in school, then equal effort should be
devoted to identifying the possible "Leaver candidates from
among the teaching ranks. Sound teacher induction and retention
programs can reduce isolation, increase autonomy, accountability,
and knowledge, (p. 121)
Statement of the Problem
Factors affecting teacher turnover and retention which lead to the
disaffection of teachers with their profession are to be examined in this
study. Teacher induction and retention is a topic of growing interest to many
educational leaders. Salaries, job satisfaction, opportunity for promotions,
and genuine respect for the profession also need to be addressed (Smith,
1986). In part, this interest was stimulated by the continuing push for quality
education and quality teaching (Peters, 1990). The educational reform
movement which began in the early 80s generated genuine concern in
improving the schools and teachers. However, the reform movement may
be doomed if the policy makers do not take it seriously and change the
manner in which schools are governed (McElrath, 1988).
Research conducted by LeCompte and Dworkin (1991) indicates that
there are psychological, economical, and sociological reasons for teachers'
leaving the field. Insights need to be gleaned from teachers who are
possible or likely leavers from the profession. Yee (1990) indicates that
Likely Leavers exhibit certain quitting" behaviors. They isolate themselves
from other teachers; they are frequently absent; they are less motivated to
attend after school activities, and they have lost their excitement about
teaching. Many are experiencing stress and exhaustion. When this occurs,
these teachers begin to look at other job opportunities. If administrators are
alert to the stress their teachers are experiencing, then some action can be
taken to assist the teachers. Some administrators provide a safety valve for
teachers in the form of nonteaching roles that effectively reduce the
individuals workload. Others offer a leave of absence or counseling. The
education profession has a responsibility to help teachers realize the
potential satisfactions of teaching and provide an avenue for teachers to
revitalize their careers (Yee, 1990).
Yee (1990) also profiles what the Stayer looks like. She states that
initial career attitudes are measured by teachers reasons for entering
teaching. Some enter because they have a positive attraction to teaching -
for example, a desire to work with young people, a commitment to service, a
talent for a particular subject, or an inspiration from former teachers. Stayers
are still excited about their jobs, punctual, eager to sponsor after school
activities, and have a strong sense of efficacy. They appear to be self-
sufficient and organized. They have a voice in governance and find a great
deal of satisfaction in their work. Stayers indicate that they have received
positive reinforcement and feedback from their administrators and have a
sense of self-worth. They feel valued and appreciated. Professional
involvement plays a key role in shaping the career outcomes of Stayers.
Purpose and Need for the Study
The purpose of this study was to explore the variables which may or
may not affect teachers in their decisions to remain in teaching, to leave the
profession, or to feel disenchanted in their career choices. It also examined
ways in which districts may prevent the exodus of teachers. In researching
the question of turnover and its effect on school districts, no qualitative
research was identified concerning leavers, stayers, or those who are
disenchanted with the profession.
Recommendations have been made in other dissertations to do a
study of this nature. Hittie, in her 1989 quantitative study, Teacher Burnout
and Teacher Incentive Program Participation in Richland County School
District Two suggested that further research be conducted to examine the
variables that impact a teachers work environment and level of teacher
enthusiasm. A second suggestion was to explore a possible link between
level of teacher enthusiasm and incentive program participation. A third
recommendation was to look at conditions that interfere with or detract from
teaching activities and meaningful student-teacher interactions, such as
excessive paperwork, additional duties, classroom interruptions, collegial
interaction, discipline, supportive environments or participation in the
In the 1990 quantitative study, An Investigation of the Relationship
Between Perceived Teacher Burnout and Organizational Climate in
Elementary Schools. Harrison recommended further probing into the linking
of student achievement to administrative styles, climate, teacher burnout or
stress. Another suggested study might be Does a teachers length of stay in
education or teaching in a local school differ depending upon the climate of
the school? (p. 116).
Additional ethnographic studies have been recommended by
Melenyzer in her 1990 study Teacher Empowerment: The Discourse.
Meanings, and Social Actions of Teachers. According to Melenyzer,
qualitative studies might be initiated in order to determine whether the
themes identified by the teachers in her study are similar to other teachers
definitions and social actions of empowerment.
Ashby, in her 1989 paper, Empowering Teachers: The Kev to School
Based Reform, recommended using qualitative assessment measures to
afford a more accurate evaluation of the school renewal process in retaining
teachers. She also suggested that proper induction of new teachers may be
a key factor in reducing teacher turnover.
Data gathered by this researcher will be useful to school districts in
the hiring of teachers. The knowledge generated will also be valuable at the
local level in determining and eliminating the sources which lead to teacher
turnover thus providing for better continuity in curriculum and instruction.
Moreover, if school districts allocate thousands of dollars to prevent dropouts
from among student population, why should they not equally expend time,
money, and effort in preventing teacher turnover? Districts need to consider
the worth of the investment.
This study attempted to ascertain if proper induction, a supportive
environment, physical attributes, organizational climate, and empowerment
can decrease teacher turnover and increase the retention rate of teachers. It
also determined what, if any, extrinsic reinforcers influence teachers to stay.
Data were collected through telephone interviews. This method was
used because it is less costly than face-to-face interviews. Furthermore,
telephone interviews can be conducted daytime or evenings, permitting
unlimited callbacks. This method also allows the respondent to feel at ease
in his/her own home which can yield more candid responses (Isaac and
Michael, 1990). The telephone interview has also been determined by
Lavrakas (1986) to be an appropriate method of collecting material. Its
format works well in facilitating the collection of qualitative data. Likewise,
the telephone interview method was successfully employed in two recent
dissertations (Sible, 1993; Napier, 1989).
Information was collected through telephone interviews with teachers
who have left the teaching profession, teachers who are still excited about
the profession, teachers who feel disenchanted, and those teachers who
have entertained the idea of leaving, but have chosen to remain in the
teaching field. Additional data were gathered from remaining teachers
about the effect that Leavers have on their morale. Data were collected
from only those teachers who have been in the profession three years or
more. Elementary, middle, and high school male and female teachers from
all disciplines were included in the sample.
The study focused on one school district. The decision was made
because of the intense interest the district has in induction and retention of
its teachers. Since student achievement is among the highest in the nation,
the district wants to minimize turnover so as to continue the high quality of
instruction so prevalent here. The district was willing to help facilitate this
study by providing a list of teachers who have left the district and also by
permitting the researcher to send letters to all teachers within the district
requesting their participation in this study. The districts desire was to obtain
information that may be helpful to them in retaining a qualified faculty.
Subjects were selected at random from those teachers who returned
the response card, indicating they were willing to be a part of this study. The
researcher met with the District Director of Personnel who suggested that a
meeting with all administrators might help facilitate the gathering of data.
Administrators recommended that invitations to be part of this survey be
sent via district mailing to all teachers (approximately 800) who have been in
the profession for three years or more. Participation cards were included in
the packet which were returned to the researcher by potential respondents.
Responses were received from 278 teachers who stated they wanted to be a
part of this study. Sixty subjects from those 278 who responded in the
affirmative were randomly selected to be interviewed. This included 30
elementary and 30 secondary teachers. Of each set of 30, 10 were leavers,
10 consisted of those teachers still excited about their profession, and 10
included those disenchanted with teaching. The Response Card is so
designed that teachers were able to check if they are still excited about
teaching or disenchanted. A continuum was included so that teachers could
mark where they are on the scale: entrapped, disenchanted, somewhat
disenchanted, satisfied, or still excited.
Three pilot interviews were conducted to validate the length of time
and the methodology to be used. This technique was proven to be
successful in the Sible (1993) and Napier (1989) studies. The pilot
interviews were necessary to assess the appropriateness of the questions,
the limitations of time, and the responses. Necessary adjustments were
made to the interview schedule, the method of collecting information, and
reporting instruments upon completion of the pilot interviews.
A semistructured interview schedule was used for this study. This
type of interview was built around a core of structured questions from which
the interviewer branched off to explore in depth. Accurate and complete
information is desired with the additional opportunity to probe for underlying
factors or relationships which are too complex or elusive to encompass in
more straight-forward questions (Isaac and Michael, 1990). There are no
preset answers from which to choose. There is, however, verbal interaction
between the interviewer and the respondent. Open-ended questions allow
for more elaboration and individualized responses. They also produced
thought-provoking and interesting answers.
If the interview schedules are not focused, too much superfluous
information would be collected. Data overload would then compromise the
efficiency and power of the analysis (Miles and Huberman, 1984). Therefore,
all questions will be asked in the same order and wording. This permits the
researcher to assure that scope and sequence of the discourse will be
followed. Several questions were prompted by the recommendations and
data of the Sible (1993) dissertation. Others were developed from relevant
literature. A more detailed description of the methods to be used and the
questions to be asked is discussed in Chapter 3, Methodology.
Dworkins (1987) model of employee turnover was used in the design
of this dissertation proposal. The teacher enters the teaching profession
with certain expectations and becomes engaged in the job. These
expectations include becoming a contributing member of the faculty, making
a difference with students, receiving a specified salary for services rendered,
receiving adequate benefits, having opportunities to grow, attending
workshops, and being challenged to do his or her best. If the teachers
expectations are met, then that teacher will become a stayer. When
expectations are not met, the employee begins to feel dissatisfied or
alienated. The disaffected teacher looks at his or her skills and seeks other
job opportunities. If there are none available, then teacher may feel
entrapped. When other job opportunities are available, that dissatisfied
teacher becomes a likely leaver, and will probably eventually leave the
profession, unless too much time has been invested toward retirement.
Utilizing Dworkins (1987) model, this investigator looked at the
expectations, organizational experiences, job satisfactions, commitment,
and intentions for those who have been identified as Stayers, Leavers, and
those Disenchanted. According to Dworkin (1987), the same factors that
lead teachers to quit teaching also cause students to drop out of school.
They feel powerless, personally isolated, and culturally estranged all
components of alienation. When this occurs, teachers begin to look at ways
to alleviate their stress. They look for new job opportunities, and if there are
some available, the teachers leave for new careers. It is a difficult decision
to make, but one these teachers seem to have to make. The question: Will
Leavers, Stayers, and the Entrapped or Disenchanted come to the same
conclusion that climate, supportive environment, extrinsic rewards,
empowerment, and efficacy are major variables in retaining teachers?
Smith (1986) found that teachers of various academic ability hold
different expectations and evaluate their work environments differently.
Rhodes (1989) learned that redesigning work structures can alter the
alienation states of teachers, and these reforms may successfully influence
those who have a high sense of performance efficacy to stay in the
Limitations of the Study
The sample was limited to those teachers who are still excited about
their chosen profession, those teachers who feel disenchanted with their
profession, and those who have left teaching. It did not address teachers
who have been dismissed from their positions or teachers who have less
than three years of teaching experience. The reason for this is that teachers
who have been dismissed would likely have a negative attitude towards the
district or an administrator and may not be able to be objective in their
responses. Teachers who have been teaching fewer than three years may
not have had enough time to become inculturated into the system or may still
be infatuated with the idea of teaching.
This study was directed towards seasoned teachers who could
provide a rich resource. All of the respondents who participated in the
sample did so on a voluntary basis; therefore, the sample would not be
representative. Since all data are based on interviews, they are limited to
what the subjects chose to reveal to the interviewer. The study addressed
those teachers who have left the profession for reasons other than spouse
transfer or family concerns, since these teachers have left on their own
volition or for reasons beyond their control. Teachers who were keyed for
non renewal were not a part of this study, nor were teacher evaluations a
part. This researcher also did not know the quality of the teachers who left
the district since this information was not shared by the district.
Subjects were selected from only one school district which is highly
motivated to retain its teachers. The findings in this study may be different
from a study conducted in a not-so-highly motivated district. It is a suburban
district having 14,825 students in its population and a total of 997 certified
employees: 261 male and 736 female. There are 13 elementary schools, 4
middle schools, and 4 high schools. A new high school will open in the fall
of 1998. The student -teacher classroom ratio is 27:1. It is a select
community which requires employees to possess multi-degrees and whose
spouses are usually well-educated. Another limitation is that the study
applies only to how this particular district inducts and retains its staff.
Definition of Terms
Alienation Alienation is self-estrangement that results from perceptions of
external work conditions. It breaks down into four dimensions:
meaninglessness, powerlessness, normlessness, and isolation
Burnout Career burnout is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, reduced
personal accomplishment, and depersonalization (Maslach and
Jackson, 1986). Basically, burnout occurs when individuals reach
their adaptability limit ...a condition which results in a total loss of
energy for teaching. Teacher burnout creates a reaction whereby the
individual can no longer effectively cope or adapt to the situation or
Entrapment Feeling trapped in an organization with no way out. One
cannot leave because of investment of time and retirement.
Expectations Anticipation of what is to occur in a new situation. It includes
receiving adequate benefits, opportunities to grow, compensatory
salaries, being a contributing employee, receiving recognition for a
job well done, good working conditions and hours, and supportive
Extrinsic Reinforcers -External incentives to bring about to strengthen or
change a persons behavior. Some examples: benefits, higher
salaries, working conditions, reasonable hours, opportunities for
promotion, etc. Negative reinforcers could be threats or intimidations.
Induction Providing support and an introduction of basic principles to new
teachers entering the profession. It embraces a definitive
understanding of a districts expectations for classroom management,
effective teaching techniques, and interpersonal relationships in order
to foster knowledge, skills, and attitudes in beginning teachers to
allow them to achieve success in the classroom.
Isolation Personal isolation sets the individual apart from other human
Meaninglessness This refers to a sense that the world is ...absurd, or it is
incomprehensible (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991, p. 3).
Nonsupportive Environment An educational environment where teachers
receive little overt praise and have insignificant input into the
decision-making activities of the school functions.
Normlessness Normlessness is a feeling that the rules that govern the
world either have disappeared or have become very ineffective
(LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991).
Organizational Clarity Clear, consistent information regarding duties,
responsibilities, rights, and goals.
Organizational Climate The perceived atmosphere, tone and quality of life
of an organization inferred by organization members from the social
and physical characteristics of the setting (Stem and Richman, 1975).
Physical Attributes These include building construction, supplies or lack of
supplies, expenditures, remoteness of schools, noise levels, and
Powerlessness Feelings that exist when people ...perceive that they have
no control over the events in their personal work or lives (LeCompte
and Dworkin, 1991, p. 3).
Supportive Environment The ambiance in which teachers are confirmed
that they are an accepted integral part of the school functions and are
given positive reinforcement on a regular basis.
Stress A force or factor causing mental or emotional strain or tension; the
physical or mental state resulting from such strain. Any perceived
event that causes a demand upon ones mind or body. The stressor
can be physical or psychological.
Teacher Empowerment Empowerment is viewed as ... giving teachers the
necessary responsibility that releases their potential and makes their
actions and decisions count (Sergiovanni, 1987, p. 317).
Turnover The number of workers hired by an establishment to replace
those who have left their employment. The degree of movement
across membership boundaries of a social system (Bluedom, 1982).
Vulnerability The susceptibility to attack, criticism, or censure.
Many state and regional studies investigating teacher turnover have
been conducted over the years. The review of the research indicates
numerous contributing factors for this problem. The absence of teacher
empowerment, organizational climate, a sense of alienation, feelings of
entrapment, and burnout are among those factors reviewed in Chapter 2.
Despite the centrality of the teachers role in determining what
happens in schools, many of the reports on school reform, beginning with A
Nation at Risk (1983), emphasized altering the outward structure a longer
school day, a longer school year, more of this subject, more of that subject.
Such changes hold promise and can be important, but in the end, it is the
teacher who is going to make the most significant difference. If elementary
and secondary education in the United States is to improve, it will be, more
than anything else, because of the part teachers play. Nonetheless, the
teachers role is often ignored (Maeroff, 1988a). Giving teachers a greater
voice in decisions that affect schools will make teaching more attractive to
teachers who are already in our schools, as well as people considering
teaching as a career (Carnegie Forum Task Force on Teaching, 1986).
Teachers are expected to act as professionals, but they are told to take on
tasks that are nonprofessional and decidedly demeaning. Asking teachers
to serve as cafeteria monitors, to serve on hall duty, or oversee the parking
lots or restrooms are not desirable duties for teachers (Maeroff, 1988b).
Taking their cues from the popular organizational effectiveness
literature (e.g. Peters and Waterman, 1983), educators have rallied en
masse behind the battle cry for faculty empowerment in restructured schools.
The rationale goes something like this: Each school serves a unique
student clientele. Therefore, top down governance, where goals and
procedures are decreed for many schools, is bound to fail. Teachers and
school administrators, as professionals, are best qualified to make decisions
affecting their unique student populations. Collective decisions that draw
upon the expertise of teacher-professionals in a given school are superior to
individual decisions made by an administrator (Blase and Kirby, 1992).
Glickman (1990) found evidence of improved student achievement,
lower dropout rates, gains in teachers critical thinking skills, and improved
school climate in Georgia schools that gave teachers a voice in school
governance. These outcomes were attributed to the pride that developed as
a result of teacher involvement and to a new manner in which teachers
viewed their work (Blase and Kirby, 1992).
There is a paradox in discussions of teachers and power. On the one
hand, teachers have more freedom in their work than do those in many other
occupations. What is it then that makes the situation different for teachers?
For one thing, most teaching is often practiced in isolation, except in the few
cases of team teaching. This isolation can be at times crushing in its
separateness. Collegiality is almost nonexistent for many teachers, unless
hurried twenty minute lunches are viewed as exercises in colleagueship.
Even when teachers have a personal planning time, it is usually taken up
with a parent, a counselor, an administrator, or a curriculum meeting
Teachers must be engaged in the decision-making about their own
professional growth. At both building and district levels, this needs to
happen in more powerful and convincing ways than simply assigning one
teacher to a staff development planning committee. In order for teachers to
be truly invested in their own growth, they must have a legitimate voice in the
creation, selection, evaluation, and reconstruction of the positions intended
to serve their needs (Wasley,1991).
Giving teachers greater power is a major way to make them more
professional and to improve their performance. Professionals usually have
a sense of authority about what they do and are recognized as experts in
their fields. The empowerment of teachers has to do with their individual
deportment, not their ability to boss others. It is the kind of power to exercise
ones craft with confidence and to help shape the way the job is to be done
(Maeroff, 1988a). This belief is also supported by the findings of the
Carnegie Forum Task Force on Teaching (1986):
Perceptive researchers have told us for years that teachers are
treated as if they have no expertise at all. An endless array of policies
succeed in constraining the exercise of the teachers independent
judgment on almost every matter of moment. There may be some
who believe that all this is fully justified by what they perceive as
teachers of inadequate ability, but the plain fact is that the many good
teachers we have are being driven out of teaching by such conditions,
and it will be impossible to attract many new people of real ability to
teaching until conditions are radically altered. ( p. 11)
Teams organized to conduct interactive research on schooling found
that what enabled some teachers to maintain positive attitudes about their
jobs was the freedom to be creative and innovative, the capacity to influence
students, opportunities for feedback, recognition and support, and the
chance to share with peers (Lieberman, 1986). Unfortunately, most school
districts have been slower than other organizations in manifesting the value
of cooperation among teachers and the structure of teaching and learning.
Despite important exceptions, schools are not organized in ways that
encourage creativity, teaming, sharing, and cooperation among their
teachers (Lieberman and Miller, 1991).
Organizational climate is defined as the perceived atmosphere, tone,
and quality of life of an organization inferred by organization members from
the social and physical characteristics of the setting (Stern and Richman,
1975). Studies by Forehand and Gilmer (1964) indicate that there are three
areas of organizational climate that affect a teachers decision whether to
stay or leave an organization: physical attributes, organizational clarity,
social interactions and supportive environments.
Physical attributes include how suitable a building is to its function,
when it was built, whether the school has the proper facilities or lacks the
necessary equipment or supplies, caseload size, and other restrictions.
They can contribute to a teachers burnout or turnover. Teachers working in
classrooms which are not adequately equipped with materials or overloaded
with students have a tendency to become overwhelmed and discouraged.
Large classes have been shown to be related to burnout or turnover
(Maslach, 1986; Olsen, 1988). Additionally, with inexperienced teachers,
assigned tasks and expectations, as well as having too many students in the
classroom, produced high levels of fatigue (Ayaion, 1989).
Few schools offer teachers appreciable funds for the purchase of
supplementary instructional materials or supplies. It is not uncommon for
public school teachers to lack basic resources such as textbooks and paper
(McLaughlin & Yee, 1988). Schools and teachers are often judged on the
basis of student outcomes, with little regard for the differences in resources
available to individual schools or teachers. Ironically, new teachers those
most in need of direct assistance are often least likely to receive the raw
materials necessary to teach (Kirby, 1991).
Organizational clarity is an important factor in the success of teachers.
Inconsistent or ambiguous information regarding rights, duties, goals, or
responsibilities can have an emotional impact on teachers that thwarts their
ability to be effective in the classroom (Schwab, Jackson, and Schuler,
1986). In a related study, the lack of role clarity produced feelings of
professional inadequacy among teachers (Zellefrow, 1987). Teachers felt
estranged from their jobs and began to experience alienation. They were
involved in activities which they deemed to be intrinsically unrewarding
(LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991).
Although there has been much talk about accountability and goal
specificity, it is still the case that the goals of education are vague and often
in conflict. Teachers are unsure of what is expected of them. Do teachers
teach to minimal levels of competence, or are they working to develop a
wide range of talents and possibilities? Do teachers value discipline or
learning, order and control or intellectual curiosity? What does the district
expect of them? Because of the confusion, individual teachers make their
own translations of policy and that is why, in general, the profession is
riddled by vagueness and conflict (Lieberman and Miller, 1991).
Expectations regarding ability, aptitude, values, and pedagogy are
not accepted unquestioningly. Teachers do not passively adopt their
principals values and beliefs and translate these into compatible teaching
behaviors that, in turn, affect student performance. Principals expectations
for changes in teacher attitudes and behaviors gain meaning and derive
influence only as they are interpreted and evaluated by teachers (Blase and
When teachers feel alienated, personal isolation sets them apart from
other human beings. Because of the structure of the school organization,
some individuals may be restricted in their social interactions. Socially
unsupportive organizations tend to discourage creativity and motivation.
The lack of recognition from principals makes teachers feel unappreciated
(LeCompteand Dworkin, 1991). Conversely, when an effective support
system includes administrators and colleagues who actively listen, provide
honest assessment, present challenges, provide emotional support and
encourage individual growth, that school produces a positive, thriving
environment. Dworkin (1987) found that teachers who perceived their
principals as supportive are less burned out and less willing to quit teaching
than those teachers whose principals are seen as nonsupportive.
The concept of alienation has been of central significance in the
social sciences and has emerged frequently to explain individual and
collective reactions to a vast array of social problems. It breaks down into
four dimensions: meaninglessness, powerlessness, normlessness, and
isolation. When applied to individual behavior, alienation frequently is
viewed as a perceived disjuncture between expectations with regard to a
role or an activity and actual experience within that role or activity
(LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991). Alienation reflects a gap, disjuncture, or
contradiction between what is expected and what teachers and students
believe actually occurs. In education, powerlessness is increased by the
gap between the decision-making power needed to facilitate teaching and
learning and the ability to exercise such power to implement decision-
making (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991). Teachers often observe that they
have little or no control over the methods of teaching they can use or the
content of the material they must teach (Duke, 1990; Dworkin, 1987).
Allport (1967) states that withdrawal (alienation) is the reduction of
the proportion of an individuals personality that intersects with a particular
group (family, faculty, social function, etc.). Withdrawal may be manifested
through several types of behavior. Instances of absenteeism would also be
an indicator of involvement potency or withdrawal. Leaving or quitting would
be a specific observable manifestation of the intersection being reduced; in
fact, quitting is usually considered the most serious of the ordinary
withdrawal forms (Allport, 1962).
When teachers have grown increasingly out of touch with the social
and cultural reality in which they are embedded, they are beginning to
experience alienation and have a tendency to withdraw. They begin to feel
powerless, meaningless, personally isolated, and self-estranged all
components of alienation (Seeman, 1959, 1967, 1975). These concepts
clearly define the feelings expressed by teachers who say they are giving up
on school. Feelings of powerlessness exist when people perceive they
have no control over the events in their personal work lives. Teachers
believe they lack sufficient power to alter conditions so as to give themselves
a sense of efficacy and control in their lives. They feel their activities have
no real purpose, and what they attempt to teach is falling on deaf ears. They
also believe that many tasks associated with the teaching role are inane,
including serving as parent substitutes and monitors of government reform-
mandated accountability schemes (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991).
Meaninglessness, in this context, refers to a sense that the world is
absurd or incomprehensible. This results from a gap between the activities
of schooling and what these activities are intended to produce. Teachers do
not know why they do what they do, except that it is mandated by the state,
the district, or the principal. Normlessness is a feeling that the rules that
govern the world either have disappeared or have become ineffective. It is
created by the gap between rules and the understanding of their function.
Students and teachers often believe that rules are created capriciously; they
cannot explain why things are done. Often rules appear to exist only to
ensure that teachers and students recognize their lack of influence to keep
students and teachers in their place (Dworkin, 1990).
Personal isolation sets the individual apart from other human beings,
and cultural estrangement puts the individual in opposition to the values
held by his or her community or reference. A sense of cultural estrangement
also afflicts students. They often reject the dominant values prescribed by
their teachers and schools. They complain that schools expect them to
conform to unrealistic expectations. Teachers bemoan the fact they they
have to fake being enthusiastic and concerned about teaching in ways they
disapprove in order to satisfy evaluators. They often feel they lack any
control over their lives and fail to see their place in the larger scheme of
production (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1988).
Self-estrangement exists when people must engage in activities that
they deem intrinsically unrewarding. It is a belief that contemporary schools
are structured in such a way as to foster this kind of alienation, and that the
consequence of alienation among even the most dedicated and enthusiastic
of school participants, whether teachers or students, is giving up on school.
The origin of alienating structures in schools and other social institutions can
be found in the inability of institutions to adapt to a new socioeconomic order
(LeCompte and Dworkin, 1988).
The term giving upon school has two stages. The first involves a long
process of alienation. The second stage, actually leaving, is the last step in
a long process of alienation. The terms burnout and quitting behavior are
used to describe the processes and consequences for teachers. Burned-out
teachers suffer from entrapments: they are alienated, but they cannot quit.
External factors may make the consequences of quitting too costly. Thus
giving up does not always lead to quitting (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991).
Dissatisfied employees launch an informal or formal job search to determine
opportunity. If they perceive that alternative jobs are accessible, they are
more likely to resign. While assessing their satisfaction and other job
alternatives, employees determine whether they will stay or leave.
Individuals who receive little feedback on how well they are doing
are candidates for burnout. Clearly, teachers in schools with unsupportive
principals who consider faculty members to be expendable are more
vulnerable to burnout than those not assigned to such principals (Dworkin,
1990). Individuals who are either overworked or have a significant
underload are likely to burn out. Teachers who must satisfy a multiplicity of
conflicting and competing demands placed upon them by students, other
teachers, administrators, the community, and parents are likely to burn out.
Such role overloads may involve having to engage in behaviors that are
mutually exclusive, such as providing individualized instruction while
making sure that a common curriculum is taught (McNeil, 1986).
The lack of public trust also adds to burnout and alienation of
teachers. Farber (1982) described the change in public attitude towards
teachers, beginning with the mid 1960s, as follows:
Teachers then were grossly underpaid but enjoyed the admiration
and respect of a public that regarded them as highly competent
professionals. If a child were not doing well in school, it was the
childs fault and the parents shame; the teacher was considered
sacrosanct. Near the end of this decade, a transformation
occurred. Violence in school children was now seen as the
inevitable product of an unresponsive, morally bankrupt nation;
the onus of educational failure began to shift from the child to the
teacher. Teachers no longer received the same kind of respect
and admiration. If a child were not doing well, it could be regarded
as the fault of an uncaring, incompetent teacher, (p. 241)
When public trust and confidence are low, teachers are less likely to
be respected and more likely to be challenged by students and parents.
Dworkin (1987) saw a circularity in the declining trust in schools and the lack
of confidence in teachers. As long as teachers are not trusted, they are more
likely to feel alienated and to burn out, be less committed to their students, to
desire to quit teaching, and actually to quit teaching. In so doing, however,
teachers reduce pupils trust in education.
Teachers, separated as they are in their classrooms, normally have
little time to share and compare ideas. Professional growth is bound to be
impaired in a setting where practitioners do not see their colleagues practice
their profession and hardly ever share techniques. The organizational
structure of schools, so far as the staff is concerned, is built upon a series of
one-to-one relationships (Maeroff, 1988a). When there is little incentive for
teachers to integrate their behavior with that of other teachers, they tend to
go their own ways. Often, this pattern is reinforced by the principal, who
mostly deals with teachers individually and gives little attention ...to norms
or improving the functioning of the organization (Jwaideh, 1984, p. 13).
Within the teaching profession there is also limited opportunity for
advancement and promotion. Compared to most other types of service-
oriented professions, the potential steps for career advancement in teaching
are fewer and hold less significance (Lortie, 1975). In existing promotion
channels, the main advancement opportunity in teaching lies in going into
school administration. Such a promotion system is frustrating to teachers
who enter the profession because they enjoy working with students and
being directly involved in curriculum and instruction (Yee, 1990).
Workplace factors also contribute to job satisfaction and subsequently
decisions to stay or leave a job by offering organization inducements or
rewards. Researchers looking at employee turnover deduce that workplace
conditions (including security, workload, pay, relations with the supervisor)
act as inducements for workers to stay (Simon, 1961). Satisfaction with
these inducements is an important gauge of the likelihood of defection. In
turnover models (Bluedorn, 1982; Dworkin, 1987; Mobley, 1982), the greater
the organizational rewards in relation to the personal contributions, the
greater the satisfaction and the smaller the propensity to leave.
Although teachers may come to perceive school as meaningless and
to believe that they are powerless to make their school situations more
meaningful (Dworkin, 1987), the immediate and automatic consequence is
not always that teachers quit teaching. Many feel they are simply trapped.
They do not want to be in school, but they feel they have few alternatives.
Teachers without other salable skills are trapped in teaching jobs they hate
because they need their salaries to survive. They spend entire careers
teaching, blaming and sometimes abusing their students as scapegoats
(LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991). With each additional year a teacher
remains in the public schools, investments build up to make actual quitting
more and more costly and problematic. When teachers indicate that they
intend to quit and then do not, they are described as potentially entrapped.
When they make efforts to leave, but remain in teaching anyway, this is
evidence of actual entrapment (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991). When
termination of the job is not an option, alternative behaviors (absenteeism,
negativism, reduced effort, sabotage) will occur instead. This indicates that
as the opportunities to utilize a particular withdrawal form pressures remain
constant, the frequency of other withdrawal behaviors (missing meetings,
tardiness, apathy) will increase (Bluedorn, 1982).
Entrapment represents a problem for both teachers and school
districts. It is a human problem for the teacher, as there are many personal,
emotional, and psychophysical costs associated with the continuation of a
line of work that is disliked or even hated. It is an organizational problem for
schools. First, it becomes all the more difficult for districts to introduce
programs aimed at helping students to learn more effectively and not drop
out of school when they must rely upon unenthusiastic teachers to
implement these programs. Second, teacher entrapment exacerbates
staffing problems. School districts that count on teacher turnover to balance
budgets through the replacement of higher-paid teachers with lower-paid
new teachers discover that some of the teachers they might like to see quit,
do not (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991). People, whether teachers or
students, leave school prematurely in two ways: voluntarily, either (a)
because they have an alternative to participation in school or (b) they find
participation completely intolerable or impossible; or involuntarily, because
they are actually excluded, through transfer, firing, suspension, or expulsion
(LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991).
An employee enters the organization with expectations which are
continually formed after the individual has been employed for some time. If
the expectations are low to begin with and experiences confirm them, then
the employee will be satisfied. If the job turns out to be more challenging
than expected, then the employee satisfaction will be higher. Satisfaction is
dependent upon the opportunities which are presented or available. When
these job opportunities do not occur, then employee commitment lessens,
and the employee begins a search for a new and more satisfactory job. The
intent to leave becomes evident, and eventually the employee leaves if a
new opportunity arises However, if opportunities are few, then entrapment is
perceived, and an unhappy employee remains on the job (Bluedorn, 1982).
Schools are not purposefully constructed to facilitate alienation,
entrapment, or incompetence; they have evolved to be that way in response
to changes in the social, economic, political, vocational, and cultural life to
modern society. However, the problem is one that affects both teachers and
students immediately, because disaffected students increase the tendency
for teachers to find their jobs unrewarding and onerous (LeCompte and
Dworkin, 1991). Much emphasis has been given by researchers to the
aspects of work alienation that cause teachers to burn out, to quit teaching,
or even worse, to become entrapped in a hated career for their working
lifetimes (Blase and Kirby, 1992).
Career Burnout is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, reduced
personal accomplishment, and depersonalization (Maslach and Jackson,
1986). Basically, burnout occurs when individuals reach their own
adaptability limit, a condition which results in a total loss of energy for
teaching. Teacher burnout creates a reaction whereby the individual can no
longer effectively cope or adapt to the situation or stress (p. 14). What
causes teacher burnout? Individuals receiving little feedback on how well
they are performing are candidates for burnout. Teachers in bureaucratized
systems or those undergoing demands for greater public accountability tend
to bum out because they are overburdened by paperwork and the
compounding of responsibilities (Farber, 1982). The relationship between
teacher burnout and student achievement has been a frequently discussed
topic in the literature on teacher burnout. Dworkin (1987) reasoned that one
can establish a logical link between teacher burnout and diminished student
achievement and attendance behavior. A characteristic of burnout is the
reduced willingness to expend extra efforts for clients. If burned-out
teachers are less willing to invest much into their teaching, one would expect
to find lower achievement gains.
Freudenberger (1974), a psychologist, is generally credited with
coining the construct of burnout to describe the sense of wearing out which
characterizes many human service professionals. Burnout is seen by
psychologists as a problem in coping with stress that necessitates new
modes of thinking for the burned-out individual, rather than structural and
organizational changes in school. It is considered a unique type of stress
response that can affect motivation, and interpersonal relationships, and
attitudes, and can have negative implications for organizations (Maslach,
1982). Maslach and Jackson (1982) view burnout as a loss of idealism and
enthusiasm for work characterized by exhaustion, depression, low morale,
and withdrawal. These elements lead to a strong sense of
meaninglessness. Thus meaninglessness and powerlessness become
essential elements in burnout (Maslach, 1982).
In light of the strong similarity between alienation and burnout, the
following conceptual definition of burnout has been offered by Dworkin
Burnout is an severe form of role-specific alienation characterized
by a sense that one's work is meaningless, and that one is also
powerless to effect changes that could make the work more
meaningful. This sense of meaninglessness and powerlessness
is heightened by a belief that the norms associated with the role
and the settings are absent, conflicting, or inoperative, and that
one is isolated among ones colleagues and clients, (p. 28)
Dworkin (1987) also found a dramatically positive effect of principal
support on teacher stress and burnout. From this study, Dworkin (1987)
learned that a supportive principal who shows concern for teachers and
treats them as colleagues significantly reduces teacher burnout. More
important, principal support was found to be a critical factor in breaking the
stress-burnout connection and reducing a teachers sense of alienation. If
the principal were perceived as being influential with subordinates, principal
support was a critical factor in reducing a teachers sense of powerlessness.
Consistent with the tone of other studies on principal behavior, Dworkin
(1987) concluded that the likelihood of a teachers experiencing burnout is
directly related to the teachers perception of his or her principals actual role
and the teachers preferred role for the principal.
Several types of burnout have been identified among teachers, but
two have been associated with the following: frustration headaches,
gastrointestinal disturbances, sleep disturbances, hypertension, fatigue, and
depression; and anxiety feelings of inadequacy, greater loss of
confidence, confused thinking, and panic (Cunningham, 1983).
Burnout is not the same as the desire to quit, nor is it the same as
actual quitting behavior. Many who burn out never leave their jobs; many
who want to quit do not do so. Actually, burnout can be a coping
mechanism that makes work less stressful, as it allows one to to care less
about the quality of ones work. Thus some who burn out would prefer to
remain on the job (LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991). Many teachers possess
all of the attitudinal components of burnout but remain in disliked jobs for
entire careers because of entrapment. People who have invested much into
their careers and who must rely upon their work for their livelihoods or to
purchase a sense of meaning through leisure and activities away from work,
cannot be expected to abandon that work without desirable alternatives
(LeCompte and Dworkin, 1991).
As this review of the literature suggests, interest in the topic of
turnover and burnout has never been higher than has been confirmed over
the last ten years. Concerns exist among educational institutes that the
better teachers may be leaving teaching, and more and more of these
talented people may be entering the private sector. A variety of factors
prompts teacher burnout, and a substantial number of teachers are
experiencing burnout symptoms. The literature chronicles an extensive
search for related sources of stress and factors contributing to burnout.
Theoretical models of burnout often emphasize the interaction of
individual, societal, and organizational factors. Individual factors associated
with burnout include career challenges, life changes, self esteem, lack of
control, and motivation. Maslach (1982) suggests that what a person brings
to a setting is just as critical as what the setting brings out of him or her.
When teachers feel positive support, they are motivated to produce. Many
teachers feel there is a lack of parental and administrative support which
adds to the stress level. Other social factors include political pressures and
the changing cultural expectations within a community. Organizational
factors are student discipline, supervision, student rights, lack of
empowerment, communication, and work overload.
The literature offers a wide array of intervention strategies that are
aimed at alleviating and preventing teacher burnout. Principal support;
positive, productive relationships with students and parents; and
professional self esteem are a few of the key elements that should be
considered when addressing teacher turnover and burnout.
The purpose of this study was to explore the variables which may or
may not affect teachers in their decisions to remain in teaching, to leave the
profession, or to feel disenchanted or entrapped in their career choices. The
researcher attempted to ascertain if induction, supportive environments,
physical attributes, organizational climate, extrinsic reinforcers, and teacher
empowerment can decrease teacher turnover and increase the teacher
retention rate. If school districts allocate thousands of dollars to prevent
dropouts from among their student population, why should they equally
expend time, money, and effort in the prevention of teacher turnover?
A qualitative, exploratory approach was used for the study. Data were
collected through telephone interviews of male and female teachers,
certified from kindergarten through twelfth grades, and from all disciplines.
The sample consisted of teachers from one school district who have three or
more years teaching experience. The decision to represent only one school
district was made because of the intense interest the district has on induction
and the retention of its teachers.
Data were collected through structured telephone interviews. A
prepared interview schedule was used with questions focusing on issues
relating to reasons why teachers leave or remain in teaching, and the factors
which contribute to this turnover or retention of teachers (see Appendix A).
Sixty participants were selected at random from a pool of 278
teachers and former teachers who indicated they were willing to be a part of
this study. The researcher met with the District Director of Personnel who
suggested that a meeting with all administrators might help facilitate the
gathering of data. The meetings occurred with high school principals,
middle school principals, and elementary principals at their regularly
scheduled monthly meetings. Administrators recommended that invitations
to be part of this survey be distributed via district mail to approximately 800
qualifying teachers (those teachers having 3 or more years experience).
Two survey forms were developed and mailed to the target groups
(see Appendices B and C). A letter briefly outlining this study, along with a
survey form, was sent to those teachers who have left the profession within
the last five years, and to those who have chosen to remain in teaching (see
Appendices D and E). Also, assurances were given that no information
would be shared with building principals or central office personnel. The
survey provides data to identify both Leavers and Stayers and asks teachers
to indicate their willingness to participate in this study. The Stayer survey
asked teachers to indicate their present enthusiasm for teaching on a
continuum from entrapped to still excited (see Appendix F). This allowed the
researcher to categorize the sample pool into teachers still excited and
those who are disenchanted. The survey for Leavers asked the respondents
to identify, in general, their reason for leaving (see Appendix G). This data
provided invaluable in determining if they meet the criteria for this study.
From those teachers who responded in the affirmative, 60 subjects,
representing both elementary and secondary teachers, were randomly
selected to be interviewed. Upon receipt of the initial responses, the 278
response cards were placed into 6 various boxes designated Elementary
Leavers, Stayers, Disenchanted and Secondary Leavers, Stayers, and
Disenchanted. These cards were shaken and the researcher pulled 10 from
each box. Subjects were stratified into three categories: those who have left
the profession (Leavers), those who are still excited (Stayers), and those
who feel entrapped, but cannot leave the profession for various reasons
(Entrapped or Disenchanted). Those 60 consisted of 30 elementary
teachers and 30 secondary teachers. Of each set, 30 were further stratified
into 10 leavers, 10 who are still excited about teaching, and 10 who are
disenchanted with teaching. The Response Card for those remaining in the
profession was so designed that teachers were able to identify their feelings
about their profession using a continuum, ranging from entrapped to still
excited. The Response Card for those who have left the profession asked
teachers to identify, in general, the reason for their leaving teaching, and if
they are still in the teaching profession. If a respondent were unable to
participate, for whatever reason, a replacement was randomly selected from
the remaining sample pool. Personal contacts were made to establish a
time for the telephone interview.
Of the Elementary Stayers, one was male and 9 were females. There
were 4 male and 6 female Secondary Stayers. Three Elementary Leavers
were male with 7 female Leavers. Of the Secondary Leavers, 3 were male
and 7 were female. There were no Elementary males who indicated they
were Disenchanted with teaching. All of the Elementary Disenchanted were
females. At the Secondary level, 3 males and 7 females indicated they were
Disenchanted with teaching.
Lavrakas (1987) strongly suggested that a pilot test be made prior to
the actual study. These tests helped refine the wording of the introduction,
selection procedure, and questionnaire. They also helped to determine how
long it takes to administer the interviews. Therefore, three pilot interviews (a
Stayer, a Leaver, and an Entrapped or Disenchanted) were conducted to
test the interview schedule and to enhance the interviewers technique.
None of the questions were misunderstood, but some needed rewording to
secure more concrete responses. Pilot tests of questionnaires were also
successfully employed in the Sible (1993) and Lavrakas (1987) studies.
The approximate length of time needed for each interview was 30 to
40 minutes. The pilot interviews were very helpful in determining the clarity
and intended response of each question. The information gathered from
these three interviews was transcribed, coded, and entered into the
appropriate tables established for displaying findings. This also provided a
test for the data analysis. Following the pilot interviews, adjustments were
made to the interview schedule, method of data collection, and reporting
Following the proposal meeting, four additional questions were
added to address the variables relating to turnover. These were written with
the help of the researchers advisor and committee members.
15. Were your administrators supportive? Did you receive helpful
and supportive feedback when observed or evaluated?
16. Describe the times you felt you were empowered as a teacher to
be a positive influence for change.
23. How would you describe the support you have received from the
parents, students, or the community? Would positive support from
these have made a difference in your decision?
29. Describe the type of support you receive from parents, students,
colleagues, or the community.
Specific adjustments were made to the following questions at the
suggestion of the advisory committee members:
9. The original question asked How were those expectations met?
Added to this question was and how much time elapsed until they
10. The original question stated Identify the opportunities for
inservices and/or workshops available to you to enhance your
teaching abilities and describe the quality of these staff development
activities." How do these contribute to your feelings about your job
of teaching? was added.
12. Original question: How would you rate your building as a
place to work? Do the facilities add to or detract from the culture or
climate of the school? How well is your classroom equipped for
teaching? was added to the existing question.
28. The original question asked What has changed in your life or in
teaching that makes you disenchanted with the field of education?
The question was altered to read as follows: Do you feel valued as
an employee? What kind of feedback have you received from your
administrators? Do you feel that you have some control over your life
in the classroom?
33. The original question: Describe the organizational environment
you feel is intolerable." Do you feel secure in your job? was added.
36. The original question read as follows: Identify someone, by title,
to whom you can go to discuss your concerns. The following was
added to the original question: ...about your job of teaching. Have
you received positive reinforcement from this person? From parents
The following sentence was reworded for clarity:
38. Give some suggestions which would help alleviate your feeling of
helplessness or isolation. It now reads as follows: Give some
suggestions which would help alleviate your disenchanted feelings
about teaching. Would a change in schools, administrators, or
Several yes and no questions were replaced with questions that
would provide more information without additional follow-up questions.
Instead of requesting what degrees one holds, question 5 was altered to
read In what are you certified? This differentiated between elementary and
secondary teachers, as well as to determine the level of each participant.
Another question which was altered dealt with those teachers who have
already left the profession. Question 24 was changed to read If you have
already secured another job, what is your present position?
The Telephone Interviews
Telephone survey methods have undergone serious development
only in the last 20 years. By the mid-1980s, telephone surveying had
become commonplace, and in many instances, it is the most preferred
approach to surveying. Paul Lavrakas (1987) made the following
observation in Telephone Survey Methods:
Telephone surveying is a methodology that has achieved a
respected status as a valid means of gathering information to aid
effective decision making in both the private and public sectors.
In fact, much more money is spent on telephone surveys by market
researchers than by public opinion pollsters and academic
researchers combined, (p. 10)
Isaac and Michael (1990) state that telephone interviews far outweigh
other methods of obtaining information and are more widely used in place of
face-to-face interviews by professional pollsters. They are less costly, can
be conducted daytime or evenings, permit unlimited call backs, place the
respondent at ease in his own home, and are more easily accessible for use
in state or national samples. Lavrakas (1987) adds that telephone
interviewing provides for quality control over the entire data collection
process. This includes sampling, respondent selection, and the asking of
questionnaire items. Another advantage is the speed at which data can be
gathered and processed. Within a week or less one can gather data via
telephone that might take a month or more using in-person interviews, and
an even longer period could be required when using a mail survey. There
are no valid barriers of either a physical or social nature that automatically
invalidate the use of telephone interviews for the purpose of gathering
representative data from the general population (Lavrakas, 1987).
Thus, the telephone interview was a suitable mode for this study.
Because several of the respondents no longer lived in the area, face-to-face
interviews were not feasible. This made the telephone interview an
invaluable tool. It provided a better means of collecting data and saved time.
In their dissertations, both Sible (1993) and Napier (1989) found the
telephone survey method to be efficacious in the gathering of their data.
The interview schedule used in this study (see Appendix A) was
designed by the researcher and her advisor and from relevant research on
this subject. It contains a brief introduction followed by eighteen questions
which are pertinent to all respondents and an individual section for the
Leavers, Stayers, and those Disenchanted with their profession.
Most data-collection methods in behavioral research are direct or
moderately indirect. This investigator found the direct approach was the
most efficient and effective way to provide interaction between the
researcher and the respondent (Lavrakas, 1986). In order to expedite the
interaction, an interview schedule was designed to focus the respondents
thought processes while permitting individual responses for the three groups
of participants. The interview schedule is semistructured and built around a
core of structured questions from which the interviewer can branch off to
explore in depth. These types of questions have no preset choices from
which the respondent selects and are phrased to allow for individual
responses. Though the questions are open-ended and allow for
elaboration, they are fairly specific in their intent. The frame of reference
surrounding each question is clear so that each respondent hears the
question in the same way.
One interview schedule was used in this study, but there were specific
questions directed to the Leavers, Stayers, and to the Disenchanted or
Entrapped. For a frame of reference, all participants were asked the first
eighteen questions which reference demographic information, professional
involvement, and career commitment. Questions nineteen through twenty-
five were directed to those teachers who have recently left the profession.
Questions twenty-six through thirty-one were directed towards those
teachers who are still excited about their choice of careers. Questions thirty-
two through thirty-eight were for teachers who feel entrapped in their jobs.
The questions used in this interview were developed from relevant literature,
district exit interviews, and the ideas of both the researcher and her advisor.
Eight questions were developed from Bluedorns and Dworkins
models of turnover. Both Bluedorn (1982) and Dworkin (1987) suggested
that the morale of stayers may be affected by turnover. An individuals
decision to leave may be interpreted by former co-workers as a rejection of
the job and evidence that better opportunities exist elsewhere. Those
remaining have to reconcile their decision to stay in light of this evidence,
and may develop more negative job attitudes as a result. As a response to
this suggestion, the following questions were developed:
27. Why are you still excited about remaining in teaching? What
effect, if any, have the leavers had on you?
32. What has changed in your life or in teaching that makes you
disenchanted with the field of education?
37. How would you evaluate your school as a workplace? What
effect have the leavers had on you?
Both Dworkin (1987) and Bluedorn (1982) point out that the
expectations employees have as they enter a career greatly influence job
satisfaction dissatisfaction. How the expectations are met, including
opportunities for advancement, affect all three groups. Five questions were
drafted to see if expectations were vital to an employees staying in teaching:
8. When you first became engaged in your teaching profession, what
were your expectations?
9. How were those expectations met, and how much time elapsed
until they were met?
10. Identify the opportunities for inservices and/or workshops
available to you to enhance your teaching abilities and describe the
quality of these staff development activities. How do these contribute
to your feelings about your job of teaching?
11. What were the perceived opportunities that you believed to be
available to you when you entered the profession? Did you expect
to be able to receive adequate benefits, opportunities to grow, receive
compensatory salaries, and receive adequate recognition for a job
31. What kind of opportunities for professional growth are offered by
the school and the district? Do you take advantage of these
offerings? How often?
Five questions were constructed from the recommendations and data
of the Harrison (1990) dissertation. Her conclusions indicate that poor
organizational climate (atmosphere, tone, quality of life), limited personal
rewards (benefits, hours, enhancements), nonsupportive environment, and
the lack personal growth opportunities were perceived as reasons for
teachers to exit the teaching profession or to become disenchanted with
12. How would you rate your building as a place to work? Do the
facilities add to or detract from the culture/climate of the school? How
well is your classroom equipped for teaching?
19. How many years had you been teaching when you made the
decision to leave the profession? If you are willing to share them,
what were the circumstances surrounding your decision?
20. What could have been done to change your mind? Did you feel
a loss of purpose in the daily activities of teaching? How would you
describe this loss?
33. Describe an organizational environment you feel is intolerable.
Do you feel secure in your job?
38. Give some suggestions which would help alleviate your
disenchanted feelings about teaching. Would a change in schools,
administrators, or positions help?
Several of Harrisons respondents reported that frequent feelings of
depression, alienation, emotional exhaustion, low feelings of personal
accomplishment, and high feelings of depersonalization are likely to occur in
schools where the environment is work-oriented and not people- oriented,
where a sense of fair play and support is minimal, where teachers work five
to eight hours overtime weekly with little appreciation for their effort, and
where there is little recognition. Teachers in this environment have, or may
see themselves as having, very little say or opportunity to participate in
setting school policy and in the institutions decision-making procedures.
Eight questions were adapted from the districts exit interview
process. District personnel are interested in knowing the reasons that
teachers leave and want to know what opportunities teachers have to use
their abilities while employed with the district. Some teachers who have left
the district were reluctant to give sufficient information about the reasons
they left. They were concerned about not receiving positive
recommendations. If a teacher had a complaint, was someone available to
listen? Some leavers did not answer this question with candor. This
researcher believes that teachers will be more candid in this study because
there will be no repercussions. Recommendations and suggestions were
also solicited during the exit interview. The following questions were
1. How many years have you been teaching?
2. What is your current position?
13. Did you have a mentor when you entered the teaching
profession? If so, was this mentor provided by the principal, the
district, or did you ask for one? Did this person give you the support
and coaching that you needed? If so, how? What is the nature of that
14. Do you often have a chance to observe other teachers? If so,
describe the circumstances.
26. Describe the professional climate in which you teach. Have you
had opportunities to use your abilities to the fullest? How so?
28. Do you feel valued as an employee? What kind of feedback have
you received from your administrators? Do you feel that you have
some control over your life in the classroom?
30. What factors help you to do your best as a teacher?
36. Identify someone, by title, to whom you can go to discuss your
concerns about your job of teaching. Have you received positive
reinforcement from this person? From parents or colleagues?
This last question was prompted by the districts interest in providing a
mentorship program for its novice teachers. Many exit interviews implied
that after the initial orientation to the new school and following the first three
to four weeks, new teachers were left on their own. District personnel
believe that this is a viable reason for teachers' becoming disenchanted in
their choice of careers. Seasoned teachers are being asked to volunteer to
become year-long mentors to probationary teachers.
Several questions were extracted from a study by Murphy and Hart
(1987) which was used to determine the behavior of teachers who were
intent on leaving their jobs or those who were satisfied to stay. Questions 6,
7, 22, 24, and 25 were based upon this study.
6. When your first entered the teaching profession, how long did you
think you would stay in teaching? Why did you believe this?
7. Identify any other educational positions you have held.
22. What enhancements would you look for in another career?
Would benefits, salary, working conditions, hours, or promotional
opportunities be stronger or weaker enhancements than the daily
enjoyment of the job?
24. If you have already secured another job, what is your position?
25. Linder what conditions would you consider returning to teaching?
Murphy and Hart (1987) determined that all targeted teachers were
both satisfied and dissatisfied with their work. Some find it rewarding but
also have positive attitudes towards other jobs both in and out of teaching.
Benefits, working conditions, and hours are vitally important to ones
remaining in the profession. Their findings also suggest that opportunities
for advancement are foremost in the minds of most teachers. They also
found that knowledge of the reasons teachers enter the profession and
choose to stay or leave are relative to retaining quality teachers.
The remaining eight questions were designed by the interviewer and
her advisor for the purpose of guiding the respondents reasons for
entering the profession, the direction that career might take, and to help
understand why teachers stay in a career they do not like.
3. What made you decide to become a teacher?
4. What other careers did you consider?
5. In what are you certified?
17. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? Why?
18. How does teaching fit what you want in a job? How does it not?
21. How difficult was this decision to leave? Was there someone
who tried to encourage you to remain in teaching?
34. Why have you not resigned or relocated to another career?
35. How easy do you think it would be to get another job, other than
teaching, at this point in your life? List other job alternatives.
Collection of Data
Upon receipt of the cards of those subjects willing to participate in
this study, telephone contact was made by the researcher and a time for the
interview was scheduled. Because of the success of the pilot interviews and
due to the proficiency of the researcher on the computer, all data were
recorded on the computer. The researcher employed a telephone head set
and recorded the participants responses as they were given. Immediately
following the interviews, all information was reviewed to assure accuracy of
Analysis of Data
When all the information was finally collected, the responses were
grouped by question into the actual words of the respondents. All
responses were recorded using a code and an identifying number.
Respondents were divided into Leaver L-1, L-2...; Stayer S-1, S-2...;
Disenchanted or Entrapped- D-1, D-2... This process was used to
preserve the anonymity of the participant.
The researcher assembled categories (see Appendix l) for the
purpose of coding and clustering the responses of the teachers in order to
classify the words and/or paragraphs so the analyst could cluster all the
segments relating to the concept. Clustering is a tactic that can be applied at
many levels tc qualitative data. Clustering sets the stage for analysis. Each
interview was coded to determine the reasons that teachers leave, stay, or
feel entrapped. These codes proved to be efficient data-labeling and data-
retrieval devices. They empowered and sped up analysis. The following
categories were assembled for the purpose of coding the teacher interview
responses: Burnout (BO), Organizational Climate (OC), Entrapment (E),
Expectations (EX), Teacher Empowerment (TE), Poweriessness (P),
Nonsupportive Environment (NE), Supportive Environment (SE).
Some commonalities found were that both Leavers and Stayers had
their expectations met right away. Nineteen Stayers affirmed that they had
helpful and supportive administrators. Nine Leavers and 5 Disenchanted
reported supportive administrators. Fifty-six participants reported having
been empowered during their careers. All three groups reported that stress
was a daily part of their lives, but the overall organizational climate made the
difference with support from the staff. Both Leavers and Disenchanted
reported the nonsupportive environment makes teaching more stressful. All
three groups want to be supported and respected.
Tables were created for each question to identify the major themes
analyzed, categorized, and tallied (Miles and Huberman, 1984). The tables
are important for identifying the responses by category. A narrative
precedes each table to interpret the findings. This method of data analysis
proved to be effective in previous studies (Sible, 1993; Harrison, 1990), and
was validated as effective for qualitative inquiry (Strauss and Corbin, 1990).
Validity and Reliability
Credibility mandates that canons of reliability and validity be
addressed wherever ethnographic techniques are used. Reliability refers to
the extent to which studies can be replicated. Establishing validity
necessitates demonstration that the propositions generated, refined, or
tested match the causal conditions found in the study (Goetz and LeCompte,
1984). It is important that the researcher understands the perspectives of the
respondents, discloses intricacies of human nature within the framework,
and explains what has occurred within the study.
The interview questionnaires must be designed (1) to relate to the
literature, (2) to obtain the responses from members of the population to be
studied, and (3) to be written in language that is meaningful and clear to the
respondents. To ensure that the interviewer and respondent are sharing
approximately the same language, pilot interviews are recommended. This
addresses the question of validity (Strauss and Corbin, 1990). Participants
in the pilot interviews for this study were members of the population to be
studied, and were asked to critique the interview schedules and comment on
the correlation in the content and design of the questions. They offered
suggestions on how the questions might be reworded. The researcher and
her advisor reviewed the pilot process and interview questions, making
adjustments where needed.
Validity was also enhanced by randomly selecting participants from
the subject data base to assure that all respondents were equally
represented. Sufficient time was spent with the subjects to check for
distortions and to explore the participants experiences in sufficient detail.
The researcher also reduced her bias with the use of the interview
schedules and through employing a second rater, L. A. Napier, her
Dr. Napier, the researchers advisor, suggested the rewording of
questions for clarity. She checked tables, read through responses, verified
findings, and critiqued the literature for accurate references. Dr. Napier also
checked the use of the APA style format. Additionally, Dr. Napier reviewed
the methods of data collection analysis. The researcher followed the
recommendations of her rater and responded accordingly.
Judith P. Goetz (1984) and Margaret D. LeCompte (1984) stated that
researchers enhance the reliability of their data by recognizing and handling
five major problems: researcher status position, informant choices, social
situations and conditions, analytic constructs and premises, and methods of
data collection analysis (p. 214). However, all researchers abilities can be
improved by consistent practice and training. Hence, the pilot study
provides an excellent training ground and serves to test the reliability of the
instrument used .
PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS
This study was designed to explore the variables which may or may
not affect teachers in their decisions to remain in the teaching profession, to
leave the profession, or to feel entrapped or disenchanted in their career
choices. It also examined the successful strategies employed by school
officials, as perceived by the participants, to reduce turnover, and to maintain
a staff which is still excited about teaching.
Questions investigated included the following: Will proper induction
curtail the exodus of teachers? How can empowerment (giving teachers a
greater voice in the decisions that affect their schools) and a positive
organizational climate (the atmosphere, culture, quality of life, and the tone
of an organization) assist in retaining the best teachers? What part does a
supportive administrator play in breaking the link between teacher stress
and burnout? How can those teachers be encouraged who feel entrapped
by the fact they have too much invested in teaching to retire and have
become disenchanted with teaching? Are teachers expectations clarified
and being met? Are teachers provided with opportunities to enhance their
abilities in their profession?
Sixty telephone interviews were conducted by this investigator.
Among the thirty secondary teachers interviewed, ten were male and twenty
were female. Of the thirty elementary teachers interviewed, four were male,
and the remainder were female. Of the elementary Stayers, 90% were
females and 10% were males. Of the secondary Stayers, 40% were
males, and 60% were females. Of the elementary Leavers, 30% were
males and 70% were females. Of the secondary Leavers, 40% were
males, and 60% females. No elementary males declared themselves as
Disenchanted. The sample consisted of all females who stated they were
Disenchanted with their careers. Of the secondary males, 30% disclosed
that they were Disenchanted with their choice of teaching while 70% of the
secondary females indicated they were Disenchanted with their careers.
Responses were analyzed according to the following categories:
Burnout, Organizational Climate, Powerlessness, Nonsupportive
Environments, Teacher Empowerment, Expectations, Entrapment, and
Supportive Environments. These categories were created from the
conceptual framework, list of research questions, problem areas, and key
variables that the researcher brought to the study. They were assembled for
the purpose of coding the teacher interviews in order to classify the words
and/or paragraphs, so the analyst could cluster all the segments relating to
the concept. Clustering sets the state for analysis (Miles and Huberman,
1984). Each interview was coded to determine the reasons that teachers
leave, stay, or feel disenchanted with teaching. The findings are described
in a narrative format and also displayed in tables. The full text of all
interviews may be found in Appendix K.
Additionally, the demographic information, professional involvement,
and career commitment were examined for the purpose of gaining a broader
picture of what teachers consider to be necessary in maintaining a more
positive climate within their buildings. A discussion of the research findings
are found in the conclusion of Chapter 4.
Presentation of Data
This chapter presents the results of the study relative to the interview
questions which were developed from relevant literature and the ideas of the
researcher and her advisor. The responses were analyzed according to
Stayers, Leavers, and those Disenchanted with teaching or who feel
Entrapped. Dworkins Model of Turnover was also employed in this study.
Categories were assembled for the purpose of coding teacher responses in
order to classify words and/or paragraphs so the analyst could cluster all the
segments relating to the concept. A copy of these categories and
explanations are available for perusal in Appendix I. A full discussion on
how the interview schedule was developed can be found in Chapter Three.
The findings are presented in this chapter under the following
subheadings: (1) Demographic Information, (2) Professional Involvement,
(3) Career Commitment, (4) Leavers, (5) Stayers, and (6) Disenchanted.
Demographic information was obtained from questions 1 through 7.
Questions 8 through 16 specifically addressed the professional involvement
of the respondents. Questions 17 and 18 pertained to career commitment.
Questions 19 through 25 were specifically designed for those teachers who
have recently left the teaching profession. Questions 26 through 31
addressed those teachers who are still excited about teaching. Questions
32 through 38 were adapted for those who are disenchanted with the
teaching profession. Questions 25, 31, and 38 are linked specifically to ask
the participants for some suggestions to keep teachers in the profession or
to encourage them to return to teaching, to alleviate areas that may be the
cause of their disenchantment, or to list opportunities for growth that the
stayers have experienced.
The responses were grouped according to their commonalities.
Tables are provided for the summarized responses to each question. The
categories are arranged in the tables according to the various responses
from each group: Leaver, Stayer, Disenchanted. For some questions,
the respondents offered more than one response. Therefore, some tables
will contain more comments than the total number of participants.
The respondents are identified throughout this study by an individual
code number. For example, Leavers are designated as L1, L2, L3, and so
on. Stayers are identified as S1, S2, through S20. The Disenchanted
are listed at D1, D2, D3 continuing through D20. A complete account of
each response can be located in Appendix K.
At the beginning of each section, an overview is given about the data
that will be covered in that particular section. Additionally, In order for the
reader to have a better understanding of the data, the question is presented
first. It is then followed by a narrative explaining how the data is presented
in the tables. Each table is identified by a number; the question is repeated,
then followed by the data. The numbers in each section are representative
of each of the respondents.
The demographic questions were designed to give a better
understanding of the respondents. The first set of data collected is that of the
Leavers; the second is that of the Stayers who are still excited about
teaching, and the third reflects that of those who are Disenchanted with
teaching. Questions included in this section will provide information
concerning the number of years in teaching, current positions, other careers
considered, certification, reasons for becoming a teacher, and other
educational positions held.
Question 1: How many years have vou been teaching? As Table 4.1
indicates in response to Question 1. the number of years of experience
between the Stayers and the Disenchanted differ only by 16 years. The
expanse between the Stayers and the Leavers equals 51 plus years. There
is a total of *281.5 years of experience among the Leavers with an average
of **14.08 years in the field of education. The teacher with the least number
of years in experience was Leaver 16 who left the profession with 3 only
years of teaching. Leaver 12 had been teaching the longest with a total of
26.5 years, hoping to be able to continue teaching until the age of 55.
The 20 Stayers who are still excited about their career choice of
teaching have accumulated a total of *333 years of experience. They have
accumulated an average of **16.65 years spent in the profession and are
hoping for many more years in teaching. Stayer 20 has 32 years experience
and is still excited about teaching. Stayer 9 has the fewest number of years
with 8 years experience.
Those respondents who are Disenchanted with the teaching
profession have a total of *317 years of experience and an average of
**15.85 years. Both Disenchanted 13 and 17 have a total of 29 years in the
teaching profession. Disenchanted 2 has only 5 years of experience in the
profession. The bold numbers represent the number of years the teachers
have in experience. The following table provides a breakdown of the
number of years teaching experience for the Leavers, Stayers, and the
Disenchanted, plus an average number of years for each group.
How many years have you been teaching? (Question 1)
LEAVERS Years in Teaching
3 5 6 9 10 13 14 15 16
16 9,10 15 5,20 11,14 6 18 1 19
17 18 19 20 22 24 26
4 13 2 3 8,17 7 12
*281.5 years experience **14.08 Average
Years in Teaching
8 9 10 12 13 14 15 16 17
9 4 14 11,18 10,17 8 2 16 3
18 19 22 23 25 32
7,13,15 12,19 6 5 1 20
*333 years experience **16.65 Average
Years in Teaching
5 7 8 11 13 14 17
2 8,11 18 5 19 4,18 20 9 3,10,14 29 31 1,16,19
6,12 7 *317 years experience 20 13, 17 15 **15.85 average
Question 2: What is vour current position? In response to Question 2.
all Leavers are out of public school teaching; seven are not employed at
all; thirteen either have established their own businesses, are in the private
sector, or freelancing out of their homes. One owns an ice cream store;
another is marketing Apple Computers. One is employed by a utility
company; while another works as a state manager for a crop insurance
company. Leaver 3 is doing some freelance writing and teaching privately
at home, and Leaver 13 is the Educational Director at a local church. Table
4.2 indicates current positions of the Leavers, Stayers and Disenchanted.
What is your current position? (Question 2)
Not Working Freelance Self-Owned Other Work
1,2,5,7,9,12,15 3,10,14 4,6,17 8,11,13,16,18,19,20
1,2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8,11,12,15
1,5, 6,12,13,14,16,18,19,20 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10,11,15,17
Note: For specific grade levels and placements of Stayers and the
Disenchanted, see Appendix K.
Question 3: What made you decide to become a teacher? In
response to Question 3. participants mentioned being inspired by excellent,
former teachers, a friend who was in teaching, a mentor or professor who
made them feel this was the right choice. Some came from a family of
teachers or had a spouse who was a teacher. Stayer 1 had worked in the
private sector but did not find the rewards as great as in teaching. Leaver 5
and Stayer 8 were gifted in speaking several languages and felt drawn to
the profession. Two Leavers wanted to pursue a career in music after
spending time in education. Stayer 4 had never intended to be a teacher
due to the additional time and energy it required, but was drawn to teaching
because of the kids. Stayer 3 mentioned there were few options open to
women at that time and was not encouraged to enter any other profession.
Disenchanted 11 had some poor examples of teachers and wanted to be a
better teacher for kids. Respondents in all three groups listed a love for
students or for learning as motives for entering the profession. Some never
doubted their choices. Others questioned their choice of careers within two
to three years. Teaching also fit the lifestyle of several of the respondents in
that they would be free in the summer when their own children were out of
school. For Disenchanted 10, teaching was a fall back position. Stayer 10
had an eagerness to share knowledge and to help others.
What made you decide to become a teacher? (Question 3)
Suited Inspired by Gifted in Loved
Lifestyle Loved Kids Someone Teaching School
1,9,12 4,6,7,11,18,19,20 3,8,10,13 5,15 2,14,16,17
Loved Lifetime Family Inspired Drawn to
Kids Dream of Teachers by Others Teaching Other
4,6,7,10,13,15 5,6 11,18,19,20 2,12 1,8,13,14 3,9,16,17
Loved Lifetime Family Inspired
Teaching Dream of Teachers bv Others Undecided
1,4,8,9,14,17 2,6,7,15,20 4,5,11,19 12,16,18 1,3,10,13
Question 4: What other careers did vou consider? When asked, in
Question 4. what other careers teachers had considered, nineteen of the 60
respondents stated they had not thought of any other career. Teaching was
their first choice, and they felt drawn to the profession. Two of the leavers
had studied counseling or psychology and had thought they might follow a
career in those two fields. Three participants had been performers during
their lifetime and had planned to continue their careers along with teaching.
Another one had entered the field of medicine before changing to major in
education. Several participants were involved in educational-related fields:
journalism, writing, or curriculum development. Seven respondents had
tried various other fields before entering the teaching profession.
What other careers did you consider? (Question 4)
None 1,5,7, 9,12,14,20 Counseling/ Medical 2, 3,4,16 LEAVERS Journalism/ Curriculum 8, 10, 11 Performing Other 13 6,15,17,18,19
None Medical Law Airline Militarv Other
3,5,8,9,10,13,18 6,16,17,19 14 12 2 1,4,7,11,15,20
None Medical Law Airline Military Mission Others
2,5,7,14,15 13,19,20 8,10 6,16 4 18 1,3,9,11,12,17
Question 5: In what are you certified? In response to Question 5. the
Degrees, Endorsements and Certifications range from BAs, MAs, through
Administrative endorsements, Reading, and Special Education Services.
Twenty-eight of the participants hold only BA or BS degrees. Thirty-four of
the 60 interviewed hold MA degrees or additional certifications or other
endorsements, such as in Administration or in Vision and Learning
Disabilities or SIED (which is the Significantly Identifiable Emotionally
Disturbed students). Six of the 60 participants hold kindergarten through
twelfth grade endorsements. Leavers 5, 6, 11, 12, and 13 are certified in
both elementary and secondary education while only Stayer 2 and
Disenchanted 8 can make this claim. Many of those interviewed feel
comfortable teaching at both levels.
In what are you certified? (Question 5)
BA/BS Elementarv MA Elementary BA/BS Secondary
1,2,5,6,8,11,12,13 2,8,11,19 : 3,4,5,7,9,10,11,12,13,14,16,18,20
MA Secondary K-12 SPED Administrator
1,3,4,6,7,14 12,15,17 17,19 6
BA/BS Elementary MA Elementary BA/BS Secondary
2,9,13,14,16,17,18,19,20 18,19 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,11,12,15
MA Secondary K-12 SPED
2,3,5,6,7,10,11,12,15 10,20 9,16,17,19
BA/BS Elementary MA Elementary BA/BS Secondary
1,5,6.8,12,14,15,16,20 1,5,12,19 2,3,4,7,8,9,10,11,16,17
MA Secondary K-8 K-12 SPED Administrator PhD
3,7,17, 18 19 3,12, 1,13, 5
Question 6: When you first entered the teaching profession, how Iona
did you think you would stay in teaching? Whv did you believe this?
Eighteen Leavers responded to Question 6 with the comment Forever.
Leaver 5 stated, As long as Im effective. Two of the sixty interviewed had
no set time. One Leaver averred, For a few years because of a commitment
I have to perform professionally. Thirteen Stayers planned to stay in
teaching forever or until retirement age. Twelve of the 20 Disenchanted
indicated that they believed they would remain in the profession forever or
until they reached retirement age. Disenchanted 17, who thought 5 years
would be long enough, has remained in the profession 29 years to date.
Twenty-eight of the 60 teachers believed they could make a difference in the
lives of their students. For forty-three of the 60 respondents, teaching had
been a lifetime ambition for which they had made a lifetime commitment. All
sixty of the participants indicated they loved teaching and they loved working
with the children. Teaching suited their lifestyles, especially if the teachers
too planned to have children of their own. Teaching would permit summers
off to be with their families. Leaver 8 and Leaver 15 stated they had been
very young when the decision to teach was made and were not aware of
other options. Stayer 3 predicted two to three years in the profession but
has remained for 17 happy years. Stayer 6 thought 5 to 10 years would be
long enough to pursue a career in education but has been in teaching for 22
years because of the satisfaction brought by being in the profession. Fifty-
four of the sixty teachers interviewed believe that teaching is one of the most
worthwhile careers one could choose.
When you first entered the teaching profession, how long did you think you
would stay in teaching? Why did you believe this? (Question 6)
Forever/Full Careers Limited Time
No Limit Set Time Career/Forever
1 2,3,6,11,14,18 4,5,7,8,9,10,12,13,15,16,17,19,20
No Limit Set Time Career/Forever
5 4,6,10,11,12,16,17 1,2,3,7,8,9,12,14,15,18,19,20
Question 7: Identify other educational positions you have held. This
question identified other educational positions held by the Leavers,
Stayers, and Disenchanted. Six Leavers out of the twenty answered
that they had held no other position other than being a classroom teacher.
Three Disenchanted and four Stayers have spent their careers mainly in
teaching. This career was all they had ever wanted. They had no desire to
take on any additional responsibilities. Nineteen respondents had served
as department chairpersons in their various disciplines. Three Leavers had
been administrators some time during their career. One teacher was the
director of education for a treatment center. Another participant did private
tutoring for the district. The remainder served as coaches, yearbook
sponsors, advisors in forensics or Student Council, and one served as a
reading specialist. Leavers 2 and 4 were also counselors during their
career. Stayer 18 was a Teacher on Special Assignment for Reading
(TOSA). Five of the respondents have served or are presently serving as
Teacher Leader Coordinator or as a Team Leader in a middle school
Identify other educational positions you have held. (Question 7)
Department Chairpersons 1,7,13,18, 20 Yearbook Counselor 2, 3,4 LEAVERS Soonsor Principal None 7,10 4,6,17 5,11,12, 14,15,19 Other 8,9,16,18
Department Chairoersons 2,3,5,6,11, 12,15 Team Leader 2,11 STAYERS Director TOSA None 1,4,6,8,16 6,18 10,13,14,20 Resource 7,9,17,19
Department Team Coach or Chaimerson Leader Soonsor None Taa 5,6,7,12,15,17,20 6,12,16,20 8,9,10,11,12 1,2,18 3,14 Other 4,13,17,19,20
The second section of the interview schedule is Professional
Involvement and addresses what expectations, if any, teachers might have
held as they entered into their careers. This section was developed to
assess how soon these expectations were met after the teachers started
their jobs. Additionally, this section examined the importance of growth
opportunities, salaries, benefits, mentorships, supportive administrators, and
teacher efficacy or empowerment.
Question 8: When vou first became engaged in vour teaching
profession, what were your expectations? All but two of the twenty Leavers
came to the profession with identifiable expectations. Leavers 2 and 19 had
no expectations at all. Stayers 2, 8, 9,14, and 15 came into the profession
with few or no expectations. Disenchanted One came with no expectations
whatever. This was a first time of employment, and the teacher was pleased
to have a job. Twenty-seven of the 60 came into teaching believing they
could reach their students and make a big difference in their lives.
Eighteen of the 60 interviewed wanted to feel supported, respected by
the parents and the community, and to be treated as professionals. Most of
the 60 teachers interviewed were excited about their new teaching positions.
They had been trained as teachers and were prepared to be effective in their
chosen careers. Job security placed high with of four of the teachers. Thirty-
eight of those who were interviewed expected to have multiple opportunities
for workshops, professional conferences, and inservices which would
enhance their own professional growth. They had also hoped to share
some of their own expertise.
Six respondents stated that they wanted to be respected for their
abilities and creativity and looked at teaching as a really positive challenge.
Five of the Leavers, 5 Stayers, and 1 Disenchanted said that they had
expected to have good hours and positive working conditions with sufficient
materials and supplies to enhance their teaching quality. Twenty-two of the
60 cited compensatory salaries and other benefits to be high on their list of
expectations. Fourteen of the respondents expected to have supportive
When you first became engaged in your teaching profession, what were
your expectations? (Question 8)
Had Feel Would Get Treated as a Make a
None Secure Support Professional Difference
2,19 3,4,15,20 5,6,17 5,11,12,14 1,4,7,8,9,10,13,15,16,18
Compensatory Opportunities Good Working
Salaries/Benefits For Growth Conditions
1,2,6,7,9,11,15 1,2,4,5,6,9,10,11,13,18,19 1,9,10,14,20
Had Few Would Get Receive Make a
Or None Support Respect Difference
2,8,9,14,15 1,5,6,8 6,8,13 1,5,6,7,10,12,15,16,17,18
Compensatory Salaries/Benefits 1,3,4,8,10,12,16,19 Opportunities For Growth 1,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11, 12,13,15,16,17,18,19,20 Good Working Conditions 5,8,12,16,20
Had Would Get Receive Make a
None Support Respect Difference
1 6,7,8,10,12,15,17 8,12,17 2,4,13,14,15,18,20
Compensatory Opportunities Good Working
Salaries/Benefits For Growth Conditions
1,4,5,8,10,13,15 2,3,4,6,8,12,16,17,18,19 18
Question 9: How were those expectations met, and how much time
elapsed until they were met? Eleven of the 20 Leavers replied that their
expectations were met right away or within the first year. Nine of the 20
Stayers affirmed that they had their expectations met right away. Five of the
20 Disenchanted had their expectations met right away. Ten of the 60
respondents stated they never had their expectations met in the manner they
had earlier anticipated. Seventeen of the 60 waited for a long time for
expectations to be met. Leaver 2 and Disenchanted 1 stated that they had
no preconceived expectations. Excitement was high among 31 teachers,
especially those who believed they were making a difference. Those 38
teachers who felt they were supported and treated with professionalism had
their expectations met within the first few years. Seven Leavers averred that
they felt challenged during their first years. Six of the 20 Disenchanted had
set their expectations too high and found they could not succeed with all
students. Eighteen of the 60 interviewed believed that their expectations
were positively met and successfully satisfying. Six out of the 20 Stayers
believed their expectations were realistic. Some expectations were not
realized until teachers began to see their students improving and maturing.
Stayers 4, 9,11, and 12 stated that their expectations were exactly what they
thought they would be. There were few surprises for these Stayers.
How were those expectations met, and how much time elapsed until they were met? (Question 9)
Never 5,6,14,15 Riaht Away 1,3,4,7,8,11,13 16,17,18,20 LEAVERS Slowly Positively Challenqed 9,10,12 1,3,4,7,8,10,11 5,6,9,12,14,15,16 13,17,18,20
Never Riaht Awav 3,19 1,4,5,9,10,11,14,15,20 Slowlv Positively Realisticallv 2,6,7,8,12,13,16,17,18 1,5,7 2,9,10,13,19,20
Never 1,2.3.5 DISENCHANTED Riqht Away Slowly Neaativelv Unrealistically Positively 4,13,14,16,18 6,7,9,11,15 3,6,7,8,10,12 2,3,5,9,17,20 4,8,10,19
Question 10: Identify the opportunities for inservices and or
workshops available to you to enhance your teaching abilities and describe
the quality of these staff development activities. How do these contribute to
vour feelings about your iob of teaching? Participants were asked to
respond to questions concerning perceived opportunities for growth, such as
quality inservices and workshops. Twenty of the 60 respondents stated that
there were very few inservices offered to them. Fourteen of the 20 Leavers,
fourteen our of 20 Stayers, and twelve of the 20 Disenchanted responded
that they were provided with outstanding opportunities to grow. Those new
to the District were amazed at the opportunities available to them. They
added that those workshops or seminars were tantamount to college classes
which enhanced their own teaching and helped to build their enthusiasm.
Several of these opportunities were considered to be beyond teacher
expectations. Some workshops were curriculum related; others offered
were in the areas of the talented and gifted students, special education,
computer training, middle level transition classes, writing projects, methods
in teaching techniques, whole language, reading, vision, foreign languages,
cooperative learning, music, alternative grading, and peer coaching.
One Leaver expressed her concern because some teachers did not
receive personal recognition for conducting seminars or workshops.
Another Leaver had a concern that workshops in her field were not offered
during the past five years. Some of the teachers interviewed expressed
concern that not many inservices were offered in their fields; however, those
which were available were beneficial. Several of those interviewed felt that
fewer workshops were being offered now because of budget cuts. This gave
a let down feeling to the teachers. Many felt very fortunate to have had the
opportunities to attend special clinics. Other districts did not offer as many
opportunities as this district. Technology in Education is the present focus
in this school district. With the knowledge that money is limited, many of the
teachers have to very selective in the workshops they attend.
Identify the opportunities for inservices and/or workshops
available to you to enhance your teaching abilities and describe the
quality of these staff development activities. How do these contribute
to your feelings about your job of teaching? (Question 10)
Few Worthwhile Not Valuable
5,9,10,12, 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,11,12, 5,9,10,17,
Feelings about Opportunities
Better Teacher Positive Self Image Wasted Effort
2,7,11,13, 8,12 5,9,10,17
Many Few Worthwhile
3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11,12 1,2,8,14,17,19 1,4,6,7,9,10,11,17
Feelings about Opportunities
Most Beneficial Better Teacher Positive Self Image Let Down
1,4,5,9,13,18,20 2,3,6,7,10,11,12,15 11,12 8,14
Many Few Worthwhile Not Valuable
1,2,5,6,7,9,12 3,4,8,10,11,13 1,8,9,14 10,11
Feelings about Opportunities
Most Beneficial Better Teacher Positive Self Image Not Valued
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 1,6,8,14,16,17 9,12 3,4,10,11,13,15
Question 11: What were the perceived opportunities that vou
believed to be available to you when you entered the profession? Did you
expect to be able to receive adequate benefits, opportunities to grow.
receive compensatory salaries, and receive adequate recognition for a job
well done? Question 11 requested information about adequate benefits,
salaries, and occasions for recognition. Few entered the profession
expecting high wages, but the majority of teachers believed they could
survive on a teachers salary. With the addition of children to the family, the
salaries appeared deficient especially for the heads of households.
However, 7 Leavers felt the salaries and benefits were quite adequate.
Ten Disenchanted and 10 Stayers expected to receive compensatory
salaries and other benefits. Leavers 4 and 5 felt their talents had been
utilized. Promotions are not part of a teachers ladder.
Seventeen of the 60 respondents believed there would be
opportunities to grow, but when a promotion occurs, it will be usually as an
administrator. When this happens, the teacher leaves the classroom.
Twenty-seven hoped to make a difference in the lives of their students.
Thirteen respondents expected to receive support and respect from
students, parents, and community. Department chairpersons or team
leaders receive very little monetary compensation for the time and energy
spent in coordinating a department or team (4% of base pay). Twenty-four of
the 60 teachers interviewed indicated that more money or recognition for a
job well done would have been valued. Fourteen of those interviewed said
they gave little thought about the benefits or opportunities to grow. They
were inexperienced and young, but they did expect to be able to survive on
a teachers salary. Eighteen of the 60 expected adequate recognition and
support from parents and administrators and were disappointed when this
did not materialize.
What were the perceived opportunities that you believed to be available to
you when you entered the profession? Did you expect to be able
to receive adequate benefits, opportunities to grow, receive compensatory
salaries, and receive adequate recognition for a job
well done? (Question 11)
Opportunities for Growth Yes 8,11,19 No 2, 5,10 LEAVERS Adequate Salaries/Benefits Yes-1,6,7,9,10,16,17 No-4,11,14,15,18 Recoanition Yes-12,13,17, 20 No-1,3,4,15,18
Opportunities Adequate Support &
for Growth Salaries/Benefits Recoanition
Yes-1,2,3,4,5,6,8,11 Yes-1,2,3,4,6,8,11,12,16,19 Yes-2,6,8,10,11,12
No-7,9,13,14,15,17,18,20 No-9,13,14,15,17,20 No-9,14,15
for Growth Salaries/Benefits
No-4,5,7,9, No- 5,7,9,12,13,16
No 5, 7
Question 12: How would you rate the building as a place to work?Do
the facilities add to or detract from the culture and climate of the school?
How well is your classroom equipped for teaching? Question 12 addressed
the issue of organizational climate of the building facilities which could add
to or detract from the climate and culture of a school. Twenty-three of the 60
said that poor facilities can detract from the climate and/or culture of a
school. Thirty-two of the 60 believed that good facilities can add to the
climate or culture of a building. They stated that it really does not matter if
the buildings are old or new as long as they have been well maintained, and
the teachers have adequate supplies and a supportive environment in which
to work. Those teachers who are dissatisfied with the facilities are the ones
who are working in overcrowded, unventilated, unimproved, or unsafe
facilities. Twelve of the 60 interviewed also stated that the employees really
make the difference, and three added that the administrator makes the
Thirty of the sixty participants had classrooms which were well
equipped. Seventeen classrooms were lacking in supplies and equipment.
Five of the 60 added that their classrooms were not well equipped at all.
They were either too hot or too cold. Supplies have to be borrowed.
Thirteen of the 60 believe that the organizational climate lacks a positive
quality of life. It doesnt seem to matter if the building is old or new some
positive attributes can be observed, even if people are the ones who
contribute to the ambiance.
New buildings, by nature, will have everything one could ask for as for
as physical needs and supplies and materials. However, twelve of the 60
respondents did not think that being in new facilities made the overall
ambiance of the school any better. They believed it was a plus to be in a
new building with all new amenities, but this was not a must. The only
suggestion made is that the older buildings should be upgraded to meet the
present technological needs. This is presently occurring within this district.
How would you rate the building as a place to work? Do the facilities add to or detract from the culture and climate of the school? How well is your classroom equipped for teaching? (Question 9)
Facilities Detract 2, 3,15,18 Facilities Add to I, 3,5,6,7,9,10 II, 17,19,20 LEAVERS Depends on the PeoDle 1,2,4,5, 6, 8 12,15, Classroom EauiDDed Yes-1,2,5,7,11,19 No- 3, 8, 9,10,16
Facilities Facilities Depends on Classroom
Detract Add to the People Equipped
1,2,3,6,8,9 4,5,7,11,12,13 1,2 Yes-1,4,5,6,7,8,10,12
10,15,16 14,17,18,19,20 14,17,18,19,20
Facilities Facilities Depends on Classroom
Detract Add to the PeoDle Equipped
4,5,6,7,8,9 1,2,9,12,13,14 2,15 Yes-1,2,3,5,8,10,12
10,11,19 15,16,17,18 13,14,17,18
Question 13: Did vou have a mentor? If so. was this mentor Drovided bv
the Drincioal. the district, or did vou ask for one? Did this Derson aive the
suDDort and coachina that vou needed? If so. how? What is the nature of
that relationship now? Question 13 looked at the teachers support system
in their schools. The question of availability of mentors was relevant due to
the recently implemented induction programs in the various state school
districts. Only ten of the 60 interviewed had mentors assigned. Forty-seven
had no mentor, but 18 found someone to serve as a mentor. Twelve believe
that mentors provided valuable support and additional training.
The way mentors helped was by nurturing the new teachers. Mentors
were beneficial in giving an orientation to teachers on classroom discipline,
content coverage, in giving basic instructions on the opening day of school,
developing a time management system, or assisting in the writing of lesson
plans. Mentors also reassured novice teachers and answered questions on
the grading process. They also modeled professionalism, instructed in
classroom management, provided a sounding board, and gave positive
reinforcement and feedback. Many teachers who were fortunate to have
mentors stated that they developed long and lasting friendships. Nine
mentees are still in touch with their mentors.
Did you have a mentor? If so, was this mentor provided by the principal, the district, or did you ask for one? Did this person give you the support and coaching that you needed? If so, how? What is the nature of the relationship now?
Mentors Assigned? No Yes 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 1,18 12,13,14,15,16,17,19,20 LEAVERS Found Own Mentor 2, 6, 8,11,15 16,17,19 SuDportive Yes-1,11 No-16,18 Still in Touch Yes-1,2
Mentors Assigned? No Yes I, 2,3,5,6,8,9,10 4,7,13,20 II, 15,16,17,18 STAYERS Found Own Mentor 2,3,12,14,15 18,19 SuDDortive Yes-3,4,7 12,14 Still in Touch Yes-4,7,12,13 No-15,20
I Mentors Assigned No Yes 1,3,4,6,7,9,10,11,12, 2,5,8,17 13,14,15,16,18,19,20 DISENCHANTED Found Own Mentor SuDDortive 3,7,16 2,3,5,7,17 Still in Touch Yes 3,5,8
Question 14: Do vou often have a chance to observe other teachers?
If so. describe the circumstances. Thirty-three of those interviewed were
able to observe other teachers and felt encouraged to do so by their
administrators. However, most of the observations took place during the
participants planning times or at lunch. Middle school teachers felt they
had been provided more opportunities to observe other grade levels
because of the personal and team planning times but not at their own grade
level because of having the same planning periods.
Eighteen of the 60 believed that observing other professional
teachers was a valuable experience in that they gleaned new and creative
ideas, problem solving techniques, and classroom management from these
observations. Twenty-two respondents would have liked more opportunities
to observe but did not have the advantage to do so. Reading or special
education teachers had more time to observe due to the nature of their work.
The 5 music and art teachers never seemed to have much time for
observations and felt isolated from the regular classroom teachers, mainly
because electives teachers do not have planning times that coincide with
regular academics. The electives planning occurs when many students and
teachers are having lunch. Eleven elementary teachers found there is
limited time when they are without their students. They did use some of that
time to observe when their students were with the art or music teachers.
Stayers 9 and 12 stated that peer coaching is one avenue offered
throughout the district which enables teachers to observe their peers. They
found this to be invaluable. Leaver 18 believed that more was learned
about teaching through observation than through college classes.
Disenchanted 13 stated that observing other teachers is encouraged
by the district office, and the administrators will cover the classes of those
who would like to observe other teachers. At least this is true in some
schools. Disenchanted 18 stated that peers provide other ideas on how to
approach teaching. Traveling teachers felt they had the greatest advantage
because they observed teachers in all disciplines. Leaver 20 was less than
satisfied with performances of teachers around the city. Their styles,
approaches to teaching, and their lack of enthusiasm for teaching were
evident. Stayer 16 stated that administrators are very supportive in
providing time to observe other teachers.
Do you often have a chance to observe other teachers? If so,
describe the circumstances. (Question 14)
Yes No Seldom Lunch Plannina Worthwhile
1,4,6,8,9,16 17,18,19,20 3,5,10 12,14,15 2,7,13 16,17 1,6,9,11,17 1,4,6,8,16,17,18,20
Yes No Seldom Lunch Plannina Worthwhile
1,2,4,9,10, 12,13,14,15 16,18 3,5,6,8,9 17,19,20 2,7,14 1,12,13,15 11,15,18 1,4,11,12,13
Yes No Never Planning 2,3,4,12,13,14 1,5,6,7,8,9 10,11 4,12,17 15,16,17,18 10,11 19,20 Worthwhile 13,14,16,18,20
Question 15: Were your administrators supportive? Did you receive
helpful and supportive feedback when observed or evaluated? Thirty-six of
the 60 respondents stated that they had supportive administrators almost
from the beginning. Thirteen had supportive administrators at the beginning
of their career or at least some of the time during their tenure. Seven out of
the 20 Disenchanted perceived little or no support from administrators.
Stayer 8 has observed a waning of support from administrators. Thirty-
seven of the respondents acknowledged receiving positive reinforcement
regularly. Thirty-three of those participating in this study felt the feedback
from evaluations was helpful; however, six stated they had been evaluated
but never actually observed by their administrators. Eleven of the 60
affirmed that the feedback was not helpful or severely lacking. Only 3 of the
20 Leavers stated that there was a positive ambiance in their building where
they felt confirmed as a vital and an integral part of the school. Sixteen
Leavers had at least one supportive administrator during their careers.
Teachers seem to have wanted constructive feedback because that
helps them to grow. When parents complained, teachers felt the support
slipping toward the parent because some administrators did not want any
conflict. Stayers 2 and 4 said that supportive administrators have not always
been a part of their lives. Stayer 8 and Disenchanted 7 related that there is
a real dangerous nonsupport seen at times, especially when a parent
attacks a teacher in the presence of an administrator, and nothing is said by
that administrator in support of the teacher. Fourteen respondents stated
that it depended upon the schools whether or not there were supportive
Were your administrators supportive? Did you receive helpful and
supportive feedback when observed or evaluated. (Question 15)
At Times Yes No Yes No Observed
1,7,8,9,10 2,3,4,11 5,612 7,8,9,11, 1,4,10 2,15,17
13,14,15,17 18,19,20 15,16 16,17,18.19 12,16
Yes No Yes No
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11,12,13 8 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,11,12 8,10
At Times Yes No Yes No Observed
3,4,7,9,11 5,7,8,12,13 1,2,6,10,17 3,4,5,8,9,11 1,7,10,17 10,14,17
Question 16: Describe the times vou felt you were empowered as a
teacher to be a positive influence for change. The question yielded thirty-
nine respondents as having been empowered by their administrators to
release their potential within the classroom. Twenty-five of those 60
interviewed were actively involved in having some modicum of control in
their particular schools and/or society in shaping curriculum, designing a
discipline code of conduct, or in directing district writing assessments.
Twenty-eight of the 60 believed they had truly made a difference with
students, and 30 believed that they had been empowered to make use of
their talents. The respondents felt that they were empowered in the writing
of curriculum, conducting seminars, serving as a department chairpersons,
conducting performances, sponsoring forensic tournaments, coaching,
serving on District committees, or working on budgets. Thirteen out of the
60 believed they were actively involved in investigating and questioning
patterns of authority. Nine felt empowered when first hired, but that feeling of
empowerment diminished over the years. Twenty-seven felt empowered by
the parents or by the students themselves.
Describe the times you felt you were empowered as a teacher to be a positive influence for change. (Question 16)
Classroom Buiidinq Use of Talents
1,6,7,9,10,15,16,17,19,20 1,2,3,5,6,8,14,18,20 1,2,3,4,5,6,11,13,15,18,19,20
Classroom Building Use of Talents
1,3,4,5,6,7,10,11,13,14 15,16,17,18,19,20 3,4,6,11,12,17,18 2,3,4,9,10,11,12,15,17,18
Classroom Buiidinq Use of Talents
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,10,12 13,14,16,18 1,2,5,8,10,11,14,15,19 2,5,8,11,14,15,19,20
These two questions were included in the interview schedule to
assess the commitment and involvement of all teachers. Knowing the kind
of teacher who leaves, as well as the one who is still excited about teaching,
is critical to the study Understanding why committed teachers leave is as
important as ascertaining why disenchanted teachers stay.
Question: 17: What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? Whv? Ten
of the 20 Leavers believed they would be involved in a new career before
too long after leaving the teaching profession. Some has already secured
new positions. Four Leavers even hoped to be back into the teaching
profession when they have had time to heal their hurts and regain some of
their confidence and self-esteem. Three of the Leavers are already in
private teaching, and three do not have any idea what they will be doing;
perhaps, they will be just enjoying the life of retirement. Leaver 11 stated
that more money was needed to support a growing family. Six Leavers
indicated that they still love teaching and have not given up on students or
the educational system.
Sixteen Stayers out of 20 hope to still be teaching at the end of five
years. They still have much to give to their students. The remaining four will
either be retired on in a different line of work. Fifteen of the 20 Stayers
stated that they are still excited about teaching and love working with the
Nine of the 20 Disenchanted thought they would still be in teaching
because there was still much to accomplish, even though they are facing
some difficult times. Six have not given up on teaching. Disenchanted 6
and 17 affirmed that much depended upon the administrators. Supportive
principals could still make a difference in their thinking. The Disenchanted
did not foresee a change in employment. Seven of the 20 affirmed that they
would be probably be out of public education by then. Three believed they
would be moving up into some type of administrative job, and 4 had not
planned that far ahead.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? Why? (Question 17)
New Back in Dont Private
Careers Teachina Know Business
1,4,6,10,11,13,14,16,17,20 2,5,9,19 7,8,12 3,15,18
Needs More Recuperation Loves Needs Needs New
Money Time Teachina ResDect Challenaes
3,11,15,18 1,6,12,16,20 2,5,9,19 4,7,10,13 8,17
Still in Private
Retired Teachina Counseling Business
3,19 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 16 19
Loves Still Teaching Too
Kids Enjoys It Overseas Stressful
2,4,9,11,12,14,17,20 5,6,7,8,1013,15 1,18 3,16
New Still in Dont Private
Careers Teachina Know Business Retired
3,13 1,5,8,9,10,14,16,18,19 2,6,17,20 7,11,12 4,15
Loves Depends on For Much to
Teaching Administration Retirement Accomplish
7,9,12,14,18,19 6,17 1,5 3,5,8,10,11,13,16,20
Question 18: How does teaching fit what you want in a job? How
does it not? All 60 participants acknowledged that teaching fit their lives.
They like the rewards and the autonomy of teaching. The work hours fit with
their family life and home schedules. They enjoy having the summers off to
take additional classes for recertification, for vacation time, or for being with
family. Teaching was their first love, and it lent itself to the creativity that
many of the teachers exhibit. Intrinsic rewards from working with students
are the primary reasons for teaching. Their main attraction is the children.
How it does not fit is in the lack of support from their administrators,
parents, or the community. All three groups mentioned stress and the lack of
respect makes teaching not fit. Seven Stayers noted the long hours, and 5
Leavers added the politics that permeates education. Seven Disenchanted
and 3 Stayers acknowledged that teaching always fit into their lives.
How does teaching fit what you want in a job? How does it not?
Rewards & First Creative
Autonomy Love Opportunity
11,20 2,3,4,5,7,8,15,16,17 10,14
How Does It Not Fit?
Lack of Lack of Lack of
Rewards Money Growth Stress Politics
8,5,14 6,7,11,19 2,6 11,13,14,16,18,20 3,5,8,15,16
How Does It Not Fit?
Outside Long Too Much Too Little Always
Factors Hours Stress Work Pay Fits
2,12 3,9,10,11,12,14,16 6,13,15,17 3,19,15,20 2,4,8,18,19 1,5,7
Family Rewards & First Creative
Schedules Autonomy Love Opportunity
1,4,5,9,10,11 1,5,8,12,13 3,20 6,7,12,13,15
How Does It Not Fit?
Lack of Support Lack of Respect Stress
12,17,18,19,20 12,17,18,19.20 1,2,5,7,9,11.14,18,20
For Those Who Have Left Teaching
Eighteen of the 20 Leavers interviewed had at one time planned to
make teaching a life time commitment. They gave positive reasons for
entering the teaching field, but they have now left the profession they love.
Less than adequate support from administrators, parents, the media, and the
community created frustration and stress. Ten of the 20 acknowledged they
had received little or no assistance from supervisors during the early
induction years. Any mentors they had were lacking or too busy to help.
Seven of the 20 Leavers stated they were being hampered from being
successful in the classroom, and at times, working conditions placed a strain
on their ability to perform to their own standards. The intrinsic rewards were
not strong enough to keep them in the profession. There is still an
emptiness within most of the 20 Disenchanted when they think of teaching.
The idea of leaving the profession was the farthest thing from their minds in
the early years.
Question 19: How many years had you been teaching when you
made the decision to leave the profession? If you are willing to share them,
what were the circumstances surrounding vour decision? Twelve of the 20
Leavers interviewed related that the decision to leave was not made on the
spur of the moment. They spent long hours thinking of alternatives. The
environment had changed as well as the relationship with the administrator.
Eleven Leavers also stated that the lack of a modicum of support helped
them to make the final decision. Salaries were the basic reasons of four to
choose to leave. Eight Leavers cited stress and burnout as their reasons for
exiting the profession Leaver 1 stated that the weekends were filled with
grading papers, writing lesson plans, and making telephone calls to parents
of students who were failing to do their work. Too much work, health
concerns, extra preparation, stress, and burnout were cited by 8 Leavers as
an impetus to leave their chosen profession. Large class sizes, few or no
growth opportunities, the additional assignments, politics, and sacrificing for
the wrong people were also given as reasons for leaving teaching. Leaver 3
came with 15 years experience plus a Masters Degree and wondered why
the District would not pay for more than three years outside experience. This
led Leaver 3 to decide to leave the district.
How many years had you been teaching when you made the decision
to leave the profession? If you are willing to share them, what were
the circumstances surrounding your decision? (Question 16)
3 4 5 6 7 9 10 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 24
16 10 5,9 15 14 20 11 6 18 1 19 3,4,17 13 2 8 7
Stress/ Lack of Sacrificing for
Burnout Support Wrong People Salaries Other
1,3,4,13,14 1,2,3,5,6.8 15,18 2, 7,10, 20 17,19
Question 20: What could have been done to change vour mind?
Did vou feel a loss of purpose in the daily activities of teaching? How
would vou describe that loss? Five out of 20 Leavers stated that having
support from the administration would have made the difference in their
staying or leaving. The lack of support from their principal made these
Leavers feel as if they had little to contribute to the school. Respect from
parents, administrators, and students as well as recognition for a job well
done would have persuaded 5 leavers to reflect up their decision to leave
the profession. A bonus or an impending salary increase were identified by
5 leavers as a possible incentive to stay. Smaller class sizes, utilization of
teachers strengths, community support, and being provided with a mentor
might have convinced some to remain in teaching. Three Leavers affirmed
that absolutely nothing could have made them change their minds.
Honoring teaching certificates from other states is an issue with 3 of
the Leavers. They entered the state with years of experience and were
given half credit per year up to six years. In todays mobile society, the lack
of a national retirement program hinders many teachers from making a
lifetime career commitment. National teacher certification is something that
the Department of Education should research.
Sixteen Leavers stated that leaving teaching was one of the most
difficult decisions they have ever had to make. The loss is almost
overwhelming to them. The waste of all of the money and the years of
training are what really hurts. Five felt a loss of purpose or direction.
Twelve knew they were leaving long before they actually turned in their
papers of resignation. Daily activities turned into drudgery, and many forced
themselves to stay until the end of the year. Seven were deeply hurt and
humiliated. Four Leavers stated they could not give an answer to what could
have been done to change their minds, and two were just too burned out to
even consider staying. Leaver 15 indicated that there was no loss felt in
leaving the profession.
What would have been done to cause you to change your mind?
Did you feel a loss of purpose in the daily activities of teaching? How
would you describe the loss? (Question 20)
Administrative Respect& Higher
Support Recoanition Salaries Nothina Other
1,8,10,16,20 2, 5, 6,10,14 7,9,10,11,19 4,15,17 3,12,13,18
Describe the Loss
Loss of Burned Hurt/ Low Great No
Puroose Out Humiliated Point Loss Loss Ot!
1,2,3,10,12 2,3 2,4,5,8,11 1,3,10,14 1,2,3,4,5,6 15 6,'
Question 21:How difficult was this decision to leave? Was there
someone who tried to encourage you to remain in teaching? Sixteen out of
the 20 respondents indicated that leaving the teaching profession was a
very difficult decision to make. Four Leavers said the decision was not
difficult to make. To three of the Leavers, it was the most life-affecting
decision they had ever made. To Leavers 3, 11,12, and 18, it was a matter
of health. They were really suffering from the negative effects on their
When asked if there were those who had tried to encourage them to
stay, thirteen of the 20 answered in the affirmative. Their colleagues and
even some administrators asked them to reconsider. The others said that no
one tried to dissuade them. In fact, some of their colleagues just dropped
them. Others respected their decisions to leave. Most colleagues were
supportive, and many wanted the Leavers to stay, but their decision could