Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Second Advisor

Dr. Walter Burt

Third Advisor

Dr. Gary Marx

Abstract

Longevity in teaching careers depends on many things, including job satisfaction, the work environment, career stages, and strategies to manage stress and avoid burnout. Teachers who have high levels of job satisfaction are more likely to stay in the profession. Job satisfaction is dependent on the motivators in a job: administrative support, collegiality, recognition, advancement, and growth. The work environment, job demands, career development, empowerment, and bureaucracy, plays an important role in retaining teachers.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine factors that enabled and encouraged a sample of 12 veteran elementary school teachers in a small urban school district to stay in the teaching profession for 10 or more years. The participants’ reflections of their teaching careers, as defined by their lived experiences, were explored through semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions. These veteran teachers participated in one-on-one interviews with the researcher. The interviews provided sufficient data to address the four research questions developed for the study.

The findings indicated that teachers stay in the teaching profession because they loved teaching and working with children. The teachers commented that teaching had lost its luster and creativity because of federal and state requirements that included restricted curriculum and standardized testing. They avoided stress and burnout through the use of positive coping strategies that were individualistic. Some of the strategies ranged from deep breathing, spending time with family and friends, maintaining a sense of humor, and collaborating with colleagues. Further research should include expanding the study to include middle and high school teachers, increasing the sample size to include multiple and diverse school districts, and using a longitudinal study to follow teachers from their entry into the profession to becoming veteran teachers.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access