Voices of Experience: Why Do Secondary School Teachers Choose To Remain In A Mid-Atlantic Exurban School District
The inability of school leaders to staff the classrooms with qualified teachers and to retain them in the classrooms is a major educational concern. The failure to retain teachers hinders learning, disrupts program continuity, and affects of expenditures for recruiting and hiring (Shen, 1997). Few research studies investigate why new teachers decide to remain in the teaching profession and fewer studies examine why experienced teachers have continued in the field. Little is known about what experienced teachers think about their profession and what internal or external factors persuaded them to remain in teaching. Insight gained can provide better understanding of what motivates them to stay, and it may prove effective in guiding policies for retention. Grounded theoretical investigation, examined why experienced teachers choose to remain in an exurban school district. Interview data were collected from 25 experienced teachers with 10 years of teaching experience in the school district. The results of the study revealed that experienced teachers are motivated primarily internally but need external approval; they perceive their self-image as a teacher from the success of their students, the collegiality of fellow teachers, and from the pride of their families; they believe that school leadership can positively affect teacher retention; they believe that in the school atmosphere, interactions with students and colleagues positively affect teacher retention; and they believe that professional staff development has a positive and negative effect on teacher retention. These findings lead to significant implications and recommendations for schools and school districts. At the school level, school leadership plays a major role in teacher retention. Teachers appreciate administrators who provide them with opportunities for self-fulfillment, growth, and development; time for teacher-student interactions; and collaboration with their colleagues. It is imperative that school districts provide teachers with continuous staff development, competitive salaries, and salary increases to meet the demands of the economy. It is also vital for schools and school districts to value the voices of experienced teachers as an avenue to recruitment and retention. The information gathered from this research may be instrumental in improving working conditions that may encourage teacher retention.