Teacher Retention: A Phenomenological Investigation into the Lived Experiences of Three Elementary Teacher Stayers




Sell, Corey

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Teacher stayers have remained within a profession experiencing an average annual turnover rate of 14% (Liu, 2007) and its lowest levels of job satisfaction in 20 years (MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 2011). Exploring the lived experiences of teacher stayers might hold significant potential in decreasing the turnover rate given they have successfully negotiated the factors that often drive others out. This study sought to understand the essence of teacher retention for three elementary teacher stayers using Bronfenbrenner's (1976) ecological structure of the educational environment. Data were collected using four in-depth interviews with each teacher stayer and analyzed using a phenomenological method of data analysis. The findings reveal teacher retention for each narrator involved a unique constellation of factors within the micro- and meso-system that outweighed the perceived frustrations and pressures exerted by the exosystem, thus sustaining them in the profession. Though these findings failed to uncover a simple and direct cause of teacher retention, they capture a totality of the phenomenon--involving the interactive nature of an individual and their environment--that provide further insight into teacher retention. Understanding the essence of teacher retention for these three elementary teacher stayers has implications for teacher education as well as education policy.



Elementary education, Education policy, Teacher education, Elementary education, Lived experiences, Phenomenology, Teacher education, Teacher retention, Teacher stayers