Why do beginning teachers leave school?
Hong, Ji Yeon
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With the increasing concern about high attrition rates among beginning teachers, it is imperative to better understand this dropout phenomenon. This is because teachers leaving the profession early poses a considerable burden to schools and students, and impacts school effectiveness overall. In order to explore this issue, the current study focused on teachers’ professional identity, which has been shaped from the pre-service teacher stage. This study included four groups of teachers in the teaching trajectory: pre-service teachers before student-teaching (Group I), pre-service teachers after student-teaching (Group II), dropout teachers who were in the teaching profession less than five years (Group III-A), and beginning teachers who have taught less than five years (Group III-B). Also, teachers’ professional identity was further broken down into six factors: value, efficacy, commitment, emotions, knowledge & beliefs, and micropolitics. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore how people in different levels of the teaching profession perceive their professional identity differently, and how these perceptions are related to their dropout decision. Under the theoretical framework of phenomenology and symbolic interactionism, this study employed multi-methods using both qualitative interview and quantitative survey. A total of 84 participants for quantitative survey and 27 for individual interview were recruited from the Secondary Science Teacher Certificate Program at the University of Georgia and those who had graduated from the same program. The survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, ANOVA, and MANOVA. For interview data, inductive analysis and constant comparison method were employed. The result showed that four groups of participants perceived their professional identity differently. Their value, efficacy, commitment, emotion, knowledge & beliefs, and micropolitics showed different patterns, and the greatest difference was found in their emotional burnout. Dropout teachers’ lack of self-efficacy in managing the classroom, their unfulfilled commitment, demanding administration, and beliefs emphasizing their heavy responsibilities were perceived to be related to teachers’ emotional burnout. Based on the findings, this study suggested several implications for pre-service teacher education program and in-service teachers’ professional development.
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