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Teacher retention/attrition Annotated Bibliography of Teacher Resilience

Mackenzie, S. (2012). I can’t imagine doing anything else: Why do teachers of children with SEN remain in the profession? Resilience, rewards and realism over time. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 12(3), 151–161.

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

This article investigated why teachers of children with special educational needs (SEN) stayed in the profession. Semi-structured interviews and focus-group narratives with 19 teachers, who had 15 years or more experience, revealed that most participants indicated a high level of resilience and a profound commitment to working with children with SEN children. Three groups of factors, situated, professional as well as personal factors, were found attributable to the participants’ resilience. While they constantly faced the intellectual challenge of working with children with SEN, most reported that the rewards of the job were so great they would not want to do anything else. In addition, the participants reported a variety of positive and emotion-charged teaching events that built their sense of resilience. However, not all respondents had ideal reasons for staying. Some practical factors such as lack of opportunities, money, health, holidays, parenthood, and caring enabled the teachers to maintain their motivation and made them stay.

Malloy, W.W., & Allen, T. (2007). Teacher retention in a teacher resiliency-building rural school. Rural Educator, 28(2), 19-27

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition | Teaching rural/remote

This paper examines the resiliency building culture of a rural US school with high teacher retention, high student achievement and a reputation for being a nurturing school in which to work. Surveys and teacher interviews as well as analysis of archival data were used. The resiliency-building steps were: caring and support, setting and communicating high expectations and providing opportunities for meaningful participation."

Manuel, J. (2003). 'Such are the ambitions of youth': Exploring issues of retention and attrition of early career teachers in New South Wales. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 31(2), 139-151.

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher retention/attrition

This longitudinal study tracks the experiences of six NSW teachers in their first five years of working – from 'novice' to 'master' teacher. The paper outlines current issues in teacher retention and different ways of describing phases of teacher development. It suggests various strategies for supporting new teachers and recommends increased links between teacher preparation programs, employing bodies and individual schools so new teachers can access a range of types of support according to their needs.

Margolis, J. (2008). What will keep today's teachers teaching? Looking for a hook as a new career cycle emerges. Teachers College Record 110(1), 160–194

Mentoring | Professional development | Teacher retention/attrition

This paper reports findings from a one year qualitative study in the US. It proposes that teachers with 4-6 years experience are ideally placed to become mentor teachers to students as they are looking for new roles and to regenerate their own enthusiasm. The study interviewed 7 teachers and provided them with workshops and a web based discussion board which enabled them to support each other.

McCormack, A., & Thomas, K. (2005). The reality of uncertainty: The plight of casual beginning teachers. Change: Transformations in Education, 8(1), 17-31

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher retention/attrition

These authors present the findings of surveys and focus groups with new graduates from a range of teacher education programs at a NSW university who were working as casual teachers. They also interviewed employers and university staff. A large proportion (about one third) of graduates worked as casuals and experienced a lack of formal induction and support, difficulties with classroom management and with using work devised by other teachers. They relied on their own informal networks such as other ex-students for support. Recommendations are made for pre-service preparation for this role, and for support by employers and schools.

McCusker, M. L. (2009). Supporting resilient teachers: Resiliency and dynamic leadership in special education teacher retention. (Doctor of Education), Arizona State University. (3360607)

Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

This thesis explored an operational definition of teacher resilience and the role of leadership in fostering teacher resilience in special education. Within the thesis, resilient special education teachers were contended to use their "energy productively to achieve school goals in the face of adverse conditions" (Patterson, Collins & Abbot, 2004, p. 3). The participants of the study were two special education teachers. Data were collected from interviews, analysis of critical incidences, and member checks, as well as evaluation of the effectiveness and usefulness of the interview process and dynamic leadership actions. The analysis of the data revealed that the participating teachers recovered from adversities successfully due to the recognition that their special education students needed them and that what they did was important to their students. The teachers also reported they were able to maintain their resilience due to the support from professional development, administration and school leadership. From these findings, an operation definition of teacher resilience was proposed as comprising multiple subthemes, such as optimism, adaptability, courage, emotional intelligence, fragility and emotional stamina. Moreover, resilience was conceptualised as a continuum, which relates to stress and vulnerabilities. The study was argued to have two important implications for future research and actions. First, teachers should frequently evaluate their own resilience to thrust themselves into a positive resilient mindset. Second, school and district administrators should use appropriate relational leadership strategies to support special education teacher resilience to increase retention.

Merrill, M. (2013). Teacher resilience in high-poverty schools: How do high-quality teachers become resilient? (Doctor of Education), University of California, Los Angeles.

Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

Drawing on Brunetti’s (2006) conceptualisation of resilience as an internal, personal construct that refers to the ability of teachers to “maintain their commitment to teaching and their teaching practices despite challenging conditions and setbacks” (p. 813), this thesis aimed at understanding how high-quality teachers became resilient when teaching in high-poverty schools. The study was maintained to contribute to the resilience literature by targeting at a special group of participants: high-ability college-graduates who have no prior background or preparation in education and who initially agreed on only a two-year teaching commitment through Teach For America (TFA). Data were collected through two phases: first, 72 former TFA corps members were surveyed by an Internet-based questionnaire; second, 14 teachers and 9 former teachers were interviewed. The results indicated that the most common reason veteran teachers left the profession was burnout. Moreover, many challenges the educators in the study confronted included low salary and benefits, not well-regarded by the society, and absence of administrative support. For teachers who stayed, they felt it was adults who were to blame for the failure of the public education system, not the students. They reported deriving the main source of resilience from the positive impact they had on their students, their commitment to teaching, and support from like-minded colleagues and community. They also said that their resilience was enhanced by the ability to take on multiple roles, e.g. involving in athletics, curriculum development, school improvement efforts, and teacher fellowships. The study had two recommendations for practice. First, teachers should be encouraged to take on multiple roles in the school to foster their resilience. Second, teachers should be offered opportunities for professional growth through connections with their students and their colleagues.

Muller, S. M., Gorrow, T. R., & Fiala, K. A.. (2011). Considering protective factors as a tool for teacher resiliency. Education, 131(3), 545-555.

Beginning teachers | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

In this article, resilience, defined as teachers’ capacity to adjust to adverse working conditions, is maintained to be an important element to promote teacher retention. To foster teacher resilience, the researchers argued that it is crucial to identify fundamental protective factors. With the aim of examining six protective factors identified by Henderson (2003) (purpose and expectation; nurture and support; positive connections; meaningful participation; life guiding skills; and clear and consistent boundaries), 92 pre-service teachers, 66 new teachers (1-5 years of experience), 55 experienced teachers (6-10 years), and 126 veteran teachers were asked to complete a 34-item five-point Likert-scale survey. The findings indicated that, while six factors in Henderson’s model were contended to make an equal contribution to the establishment of teacher resilience, the current study found they were unequally associated with teacher resilience. In addition, although all factors suggested by Henderson (2003) were proved to be present, items proposed to represent certain protective factors (e.g. clear and consistent boundaries) were found to be invalid and had to be renamed. The study also highlighted the importance of positive relationships and interactions with colleagues as well as knowing how to fit into the workplace culture and school structure in helping teachers withstand adversity. As a conclusion, the researchers suggested that schools should introduce social networking into school settings (e.g. by creating social networking sites for teachers) to encourage teacher interaction. Moreover, the protective factors verified in the study can be used by school administrators to promote teacher resilience.

Olsen, B., & Anderson, L. (2007). Courses of action: A qualitative investigation into urban teacher retention and career development. Urban Education, 42(1), 5-29

Mentoring | Teacher retention/attrition | Teacher training

Olsen and Anderson interviewed 15 early career teachers in urban schools. While all were still committed to improving urban education, some planned to stay as teachers, some were uncertain about their future and others planned to shift into other related roles. Factors related to staying were administrative support, mentoring, opportunities for taking on multiple roles, and the presence of friends or like-minded peers. Lack of support and family pressure to leave teaching were negative pressures for retention. Implications for schools and teacher education institutions are discussed.

Peters, J., & Pearce, J. (2012). Relationships and early career teacher resilience: A role for school principals. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 18(2), 249-262.

Beginning teachers | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

The article reported the findings of a part of a longitudinal study (2008-2012) funded by the Australian Research Council and industry partners. It concerns the role principals play in promoting early career teachers’ resilience, which is conceptualised with regard to the broader social, economic and political contexts. Data collected from school leaders and first year teachers from 59 primary and secondary schools across two states in Australia indicated that, with support from the school principals, the beginning teachers found teaching enjoyable and rewarding. On the other hand, the lack of appropriate support was reported to add to beginning teachers’ sense of incompetence, as well as create a feeling of isolation and alienation, which eventually resulted in the teachers’ decision to leave the school after a short period of working. The findings consolidate the crucial role principals play in fostering early career teachers’ resilience and retention.

Price, A., Mansfield, C., & McConney, A. (2012). Considering ‘teacher resilience’ from critical discourse and labour process theory perspectives. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 33(1), 81-95.

Beginning teachers | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition | Teacher training | Teacher- or self- efficacy

In this paper, resilience development among early career teachers is discussed as a measure to address the issue of high teacher attrition rate in Australian schools. The views presented in the paper originated from the professional conversations in which the authors engaged as they reviewed the literature of teacher resilience for the Keeping Cool project (2009). Factors that constitute teacher resilience, such as altruism, self-efficacy, confidence and coping strategies, were mentioned, while the relationship between teacher identity and resilience was also discussed. Added to this, a significant proportion of the paper was devoted to the analysis of contextual factors such as risk factors and protective factors that affect resilience. Finally, the paper concluded with a discussion of resilience implications for pre-service teacher education.

Prilik, B. S. (2007). Resiliency in public school teachers of students with emotional disabilities. (Doctor of Education), University of Northern Colorado, Ann Arbor. (3280267)

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

This study explored the resilience of teachers of students with emotional disabilities. In the study, resilience is characterised as “the presence of protective factors or processes that moderate the relationship between stress and risk, on the one hand, and coping or competence, on the other” (Smith & Carlson, 1997, p. 236). 12 teachers, 9 females and 3 males with teaching experience ranging between 6 years and 30 years teaching students with emotional disabilities were involved in 12 in-depth individual interviews and 2 separate focus group interviews. The results showed that the participants in the study represented a high burnout population, facing a multitude of stressors, namely students’ high level of needs, violent and aggressive behaviours, a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, a lack of support from administrators and colleagues, excessive amount of paper work and overwhelming responsibilities. However, the teacher proactively developed their own protective mechanisms: taking care of themselves mentally and physically, separating work from personal life, developing a strong network of support at work, participating in counselling, using of anti-anxiety medication, and talking to family and friends. As a conclusion, the researcher maintained that action strategies may be a promising approach that should be investigated to increase teacher resilience and retention.

Prosser, B. (2008). The role of the personal domain in middle years teachers' work. Australian Journal of Middle Schooling, 8(2), 11-16

Emotions in teaching | Teacher retention/attrition

Prosser presents a case study of three experienced South Australian middle school teachers. The focus is on the 'emotional labour' of their work and the implications of this for individuals, employers, the community and pre-service teaching courses.

Schlichte, J., Yssel, N., & Merbler, J. (2005). Pathways to burnout: Case studies in teacher isolation and alienation. Preventing School Failure, 50(1), 35-40

Mentoring | Teacher retention/attrition

This paper describes a small case study where five novice special education teachers were interviewed about their positive and negative experiences and coping strategies in their first year of teaching. The importance of mentors, administrative support, and emotional relationships with and support from students, families and colleagues are highlighted. Some tentative implications are raised including that teacher educators should encourage networking and collaboration between their students as these bonds could be important networks for beginning teachers.

Smethem, L. (2007). Retention and intention in teaching careers: Will the new generation stay? Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 13(5), 465 - 480

Beginning teachers | Teacher retention/attrition

Set within a clear review of current literature and issues, this study investigates beginning secondary language teachers' views on work, their motivations, how they cope with (largely bureaucratic) change, the impact of their induction and their intentions for career development in their early years of teaching. Three types of teachers emerged from the 18 interviews: the 'career' teacher, the 'classroom' teacher and the 'portfolio' teacher, whose commitment to teaching may be temporary. The importance of strengthening moral purpose and of supportive induction processes and the formation of professional learning communities is highlighted.

Smith, T. M., & Ingersoll, R. M. (2004). What are the effects of induction and mentoring on beginning teacher turnover? American Educational Research Journal, 41(3), 681-714

Beginning teachers | Mentoring | Teacher retention/attrition

This comprehensive quantitative study uses data obtained from a stratified sample of all beginning teachers in the US in 1999-2000. It investigates the prevalence of induction programs, the frequency of new teachers' participation in such programmes, rates of turnover and identifies 'stayers', 'movers' and 'leavers'. New teachers were found to be more likely to stay if they have had a mentor in the same subject area, have participated in collaborative planning with other teachers, and if they have participated in an external network of teachers organised by an outside agency or on the internet. Implications for policy makers are discussed.

Sumsion, J. (2003). 'Bad Days don't kill you: They Just Make you Stronger: a case study of an early childhood educator's resilience. International Journal of Early Years Education, 11:2, 141-154

Early childhood teachers | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

This paper aimed to investigate what enables some children's services staff to withstand the impact of factors that lead others to leave. What accounts for their resilience to adverse structural factors? The findings are based on one in depth case study of one Early Childhood Education teacher in NSW whom the researcher had observed as having a long and successful career despite workplace adversity. The research findings were based on an analysis of two in depth conversational interviews and careful reading of the teachers 150 page professional portfolio. During interviews, the teacher was asked about her motivations to teach, career history, significant influences on her career, what she saw as 'protective factors' for career satisfaction despite difficult circumstances. The teacher identified a range of factors in contributing to her resilience including the personal qualities of self insight, leadership skills, risk taking and perseverance, a macro perspective and self preservation. Contextual factors were also viewed as significant and included having a support network, having a mentor and participating in ongoing PD opportunities. The research identified interplay between personal and contextual features and concluded that three key factors supporting teacher resilience: teaching as inquiry, teaching as connectedness and appreciating the bigger picture.

Tait, M. (2008). Resilience as a contributor to novice teacher success, commitment, and retention. Teacher Education Quarterly, Fall, 57-75.

Beginning teachers | Emotions in teaching | Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition | Teacher- or self- efficacy

This study focused on novice teachers' resilience, personal efficacy and emotional competence and their possible impact on their sense of success, confidence, and commitment to the profession. Resilience is defined as "...a mode of interacting with events in the environment that is activated and nurtured in times of stress (p. 58). Resilience is closely linked with personal efficacy and emotional intelligence within the article. This mixed-methods study profiled a novice teacher in Toronto, Ontario who was considered to be representative of the themes raised by four resilient study participants (out of 25) who rated themselves highly in terms of both satisfaction and stressful experiences on a questionnaire. Participants completed a Stress Resilience Test (SRT) (Chrysalis Performance Strategies, 2003), participated in guided interviews, and wrote a piece of prose linking their vision of teaching to an area of personal interest or expertise through metaphor. Highly resilient novices were identified as demonstrating social competence, taking advantage of opportunities to develop personal efficacy, using problem-solving strategies, having the ability to rebound after a difficult experience, learning from experience and setting goals for the future, taking care of oneself, and maintaining a sense of optimism. The author recommended that pre-service programs emphasize the collegial nature of teaching, provide opportunities to forge personal and professional relationships, offer resilience-building activities and strategies, address emotional competencies, encourage novice teachers to recognize and talk about resilient responses to events, and provide assertiveness training. In addition, reasonable teaching assignments, promoting mentoring and networking groups and selective admissions were identified as useful strategies for promoting resilient teachers.

Taylor, J. L. (2013). The power of resilience: A theoretical model to empower, encourage and retain teachers. The Qualitative Report, 18, 1-25.

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition | Teaching rural/remote

Teachers face massive challenges, namely low salaries, lack of administrative support, job dissatisfaction, student discipline problems, a lack of influence over school decision-making and teacher blame. In that context, this study explored the characteristics of resilience that influenced teachers’ retention in a rural community. teacher resilience is defined as “the ability to adjust to varied situations and increase one’s competence in the face of adverse conditions” (p. 2). The participants of the study were four female African American teachers, representatives of a teacher population that have less stable careers and high attrition rate. Using the historical biography method with a narrative inquiry technique, the study confirmed eight themes of resilience as identified in Polidore’s Theory of Adult Resilience in Education (2004): religion, flexible locus of control, ability to view adverse situations positively, autonomy, commitment, enjoyment of change, positive relationships, and positive view of education. An additional theme, efficacy, emerged. As a conclusion, it was argued that teachers should be equipped with adequate teaching resources to enjoy a sense of job satisfaction. Teachers should also be provided with sufficient tools to deal with educational reforms and changes.

Taylor, M. J., & Swetnam, L. (2000). Building resilience in a gendered journey: A study of women's paths to science teaching. Equity & Excellence in Education, 33(1), 36-47.

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

Using Wolin's (1993) coping strategies as a framework, the study examined why 80 women chose to become, and remain, science educators. Important dimensions of resilience - initiative, humour, creativity and independence – were identified through analysis of a 26 item questionnaire (included as an appendix to the paper). Interestingly, development of professional relationships was not identified as particularly important in the quantitative component of the study. The study was exploratory in nature and also identified some key reasons why women chose to become science teachers and the significant challenges they faced as educators.

Tyson, O., Roberts, C. M., & Kane, R. (2009). Can implementation of a resilience program for primary school children enhance the mental health of teachers? Australian Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 19(2), 116-130.

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

This study examined whether a mental health promotion program helped teachers foster their resilience. Teaching is maintained to be a profession that involves a variety of stressors such as students’ misbehaviour, time constraints, poor professional relationships, low salaries, lack of resources, difficult interactions with parents, which lead to psychological disorders like anxiety and depression. Such mental health problems can lead to teacher attrition. The current study employed an experimental design that involved 405 primary school teachers from 63 Australian government schools, with some teachers in the control group and some teachers placed in the Training and Coaching intervention group (to help their students improve their social life skills and optimistic thinking skills in accordance with the Aussie Optimism program). Two assessments of teaching-related anxiety and depression were conducted at 12 months and 24 months. The results indicated that the teachers in the experimental group demonstrated significant lower scores in terms of job-related anxiety and depression, suggesting that the implementation of a mental health program for students resulted in better mental wellbeing for teachers. To conclude, the authors suggested that further studies should be conducted to investigate the direct impact of the Aussie Optimism program on teacher resilience.

Vernold, E. L. (2008). Special education teacher resiliency: What keeps teachers in the field? (Doctor of Education), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. (3310973)

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition

This study examined the relationship between special educators’ degrees of satisfaction and resiliency building factors found in schools, and special education teacher retention. Resilience is viewed as the ability to bounce back, to cope, to adapt, and to develop social competence despite adversity (Gordon, 1995; Linville, 1987; Warner & Smith, 1982). Thirty eight special education teachers in one North Carolina school district were conducted from a survey instrument, the National Association of Secondary Principals’ Teacher Satisfaction Survey and a series of open ended questions. The results showed that the special education teachers in the study faced several challenges, such as too much paperwork, a lack of curricular resources, and minimal amounts of planning time. However, the number of years that the teachers spent in their current positions did not predict their degrees of satisfaction with resiliency-building factors in their schools. Moreover, teachers who indicated that they would not come back to their jobs for the 2007- 2008 school year all had low satisfaction ratings for resiliency-building factors in their school, while those who said they would come back were satisfied with the resiliency-building factors in their school. As a conclusion, the study emphasised that the resiliency-building factors, (a caring/supportive work environment, opportunity for meaningful participation, and the communication of high expectations) are important reasons affecting teacher resiliency and retention.

Warshauer Freedman, S., & Appleman, D. (2008). "What else would I be doing?". Teacher identity and teacher retention in urban schools. Teacher Education Quarterly, Summer(2008), 109-126.

Beginning teachers | Teacher retention/attrition | Teacher training

The study tracked the career trajectories of 3 graduates from a targeted program (MUSE) that prepared teachers for appointments in disadvantaged urban schools. The study ran over 5 years. Three graduates were discussed in detail, two of whom no longer were teaching in the classroom. This small sample seemed at odds with the typical graduate (it was reported that, after 5 years, 73% of graduates were either teaching or doing curriculum development). Findings reported in the paper suggest that the program was having some success in disadvantaged urban schools. Higher teacher retention rates were noted.

Waterman , S., & He, Y. (2011). Effects of mentoring programs on new teacher retention: A literature review. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 19(2), 139–156.

Beginning teachers | Mentoring | Teacher retention/attrition

This article explored the supportive role of mentoring programs on retaining early career teachers. Examining 14 studies on the subject, the researchers found that findings regarding the connection between mentoring programs and teacher retention from past research were inconclusive. Whereas most studies showed that early career teachers felt supported by mentors who met with them frequently, one study revealed novices rejected regular meetings with mentors while another study showed novices who rarely met with their mentors were more likely to stay in teaching than those who met with them daily. Furthermore, some studies showed positive associations between mentoring programs, administrative support, ongoing training and teacher retention, while some studies indicated the lack of or inadequacy of mentoring programs led to teachers leaving the profession, as it contributed to the atmosphere of “professional, social, and emotional disavowal” (p. 148). As an implication for further studies, the paper suggested that there should be more research collaboration across schools, districts, and states to encourage the sharing of resources and research capacities to examine more thoroughly the effects of mentoring on teacher retention.

Yost, D.S. (2006). Reflection and Self-Efficacy: Enhancing the Retention of Qualified Teachers from a Teacher Education Perspective. Teacher Education Quarterly (Fall), 9-76.

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher retention/attrition | Teacher training | Teacher- or self- efficacy

This study incorporated qualitative methods to identify the obstacles, the aspects of teacher education that shaped success, and the extent that teachers were able to use critical reflection as a problem-solving tool. The study involved interviewing ten second-year teachers and their principals, observations of teaching, and a follow-up questionnaire three years later. Results of the study supported the view that the development of self-efficacy during teacher training involved opportunities to successfully apply learning in practice, and to critically reflect upon challenges. A supportive school environment was not found to be the most important factor in retaining teachers, since efficacious teachers tended to transfer rather than drop out of teaching altogether.

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