Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Decoteau Irby, Linda Post, Thomas Joynt
Compensation, Educator Effectiveness, Hiring, Reforms, Retention, Teacher
WHY TEACHERS STAY: ELEMENTARY TEACHERS SHARE PERCEPTIONS OF THE JOB SINCE LEGISLATIVE REFORMS IN WISCONSIN
Catherine M. Clarksen
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2014
Under the Supervision of Dr. Leigh Wallace and Dr. Latish Reed
The purpose of this study was to describe the perceptions of elementary public school classroom teachers who remain in the teaching profession amidst legislative reforms that impacted their wages, benefits and working conditions. The study involved ten teachers who were perceived by their building principals as having a direct impact on positive student achievement. Additionally, each participant was required to have taught for a minimum of five years. Requiring a minimum of five years of teaching increased the likelihood that the teachers had developed a level of expertise and were considered professional educators by Wisconsin DPI.
A basic qualitative study approach provided teachers a venue in which to share their lived experiences as teachers. The study analysis revealed three significant themes, as well as thirteen supporting sub-themes. The primary themes were: teacher attributes, professional challenges and organizational culture. Within the theme of teacher attributes were the sub-themes of drawn to children, passion, positivity, routines and structure, and concern for new teachers. The theme of professional challenges included time needed to meet demands of the job, pace of change, political realities, public perception, and curiosity about other careers as sub-themes. The final theme, organizational culture, included the influences of colleagues, principals, and district-level leadership.
The study revealed that job satisfaction guided by intrinsic factors matters more than extrinsic factors. However, as districts modify compensation plans teachers do desire to be treated fairly and have working conditions that allow time to prepare for their day-to-day responsibilities without high levels of stress on themselves and their families. Additionally, the study identified a high level of concern for public perception of their profession. As a result, teachers need to consider taking an active role advocating for their profession and the day-to-day realities teachers face. As teachers are internalizing the public perceptions it is important for them to communicate with the community the realities teachers face rather than having the union be the voice for all teachers. Finally, districts incur significant costs when hiring and training teachers. The study revealed attributes consistent among teachers who are remaining in the profession. It is recommended that when hiring teachers, district personnel consider developing an interview experience that evaluates the teacher attributes revealed in the study.
Clarksen, Catherine Marie, "Why Teachers Stay: Elementary Teachers Share Perceptions of the Job Since Legislative Reforms in Wisconsin" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 621.