An Examination of Teacher Supports
Background: The union of the American Federation of Teachers identified 4 characteristics in its 2022 report, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” that impacted teacher retention: compensation, climate, culture, and working conditions. During the 2022 school year a teachers union reported 55% of its members indicated they would leave the profession before their planned retirement date. Holguine Jules-CeJour (2022), also reported 44% of teachers exit the profession within 5 years of service. Purpose: This qualitative case study explored teacher perceptions regarding workplace support that are provided to teachers by using this question: How did workplace supports affect teacher retention? Method: This study used Carspecken’s five-stage qualitative research design to determine the perceptions of five participants regarding support teachers received in their workplace locations and how these supports impacted their employment decisions. A convenience sampling was used to identify the participants from the researcher/participant’s professional network. Data collection methods included individual semi-structured interviews that were conducted via the University of Houston’s Microsoft Teams platform. The interview items were developed by the researcher/participant and reviewed by an educational expert. An individual member checking interview was conducted to determine content accuracy followed by a focus group interview to obtain additional information to respond to the research question. The researcher/participant’s field journal was used to provide additional information related to participants’ responses to the research question. A coding system was used to categorize segments of data into meaningful themes. Results: Five themes emerged during the semi-structured interviews and were validated during the focus group and member checking interviews. The themes that emerged regarding teachers perceptions of supports not provided in the workplace were: 1) Devalued teacher choice of professional development and an overall disrespect of teacher voice, 2) Lack of priority regarding teachers’ health and wellbeing by administration, 3) Stressful working conditions, 4) Lack of opportunity/Low morale related to teacher retention efforts, and 5) the need for administrative support regarding culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy, administrative support for cross curricular PLC meetings, and the need for more workplace community engagement between administration and staff, emerged as themes throughout the interviews. Conclusion: Teacher perceptions regarding these specific supports found that teachers’ employment decisions were impacted by a lack of these supports provided in their workplaces. Teachers did confirm that some were leaving or desired to leave due to a lack of support in these areas by campus administration.