Applying Behavior Change Theory to Building the Teacher Pipeline
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Background: Behavior change research asserts that change occurs across six stages: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. Applied research has proven that change is more likely when interventions are appropriately matched to the stage of change of the subject. Career counseling research has found that, to successfully target potential job candidates, a recruiter must have an understanding of the “stage of change” a professional is in before implementing recruitment activities. Purpose: There is limited research available exploring the backgrounds and mediating experiences that influence a career changer’s decision to leave their primary profession to become a teacher, thus making it unlikely that school districts’ resources are being allocated effectively to influence the composition of their teacher pipeline. This qualitative case study applied behavior change theories and frameworks to the experiences of professionals from various fields who decided to transition to teaching through Teach For America. Methods: The study incorporated a survey and semi-structured interviews with nine former Teach For America corps members who have transitioned to teaching from a career path unrelated to the field of education. The instruments included an online survey related to the career changer's personal experiences prior to transitioning to education, as well as individual interviews to explore the depth of their experiences during the year prior to their decision to teach. Results: An analysis of the data from both sources identified common themes related to the change process, as defined by Prochaska and Velicer's Transtheoretical Model of Career Change (1997) (TTM) and Barclay, Stolz, and Chung’s (2011) Integration of the TTM and Life Span-Life Space models. Conclusion: The research provides insight on the varying stages a career changer may experience prior to becoming a teacher and suggests appropriate recruitment activities to influence their decision to transition.
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