Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Reflection and Self-Efficacy: Enhancing the Retention of Qualified Teachers from a Teacher Education Perspective

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Reflection and Self-Efficacy: Enhancing the Retention of Qualified Teachers from a Teacher Education Perspective

Article excerpt

Teacher retention has been the subject of much study, yet recent estimates of teachers who choose to leave the profession within the first three years to pursue other careers remains at an unacceptably high level of 33.5 percent (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2004). These figures are alarming in light of the fact that schools desperately need qualified teachers. Several authors maintain that in order to solve the teacher shortage problem, the focus should be on retaining already qualified teachers rather than encouraging alternative routes to certification (Cochran-Smith, 2004). Growing evidence also suggests that teachers who lack adequate preparation to become teachers are more likely to leave the profession (Darling-Hammond, 2003).

Studies on teacher retention demonstrate that some teachers are both resilient and persistent, remaining in the profession despite being confronted with the same challenges and obstacles of those who leave. Traits of resiliency and persistence describe people who are able to recover strength and spirits quickly and persevere in the face of obstacles. In a review of the literature on teacher resiliency, Bobeck (2002) contends that five primary factors are responsible for teachers remaining in the field despite the challenges they face: (1) relationships (mentoring programs, administrative and parental support); (2) career competence and skills; (3) personal ownership of careers (ability to solve problems, set goals, and help students); (4) sense of accomplishment (experiencing success); and (5) sense of humor.

Resiliency is found in teachers who transfer to other schools, according to Johnson and Birkeland (2003). They studied the career paths of 50 new teachers in Massachusetts and concluded:

   Unlike those in the study who left the public school classroom
   altogether, the voluntary movers had not given up on teaching
   instead they looked for schools that made good teaching
   possible. (p. 21)

This result is compared to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (2004), which reported that dissatisfaction from administration and opportunities for professional development are key factors in teachers choosing to transfer to other schools to find better employment opportunities and working conditions.

Related Research

School Culture

The school culture literature points out that teacher retention decreases when teachers are confronted with inadequate support by administrators, lack of resources, and the mismatch between the traditional practices of teacher education program curricula and schools (Chester & Beaudin, 1996; 1996; Feiman-Nemser, 2003; Hebert & Worthy, 2001; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003; Kelley, 2004; Wood, 2001). Factors that also correlate highly with teacher attrition are working conditions: large class size, heavy teaching loads, lack of administrative or other support, and inadequate resources (Darling-Hammond, 2003). Hebert and Worthy (2001) point out that novice teachers are often given difficult class assignments, schedules that allow little time for reflection, and ineffective mentors, who may be unwilling or unable to provide support to novice teachers.

Hertzog's study (2002) of novice teachers revealed that they are expected to engage in activities that result in the development of shared meaning and a sense of community in their schools. This involves an alignment between the philosophy of the new teacher and the context in which he or she is teaching. The notion of collective efficacy means that greater confidence is attained when its constituents have shared visions and goals (Pajares, 1996). Thus, it seems logical to conclude that if a teacher's philosophy is not in line with a school's shared vision then a teacher must make a choice to join the collective group stance, align him or herself to minority opposing views, or leave either the school or teaching profession entirely. …

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