Novice teachers’ perspectives of what leadership can do to retain teachers




Westbrook, Pilar Leigh

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Addressing teacher turnover is costly regarding recruitment, training, and student learning loss to schools and taxpayers. Given such high costs and importance in the growth and stability in society, understanding novice teachers’ perceptions about teacher attrition needs further investigation. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate what leadership methods and administrative supports are needed to retain novice teachers. There were three research questions: (a) What can principals/school leaders provide to support and retain teachers? (b) Do the leadership principles outlined by Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005) align with novice teacher job satisfaction enough to retain teachers? (c) What are the most important pillars of the leadership responsibility matrix as they pertain to perceptions of novice teachers about retention? The study was conducted through multiple focus groups and interviews with 13 novice teachers who had 0 to 3 years of experience working in a school district serving a high poverty, high minority student population of 12,000 students. Each research question was satisfied based on data collected and coded into themes that afforded a clear understanding of what novice teachers need to feel and be successful in teaching. The collective findings from the participants found the following themes as those most important to support and keep teachers: Coaching, Communication, Relationships, Cooperative Team Building, Resources, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) of teachers, and Culture. The qualitative data suggest a loosely coupled relationship exists between needs of the novice teachers and the 21 responsibilities of school leaders. The predominant theme of coaching surfaced among the novice teacher participants. Findings from the study may be used by school districts to obtain a better understanding of modern leadership principles from the viewpoint of novice teachers. The findings suggest there are growth opportunities for school leaders to encourage, grow, and sustain teachers. The study concludes with recommendations for future research.


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