Secondary mathematics teacher retention : a narrative case study of experienced teachers.
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Kerschen, Keith, 1988-
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Teacher turnover is a major issue facing schools today. Mathematics has been an area negatively impacted by teacher turnover, as many schools report shortages and staffing issues within the discipline. Researchers have called for an increased focus on the factors that contribute to the retention of teachers in an effort to address the issue of teacher turnover. The purpose of this narrative case study was to provide insight into the issue of mathematics teacher turnover by examining the experiences and perspectives of four experienced secondary mathematics teachers and their decisions to remain in the classroom teaching. The participants in this study were selected purposefully with the criteria of being a current, experienced secondary mathematics teacher. An experienced teacher for this study was defined as a mathematics teacher with at least 19 years of teaching experience. The researcher conducted four interviews and three observations of each participant. Two of the observations were conducted of the participants teaching in their own classroom and the third observation was focused on the participants’ interactions with colleagues during a staff or departmental meeting. In addition, participants completed a narrative writing sample by responding to a prompt created by the researcher. Evidence from the literature suggests that resilience plays an important role in teacher retention. As a result, a teaching resilience theoretical framework was used by the researcher to craft interview questions, observation protocols, and narrative writing prompts. Each participant was examined as a separate case before cross-case analysis was conducted to reveal common themes. Results from this study revealed administrative support and the success of former students are all contributing factors in teacher retention. Additionally, participants indicated resiliency played an important role in their retention decisions, explaining that without being resilient, they would no longer be in the classroom. Other themes that emerged related to teacher retention include managing the discipline related stressors of teaching and finding the right fit. The researcher provided implications and recommendations based on these results for school administrators, teacher preparation programs, and education policymakers. Future areas of research are also identified by the researcher.