Listening to the voices of beginning teachers: providing meaningful administrative support is a moral act and results in increasing retention among beginning educators

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mark Alvis Rumley (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Charles Gause

Abstract: The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand and "make sense" of how beginning teachers experience and define lack of principal/administrative support during their beginning years of teaching. Utilizing grounded theory as a conceptual framework, I sought to deconstruct the stories and lived experiences of nine beginning teachers across eight school districts in North Carolina and to generate substantive theory regarding the phenomena associated with principal support. Educational research around this topic has largely reported numbers and corresponding percentages related to novice teacher attrition, but little qualitative work with teachers themselves has been undertaken to deconstruct and fully understand what they classify as principal support or the lack thereof during initial employment years. Various data, reports and resulting trends, as documented by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF), continue to confirm that many beginning teachers either transfer to other schools/districts to find supportive environments, or they leave the profession entirely as a result of perceiving that adequate administrative support was not provided. This study used multiple interviews and focus group sessions to capture the lived experiences of six participants who have remained in teaching but who transferred to settings where they reported having received support; it also includes stories and experiences from three teachers who left after one, two, or three years of experience for the reported reason of "lack of principal/administrative support." This work found that matters related to presence, communication, trust, and integrity are at the heart of principal support and that novice teachers make assessments about principal support with regard to specific leadership traits and characteristics that principals embody and display within these four categories. Both the quantity and quality of interactions, experienced over time between novice teachers and their principals, form the very basis upon which beginning teachers determine and report whether or not they have experienced principal/administrative support. Similarly, these teachers' reasons for remaining in their schools, leaving their work settings, or resigning from the teaching profession emanate directly from their experiences related to principal support as defined herein. While the findings from this study cannot be generalized across larger populations of beginning teachers, they do suggest that much more qualitative work needs to be undertaken with novice teachers. Doing so would allow the profession to understand even more about the importance of principals' presence, manner and frequency of communication, trust-building, and matters related to both fostering and maintaining integrity.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Administrative support, Novice teacher attrition, Novice teacher retention, Principal support, Teacher support, Theory of teacher support
School principals $z United States.
Teacher-principal relationships.
First year teachers $x Supervision of $z United States.
First year teachers $z United States $x Attitudes.
Educational leadership $x Moral and ethical aspects $z United States.
Mentoring in education.
Teacher turnover $x Research $z United States.

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