Experiences and Perceptions of High School Teachers Who Voluntarily Ended Employment: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study

Experiences and Perceptions of High School Teachers Who Voluntarily Ended Employment: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study

Author: 
Carla Holland
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
turnover is often attributed to overall teacher job satisfaction. The significance of this study is that teacher job satisfaction is a compelling indicator of teacher turnover intention. Teacher retention supports student achievement and is economically advantageous for school districts, directing funds to programs and instructional needs rather than teacher recruitment and induction. The purpose of this study was to explore high school teachers’ experiences and perceptions to increase understanding of the factors that contribute to teacher turnover in a suburban school district. This hermeneutic, qualitative study explored the experiences and perceptions of seven high school teachers that voluntarily left a suburban school district located in central Colorado between 2011 and 2016. The sample of study participants was purposive and snowball sampling was used to recruit possible participants. Face-to-face, individual interviews provided data transcribed with the aid of a contracted transcriptionist. The findings of this qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological study were guided by the van Manen thematic method of analysis. The hermeneutic circle was used to identify main themes and NVivo, version 11, software was used to assist with identifying sub-themes regarding the reasons for teacher turnover. Participant experiences and perceptions aligned with factors of job satisfaction which were impacted by emergent themes of community, educational philosophies, leadership, and teacher policies and practices. Study participants expressed concerns with teacher support, political-driven reforms, leadership, implementation practices, elements of culture and climate, and work-life balance. In conclusion, a combination of factors influenced all study participants to voluntarily leave the school district.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to the many teachers with whom I’ve had the privilege of working and collaborating with. Your daily, undying commitment to fulfill the demanding requirements of your job is inspiring and admirable. Through my work and collaboration with teacher leaders, I have been able to fulfill my dream of furthering my education to serve in a higher capacity to improve educational organizations and student learning. I applaud your dedication to art of teaching and your love of children. This dissertation topic was selected to improve your job satisfaction and ensure that the field of education continues to recruit and retain high quality teachers for the success of all students. My exploration of your experiences and perceptions have increased my own knowledge on the topic of teacher turnover and will inform my own practices as a leader. I would also like to dedicate this dissertation to my wonderful husband Brian and my beloved daughters, Rachel and Whitney. You are my reasons, every day. Your encouragement and support has helped me fulfill my dream of becoming a doctoral prepared educator. Thank you for listening, for your words of encouragement, and your love. Finally, I would like to dedicate this work to my mother, Henrietta. Your constant encouragement to achieve the highest education possible and to always be the best I could be has been my daily inspiration and motivation. My only wish is that you were here to see my work and achievements. Thank you for teaching me independence, diligence, perseverance, and patience. I love you and miss you.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to acknowledge the following people without whom this achievement would not have been possible: First, I would like to acknowledge my dissertation committee chair, Dr. Patricia Penn. As a professor of one of my doctoral courses, I admired her facilitation and student support skills. I considered myself very lucky when she was able to accept me as a learner. Her expertise in the field of education, dissertation committees, mentoring, and writing has been very beneficial to my success. I value her knowledge, ideas, and suggestions, and I appreciate her kindness, honesty, and patience. Dr. Penn’s participation in my doctoral journey enhanced my learning experience. I consider her my mentor, advocate, supporter, and most of all, the educator I aspire to become. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed navigating this journey with Dr. Penn by my side. I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Grania Gothard-Holman and Dr. Lisa Leith for their contributions as committee members. I appreciate their interest, expertise, and guidance with the dissertation process. Dr. Gothard-Holman provided feedback and input consistent with her expertise as a professor and with qualitative studies. Dr. Leith brought her expertise, both in the field of education and with qualitative studies. I would like to acknowledge my friend, Judi Hofmeister, whose support and encouragement has been life-changing. She has been my peer supporter through her ability to listen, provide suggestions and encouragement, and participate in conversation that guided me to success.