Beginning Teacher Support Model: Elementary Teachers’ Resilience and Retention in Arizona

Kelly Olson Stewart, Erin Rotheram-Fuller, Daniel Liou
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In the United States, beginning teacher retention rates are extraordinarily low; only 50% of teachers remain in the classroom after five years. In particular, the State of Arizona has been recruiting significant numbers of teachers from out of state and attempting to retain them with minimal success. This persistent problem has led the neediest of students to have teachers with lower levels of professional experience, leaving those students with continually lower achievement gains. Drawing on integrated action research and grounded theory methodology, this study’s took place in a large kindergarten to eighth grade elementary school district located in a high-poverty neighborhood in Arizona. The study invited six new teachers in their first year of teaching to explore innovative strategies to increase these teachers’ retention in the profession. The ultimate goal was to understand how such support might alter a beginning teacher’s perceptions of their own persistence and resilience in dealing with the challenges of first-year teaching, thereby reducing beginning teacher attrition. The study finds that teachers must be nurtured and cared for in order for them to fully devote their time and energy to effectively care for the students in their classroom. Increasing self-awareness and resiliency has the potential to create a ripple effect to retain more beginning teachers, as they become more likely to persevere, ask for help, connect with others, and achieve a healthy life/work balance while positively impacting students and their community.

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