Date of Award

Fall 12-13-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Joyce E. Many

Second Advisor

Dr. Sheryl A. Gowen

Third Advisor

Dr. Randall F. Dobbs

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Joel Meyers

Abstract

THE REVOLVING DOOR: HOW LEADERS PUSH TEACHER TURNOVER

by

Suzanne Kay Bryant Miller

In today’s age of accountability leaders of schools cannot afford to lose quality teachers. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requiring schools to staff all classrooms with “highly qualified teachers” creates a major challenge. Today, more than ever, school systems need to retain their experienced and effective teachers.

While many reasons have been attributed to the revolving-door phenomenon known as teacher turnover, this research suggests that school leaders’ behaviors play a major role in the issue. This qualitative inquiry focused on the perceptions of veteran teachers who have migrated from one school to another, having indicated that their primary reason for migrating was because of their leader’s behavior. The following research questions guided the study:

• What were the perceptions of migrating teachers, regarding their previous leader’s behaviors, qualities and attributes, at his/her former school?

• How did these perceptions influence the teacher’s desire to migrate to another school?

• Was there anything that the leader could have done differently that would have made the migrating teacher stay?

Data was gathered through individual interviews, emails, and focus group discussions. The data was then analyzed qualitatively using an interpretivist theory (LeCompte & Schensul, 1999) to address the research questions, and a constant comparative method to determine patterns and themes (Merriam, 2009). Trustworthiness was established through attention to credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

The results of my study identified three main areas of leadership behaviors which teachers indicated directly influenced their decisions to migrate. These three areas were the leaders: (1) Lack of Knowledge of the Business of School-the leader’s lack of skills needed (a) to be supportive, (b) to make connections and build relationship, and (c) to transform school into an effective community; (2) Lack of Professionalism- the leader’s lack of (a) respect, (b) trust, and (c) consistent behavior; and (3) Lack of Personal Morals. While other studies on teacher turnover showed a link between leadership and teacher turnover (Barnett & Berry, 2002; Eggen, 2002; Gonzalez et al., 2008; Hirsch & Emerick, 2007; Thornton et al., 2007), my study revealed specific leadership behaviors that pushed teachers to migrate.

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