Date of Award
Morgridge College of Education
Nicholas J. Cutforth, Ph.D.
Richard Kitchen, Ph.D.
Teacher, Burn out, Life cycle, Narrative, Thriving, Urban teaching, Veteran teachers
Teacher burn out contributes to the epidemic of early career exit. At least half of all new K-12 teachers leave the profession by the time they reach their fifth year of teaching. Conversely, there are urban teachers who survive burn out and thrive as career- long educators.
This qualitative study is an in-depth look into one 40-year veteran teacher's career narrative, answering the question: How did this teacher not only survive but also thrive as a career-long urban teacher? Additionally, the following sub-questions are explored: a) How is her spirit sustained throughout her teacher lifecycle? b) How can her story contribute to the literature as a counter-narrative to the current rhetoric focused on "teacher bashing"?
A critical socio-political lens guides this study. The socio-political forces that lead to urban teacher burn out are explained. The idea of teacher burn in, in which educators experience the symptoms of burn out, but choose to remain in the profession and exist as toxic influences, is discussed and related to teacher career theory. However, the more hopeful idea of urban teacher thrivalis uncovered through narrative methodology.
This narrative study reveals three salient themes. First hope springs eternal is the idea that sustaining hope supported the veteran teacher's career thrival. Next, the extended education family is the notion that familial-like relationships at school nourished the teacher's longevity. The third theme, creative autonomy, reveals that by being empowered with opportunities for curriculum development and instructional decision-making the teacher maintained her passion. Each theme was influenced by the participant's internal dispositional factors and external conditional factors. These factors are discussed. The above themes, combined with deeply rooted caring relationships with students, proved to be the most important aspects of the participant's sustained spirit. Furthermore, this study illustrates how teacher narratives can act as counter-narratives to teacher bashing through revealing the systemic impact that can be made by the career of one thriving teacher. Implications for teachers, educational leaders, teacher educators and researchers are discussed.
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Kristina Marie Valtierra
Received from ProQuest
Valtierra, Kristina Marie, "Beyond Survival to Thrival: A Narrative Study of an Urban Teacher's Career Journey" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 667.
Teacher education, Multicultural education, Pedagogy