|Description||The Problem: The problem of this qualitative study was to identify reasons
teachers may be leaving teaching early in their careers.
Procedures: Twenty former Des Moines Public School (DMPS) Des
Moines, Iowa, elementary, secondary, classroom, and special education
teachers agreed to participate in this study. Each had been in teacher education
programs and coursework after 1986 and taught seven or fewer years between
1991 and 2001. Data records included (a) school district public documents, (b)
initial telephone conversations, (c) field notes, (d) transcribed audiotaped
interviews, and (e) journal writing. Analysis of data combined methodologies of
Strauss (1 987) and Clandinin and Connelly (2000): constant comparative and
Findinqs: This analysis indicated the participants' decisions to leave
teaching were initiated by disillusionment with teaching. Disillusionment stemmed
from unexpected problems in motivating and disciplining students, in giving a fair
amount of time and attention to each student, and in overriding their own
emotions, particularly the empathetic stress from working with troubled students.
For 14 participants, teaching in out-of-field positions intensified the
disillusionment. Disillusionment combined with a lack of professional support, a
teaching environment of conflict and violence, overwork, and an inadequate
salary were other reasons given for leaving as well as teacher burnout. A few
teachers entered teaching as a stepping stone to other professions.
Conclusions: First, teachers leave teaching when they are unable to
overcome their disillusionment. Second, out-of-field teaching and lack of support
intensify the problems. Third, teachers leave when they work in an environment
of conflict and violence. Fourth, teachers leave when teaching does not meet or
interferes with the needs of themselves or their families, particularly due to
workload and salary. Fifth, teachers leave when they experience career burnout.
Sixth, teachers leave to fulfill their plan for entering another profession.
Recommendations. The following implications emerged from this study for
the DMPS. New teachers need: (a) increased administrative support in the areas
of motivation and discipline including no tolerance for abuse toward teachers, (b)
individualized induction programs particularly for teachers in out-of-field
positions, (c) increased professional support and planning time, (d) increased
salary, and (e) increased concern for teachers' stress and well-being. Other
implications emerged for teacher education programs. Preservice teachers need
increased: (a) exposure to more diverse teaching situations, (b) practice in
classroom management strategies, (c) understanding of emotions, workload,
politics, and lifestyle associated with teaching.||en