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Perspectives and the Promise of Tomorrow: A Phenomenological Study of the Experiences of Early Career Teachers and How They Might Be Retained

Kari Veleba, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Research says that at least twenty percent of new teachers leave the teaching profession within five years (Fensterwald, 2015). We are not currently producing enough teachers to replace them and will most likely have a shortage of teachers in the future as a large percentage of the workforce retires as well. Teacher retention is an important goal, and the development and support of young teachers before and during their transition into the workforce is vital for their success and continuation in the workforce (Fenwick, 2011). It is also important to understand that these early years are crucial for the construction of their professional identity as teachers. This importance is underscored by international evidence that suggests that constraints on identity formation may prompt early career teachers to leave the profession. This study shines a light on the experiences and identity development of early career teachers with the goal of increasing our ability to appropriately mentor and retain them.The collective experience early career teachers have during their first five years of teaching was analyzed. Three themes emerged from the data. The themes were systems of support, managing emotions, and the craft of teaching. The themes help us better understand the needs of these young teachers as they begin their professional lives and any potential crises they may encounter as they learn to negotiate their newly developing teacher identities within a classroom setting. One possible implication is explicit instruction in teacher preparation programs around professional teacher identity construction and what it entails. Since an important factor in student achievement is the quality of the classroom teacher, the results discussed and the implications generated will help districts and schools retain experienced, high-caliber teachers in every classroom.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Veleba, Kari, "Perspectives and the Promise of Tomorrow: A Phenomenological Study of the Experiences of Early Career Teachers and How They Might Be Retained" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28864573.