Term of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Barbara Mallory

Committee Member 1

Meca Johnson-Williams

Committee Member 2

Penny Johnson


Author's abstract: The researcher's purpose of this study was to understand from the lived experiences of teachers in high poverty schools the reasons they remained in these schools. A qualitative method was used to conduct the study, which involved interviews with eight teachers (4 elementary, 2 middle and 2 high), one principal and the Superintendent who responded to open-ended interview questions. The interview questions were designed to elicit responses to the research questions and interview questions. The researcher coded transcripts from the interviews for recurring themes and patterns. Field notes from before and after each interview, as well as district and state documents were used as additional sources of data. The study gave teachers in high poverty schools a voice to help the researcher understand the challenges these teachers faced, the satisfaction they obtained and the opportunities that allowed for longevity in high poverty schools. Each teacher shared their lived experiences as they related to the reasons they sustained employment in these schools. The principal and the Superintendent also added to the depth to the study by helping the researcher understand the challenges these teachers faced and the opportunities that allowed for longevity. The research study revealed the teachers in this study faced challenges and difficult working conditions especially in their first year of teaching. Novice teachers in high poverty schools often faced discipline problems, isolation, and a lack of support. However, there were sources of satisfaction and opportunities that alleviated these challenges. The research study revealed several sources that created satisfaction for teachers. The love for teaching, the need to have a relationship with students, a positive relationship with colleagues and administration, time, better pre service experiences, effective induction programs and more effective recruiting were all findings from the research study that could provide opportunities and improve teacher retention in high poverty schools. However, relationships were the key finding that emerged from the lived experiences of the teachers in this study. The researcher understood that the relationships between the teacher and the student, the teacher to self, the teacher and their colleagues, and the teacher and their administration were critically important in their experiences and ultimately in their decision to stay. Teachers gained a sense of accomplishment and reward in these relationships and felt they like they were making a difference in these schools. Finally, these teachers felt a sense of loyalty to the students they served and had a sense of self determination where they saw teaching the children as a challenge and were determined not to fail. These teachers were going to teach these children and help remove the obstacles so the students could be educated. The research study gave an understanding to the issue of teacher retention in high poverty schools and the reasons teachers remain in these schools. School systems should employ time for teachers to build relationships through collaboration and communication. Districts should also implement training in the culture of high poverty schools, student discipline and foster relationship building opportunities for teachers with students and colleagues in high poverty settings.

Research Data and Supplementary Material