31 SES 06 B, The Role of Teachers in Multilingual Settings
Teachers' attrition and retention are complex issues representing two sides of the same coin, raising major concerns for schools and teachers educators alike (Hong, 2010; Ingersoll, 2001; Loeb, Darling-Hammond & Luczak, 2005). Despite discrepancies in the exact numbers, the literature suggests that attrition is at its highest among novice and early career teachers (Guarino, Santibanez, & Daley, 2006; Harfitt, 2015; Ingersoll & Smith, 2004), Thus, the development of teachers and their retention is an escalating international, global challenge. Teacher shortage, which may result from premature departure of teachers from the field (novice and early career teachers in particular), has also been a major concern for education systems in many countries (Guarino, et al., 2006; Ingersoll, 2001, Ingersoll & Smith, 2004).
Over the last decade, there has been a steady dropout rate of teachers in Israel, with an average of 20% in the first year of teaching and 31% within five years (Arviv-Eliashiv & Zimerman, 2015). Recent research regarding teacher shortage and turnover in Israel (Donitsa-Schmidt & Zuzovsky, 2016) points to a specific shortage of teachers in the core subjects of English as a Foreign Language (EFL), science and mathematics. This study (Donitsa-Schmidt & Zuzovsky, 2016) points to a specific "shortage of teachers in the core subjects of EFL, science and mathematics" (p. 85) and states that recently "ad hoc alternative programs for swift certification are provided" (p. 85) to address the problem.
One possible reason for the evident shortage of EFL teachers in the school system lies in the low status of the teaching profession in Israel in general, which, in turn, does not attract undergraduate students (Donitsa-Schmidt & Zuzovsky, 2016). Another potential reason could be the availability of tempting job opportunities for English teaching graduates outside of the education system, such as teaching in the private sector or working in high-tech companies. This situation has implications both for the schools in Israel, which are in perpetual need of EFL teachers, as well as for institutions of teacher education. Therefore, one of the major challenges facing education institutions and schools is how to prepare effective, qualified EFL teachers, and once they begin teaching English in schools, how to support them and prevent their attrition.
The purpose of this study was to examine the views of new EFL teachers in Israel regarding reasons for retention, attrition and their preparedness for the job. This investigation is significant because understanding EFL teachers’ particular views, experiences and challenges on the above issues may help in giving them proper support. The outcomes of this study may provide useful implications for teacher educators, policymakers, school principals and other stakeholders in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT) in Israel as well as in other contexts. The following research questions guided this study:
- What are EFL teachers' views regarding reasons for teacher retention?
- What are EFL teachers' views regarding reasons for teacher attrition?
- What are EFL teachers' views on their preparedness for teaching and their desire to stay or leave teaching?
We employed an Explanatory Sequential Mixed methods Design (Creswell, 2014) to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. First, we used an online, self-report survey designed specifically for this study using Google Forms. The survey was based on a review of empirical literature pertaining to teacher development, retention and attrition (Guarino et al., 2006; Ingersoll, & Smith, 2004), with focus on EFL teachers and models of factors associated with teacher turnover and attrition (Chapman, 1994; Donitsa-Schmidt & Zuzuvsky, 2014). It contained four closed questions: general information, reasons for retention, reasons for attrition and views on their training program: Each question contained 9 items on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1–least important to 5–most important. Factor analysis were conducted on the items. Additionally, there was an open-ended question, which allowed participants opportunity to give any further views on reasons for attrition or retention, in their own words. After undergoing a pilot study and making necessary recommended adjustments, the final version of the survey was distributed via email to 267 new English teachers, graduates from one teacher-education college in Tel Aviv. The survey was conducted during the months February-to April 2016. In the qualitative part of the study, we conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with a sample of 6 first-year English teachers. The interviews aimed to compliment and explain the quantitative data and included a battery of questions regarding preparedness for teaching, challenges, personal dilemmas, motivation, self-efficacy, and professional identity.
A total of 167 teachers responded to the on-line survey, constituting a response rate of 63%. There were 152 teachers who responded to the open-ended question regarding reasons for retention and attrition, constituting 91%. According to the participants in this study, the most important reason for teachers leaving school is poor support from management, coworkers, and staff. This is consistent with findings on retention whereby receiving strong support from management, co-workers and staff was viewed as one of the most important factors in teachers' decisions to remain in school, thus framing supports cardinal in their decision to stay or leave teaching. Essential value was also placed on classroom management issues as both a retention and attrition factor. Personal and emotional factors, such as lack of satisfaction and fulfillment from the job and feeling of ineffectiveness in the job also play an important role in teachers' decision to leave teaching. This is compatible with reasons for retention whereby joy and satisfaction from the job were viewed as important reasons for staying in teaching. Contrary to expectations, tempting job opportunities outside of the education system were not found to be important reasons for leaving teaching. Findings point at insufficient integration of EFL teacher education providers with schools, particularly with regard to the practicum component. Participants highlighted the gap between their preparedness and the reality they cope with in school. Implications include the need to integrate academic and professional learning and to re-examine the quality and impact of the practicum component. There is a need for a tighter connection between beginning EFL teachers' preparedness for teaching and their induction into the culture of teaching and school context. Improving models of EFL teacher induction or creating new ones may contribute to reducing attrition rates of promising EFL teachers and enhancing English learning in schools.
Arviv-Eliashiv, R., & Zimerman, V. (2015). Mihu hamore hanosher? [Which teachers are liable to drop out? Employment, demographic and organizational factors of teacher attrition]. Dapim, Mofet Institute 59 (pp. 175-206) [in Hebrew]. Creswell, J.W (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (4th ed.). Sage, USA. Donitsa-Schmidt, S., & Zuzovsky, R. (2016). Quantitative and qualitative teacher shortage and turnover phenomenon. International Journal of Educational Research, 77, 83-91. Guarino, M. G., Santibanez, L., & Daley, G. (2006). Teacher recruitment and retention: A review of the recent empirical literature. Review of Educational Research, 76, 173-208. Harfitt, G. J. (2015). From attrition to retention: A narrative inquiry of why beginning teachers leave and then rejoin the profession. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(1), 22-32. Hong, J. Y. (2010). Pre-service and beginning teachers’ professional identity and its relation to dropping out of the profession. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 1530-1543. Ingersoll, R. (2001). Teacher turnover and teacher shortages: An organizational analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 499-534. Ingersoll, R., & Smith, M. T. (2004). Do teacher induction and mentoring matter? National Association of Secondary School Principals, NASSP Bulletin, 88(638), 28-41. Loeb, S., Darling-Hammond, L., & Luczak, J. (2005). How teaching conditions predict teacher turnover in California schools. Peabody Journal of Education, 80, 44-70.
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