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To stay or to leave: Factors shaping early childhood teachers’ turnover and retention decisions


This qualitative study sought to understand whether there were difference in how early childhood education (ECE) teachers who stayed in or left their jobs interpreted their job demands and resources. It also sought to understand factors that shaped teachers’ turnover and retention decisions. Twenty-six teachers who worked in subsidized ECE programs that blended multiple public funding sources were interviewed, 14 of whom stayed in their jobs and 12 of whom left their jobs. We found teachers’ reasons for leaving or staying were complex and took into consideration workplace and family factors. Teachers who stayed tended to share the same job frustrations as those who left, namely a misalignment between job demands and resources, but those who stayed were more willing to engage creatively in solving workplace problems. Teachers who stayed placed greater value on professional development opportunities than teachers who left, and these key job rewards factored into retention decisions. Teachers who left often felt that lacking key job resources undermined their sense of competence at being an effective teacher and viewed the psychosocial workplace climate less favorably than teachers who stayed. For many teachers, the value they placed on different job rewards was influenced by family factors. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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