This book explores the question of why some teachers stay in the classroom and others leave. The future quality of schools, the author explains, hinges on who will teach. Through interviews and surveys of teachers (both present and former) in a variety of settings - a poor, inner-city high school, an affluent suburban high school, and one in a working-class neighbourhood - this book examines the role of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors in the decision to remain in the profession. Teachers in each setting discuss training, job satisfaction, professional involvement, and workplace conditions that make teaching more than just a job. Though education is now high on the political agenda, high rates of teacher attrition have left many school districts scrambling to find qualified professionals to fill teaching posts. This situation has focused renewed attention on programmes aimed at enhancing teacher retention. If such efforts are to succeed, however, they must be based on an accurate understanding of the nature of job satisfaction and commitment in a teaching career.
The research reported in this book speaks directly to these issues, and its findings call into question many of the conventional approaches - such as merit pay and career ladders - that concentrate on external rewards. By showing how teachers themselves view their work - and how they arrive at their decisions to stay in or leave the profession - this book provides a model of a teaching career that will be useful in attracting and retaining good teachers. "Careers in the Classroom" seeks to serve as a supplemental text in teacher education courses, particularly in administration and leadership, and should be of special interest to teachers, policy-makers and those concerned about the quality of education.