Theses Doctoral

Holding Onto Millennial Teachers: Learning From Aspiring Leaders’ Experiences About Why They Stay

Lewis Levin, Kameron

This qualitative case study explores with 15 millennial educators, the factors that influenced their decision to stay and progress as leaders within the context of a high-attrition environment. The following assumptions held to be true: (1) the generation-specific retention needs of Millennials are applicable to educators across generations.; (2) high-quality professional development is a key factor in retaining teachers; (3) to provide high-quality support for teachers, schools must carefully craft an effective holding environment that is differentiated developmentally.

The site for the study was a high-poverty urban charter network in the Northeastern United States that struggled to retain teachers. The primary sources of data were interviews with 15 millennial teacher leaders, a focus group of five principals, and a document analysis.

The findings were analyzed through the four lenses presented in the conceptual framework: motivation for staying, how they learn, what they learn, and reactions to the pandemic. Each of these lenses directly aligned to the study’s four research questions. The analysis served to code the disaggregated data per these four lenses and the synthesis served to reveal teacher perceptions falling into three categories that were then used to further interpret the analysis.

The major findings were: (1) A strong majority of participants indicated they were motivated to stay in a high attrition environment because they liked their colleagues; while an equal number cited the positive school culture as a contributing factor to their retention. (2) A slight majority of participants indicated that the Covid-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to be innovative. (3) A majority of participants indicated a desire to develop their capacity for learning and leading. (4) A strong majority of participants described they learned largely in informal ways by dialoguing with others and through observation.

The principal recommendation from this study is that in order to retain teachers in a high attrition environment, there must be a positive school culture. Schools that want to retain employees need to 1) provide learning opportunities and support the development of leadership skills and 2) support and provide the resources for informal adult learning to maintain this culture.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Volpe, Marie
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2021