Michelle Glerum PhD Defense: 'Transitions, Tensions, and Retention Factors: The Value of Community and Support for Early Career English Educators'
Committee: Jessica Early (chair), Christina Saidy, Doris Warriner. :: ABSTRACT: This qualitative case study explores the experience of three first-year English language arts educators within a small community of practice designed to provide personal and professional support for beginning teachers. The participants engaged in a 12-week session where weekly meetings, which alternated between workshop and discussion, focused on participant experiences, sustainable teaching practices, and English language arts pedagogy. The study shares the curricular design of the community as well as the issues and ideas that were raised about teaching and the teaching life.
Data were collected over the entire 12 weeks as well as in follow-up interviews conducted within four weeks of the last meeting. Data were drawn from the following sources: (1) pre-and-post-community questionnaires, (2) audio recorded meetings, (3) researcher notes and memos, (4) follow-up interviews. Using Wenger’s (1998, 2009) theory of communities of practice as well as sustainable teaching theory (Burns et. al., 2018), this study documents the value of early career communities of practice and indicates that early-career communities are necessary in light of the emotional dimensions of teaching English language arts, the many aspects of successful teaching that are not covered in teacher preparation programs, and the need for both personal and professional support, camaraderie, and continued learning for beginning teachers.