2020. By Sara Kemper.

Ample research has identified and sought to understand the problem of high teacher turnover and low morale in U.S. schools. One consistent finding is that teachers’ working conditions have a pronounced impact on their wellbeing, sense of efficacy, and career decisions. This dissertation presents findings from a mixed-methods study exploring teachers’ work lives in “teacher-powered schools,” where teachers have collective decision-making authority (CDMA) to shape their schools as workplaces. Evidence from observations and interviews with 31 staff members at 3 teacher-powered schools coupled with survey responses from 342 teachers in 39 schools is used to characterize teacher-powered schools as a group and support five counter-narratives of teacher work life within them. Implications for teacher professional vitality—a holistic concept bridging teacher motivation, commitment, and retention—are discussed.

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