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An exploration of urban teachers' work from an ecological perspective

by Crowell, Jeri L.

Abstract (Summary)
This study’s purpose was to explore the daily work lives of urban teachers to understand how they experienced career fit, and factors that helped them work in the environment. The ecological counseling model was used as the framework to understand the person-environment fit of five urban teachers, whose stories are revealed in this qualitative inquiry. Teachers described an urban school as challenging, with poor funding, few supplies, disadvantaged low-achieving students, and little parental or administrative support. Students from violent neighborhoods came with family issues associated with poverty: substance abuse, poor health, domestic abuse, and broken families. Urban-dwelling students are at risk because of the emotional, psychological and intellectual problems that define the plight of poverty. Initial coding created themes: sense of responsibility, personal rewards, caring, resourcefulness, flexibility, and autonomy. Teachers felt responsibility for students’ intellectual, moral and emotional development, using personal resources of flexibility, resourcefulness, and caring. Lacking support from parents or administrators, they felt autonomous, but despite challenges, teachers experienced personal rewards. Further analysis revealed three ecological principles of import: multiple contexts are considered, interactions between person and environment are particularly salient, and meaning making is the basis for how people perceive reality. Multiple contexts involved daily assessments of student interactions. Interactions between person and environment were also salient for teachers to define their life-career context. The principle of meaning making was how teachers perceived reality in relation to the urban setting, shaping their own experiences, values, attitudes, goals and purposes. This study bridged two disciplines, counseling and education, to explore the career fit of urban teachers. Data supported use of the ecological counseling model to promote understanding i of the person-environment interactions of the teachers. The metatheoretical interdisciplinary nature of the model offers possible recommendations for urban teacher support. How teachers made meaning of their careers in an urban setting highlighted how they developed coping abilities in negotiation and resolution of personal and environmental factors. Retention may be enhanced by understanding their motivations and reinforcing their personal rewards. By their own report, teachers understood urban school challenges, and still made the career choice. ii © Copyright by Jeri L. Crowell 2007 All Rights Reserved iii
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:university of cincinnati

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