Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor's Name

Kristen Wilcox

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

James P. Burns

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Ethan Kolek

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Maria Lovett

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


support, teacher retention, secondary schools, perspective, conceptualization of support, teacher attrition

Date of Defense



Teacher attrition is a problem plaguing districts across the nation. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the 4th largest school district in the nation and continues to encounter difficulty keeping teachers. This study investigates how nine secondary level teachers conceptualize support. Teachers’ years of experience range from five to thirty-five years teaching in Miami-Dade County Public schools. Early, Mid and Late Career teachers were interviewed to understand their lived experiences in the professions as it pertains to support and how they conceptualize support. This case study utilizes phenomenological methods informed by the work of Vagle (2018) and van Manen (2014, 2015) to better understand the participants’ lived experiences.

In this study I used Seidman’s three-interview structure. The spacing of each interview was three to seven days apart with each individual participant. The first interview focused on the participants’ life history. The second interview delved into the details of their present lived experiences as a teacher. The purpose of the third and final interview was to reflect on the meaning of support and their experiences with support as discussed in the previous two interviews. This model allowed me to understand every participants’ story. This study protects the anonymity of the participants and ensures they came from different schools in the district to achieve a better representation of how concepts of support may change based on level of district support the school receives.

Findings from this study indicate that the personal and professional lives of these individuals play into the perspectives they have built throughout the years. The construction of their lived experiences and reflection of these moments, along with their beliefs, assumptions, and observations provided the necessary information to understand the phenomenon more deeply. Every word people use in their story told in this process is a piece of their consciousness, which refers to the individual’s unique thoughts, memories, and feelings based on the world around them. Consciousness is “always directed toward some object” (Vagle, 2018, p.7). A persons experienced reality is always impacted by their beliefs, conclusions, assumptions and observations that encompass their consciousness (Vagle, 2018). The participants conceptualize support in three main ways:

  1. Community
  2. Collaboration
  3. Shared Leadership

Conceptualization of support is a complex issue, and attention to administrative practices can help improve retention. The findings indicate that the collective teacher experience is very similar despite demographic differences of age, gender, cultural background, and content area. There were some divergent points when looking at teachers’ years of experience and the tier level of the high school. Implications for further research in the influence of close familial relationships on teacher retention is possible because that was a common bond shared by five of the nine participants. In addition, future research on how the tier level of the school can have a bearing on ways the teachers perceive support.





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