Teach & Thrive

Wisdom from an Urban Teacher's Career Narrative

Kristina Valtierra, Colorado College

A volume in the series: Issues in the Research, Theory, Policy, and Practice of Urban Education. Editor(s): Denise E. Armstrong, Brock University. Brenda J. McMahon, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Published 2016

Teacher burn out contributes to the epidemic of early career exit. At least half of all new K‐12 teachers leave the profession by the time they reach their fifth year of teaching. Conversely, there are urban teachers who survive burn out and thrive as career‐ long educators. This book results from an in‐depth qualitative study that explored one 40‐year veteran teacher’s career narrative, analyzing how she not only survived the burn out epidemic, but also thrived as a highly effective career‐long urban teacher.

Part 1 of this book uses a critical socio‐political lens is used to guide readers through the complexities of career thrival. Framed within the story of one new urban teacher’s typical morning, the book begins with an overview of the socio‐political forces that lead to urban teacher burn out. In spite of the obstacles, the more hopeful idea of urban teacher thrival is uncovered through narrative methodology. Part 2 is dedicated to the dynamic narrative of a veteran urban teacher career journey. This inspiring story is related to frameworks established in Part 1, as well as painting a picture of how public education has evolved over the last 40 years, and it’s impact on the lives of teachers.

Part 3 takes a deeper dive into three salient themes that permeated throughout the participant’s story. First hope springs eternal is the idea that sustaining hope supported the teacher’s career thrival. Next, the extended education family is the notion that familial‐like relationships at school nourished her longevity. The third theme, creative autonomy, reveals that by being empowered with opportunities for curriculum development and instructional decision‐making the teacher maintained her passion. This book concludes with recommendations for teachers, educational leaders and teacher educators to develop and maintain thriving teachers.

Preface. Series Editors’ Preface. PART I: SETTING THE STAGE: THE TEACHER BURN OUT/BURN IN EPIDEMIC. CHAPTER 1: Teacher Burn Out in the City. CHAPTER 2: One Teacher’s Story or the Story of Too Many? CHAPTER 3: Stress and Burn Out in the Teaching Life. CHAPTER 4: Hope, Passion and Possibility Restored by the Thriving Teacher. PART II: ALICE’S NARRATIVE OF CAREER THRIVAL IN THREE ACTS CHAPTER 5: A Narrative With the Fortitude to Break Down the Burn Out Epidemic. CHAPTER 6: Career Beginnings or “A Happy Accident!” CHAPTER 7: Middle Career Paves a Calling. CHAPTER 8: Middle Career to Retirement or “The Affirmation Era” CHAPTER 9: Renewal or What Retirement? PART III: THRIVAL AS CONTAGIOUS: BURN OUT RECOVERY AND PREVENTION. CHAPTER 10: The Teacher Thrival Mobius Strip. CHAPTER 11: Hope Springs Eternal. CHAPTER 12: The Extended Education Family. CHAPTER 13: Creative Autonomy. CHAPTER 14: Students as Spiritual Sustenance. CHAPTER 15: A Counter‐Narrative to Teacher Bashing. CHAPTER 16: Recommendations to Spread Teacher Thrival. References.