Knowing What to Do: School Focus, Teacher Morale, and Teacher Turnover
Bovender, William Perry
Miller, Matthew J
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This study explored how schools’ focus – the collective perception among teachers of clarity and consistency regarding school goals, expectations, and priorities – related to schoolwide morale and school turnover rates. I examined the hypothesis that focus attenuates the deleterious effects of student misconduct on teacher morale and the contributory role of student misconduct leading to teacher turnover. In addition, I examined climate strength regarding perceptions school focus as an indicator of focus itself, as well a potential moderating effect of climate strength on the magnitude of school focus-school morale and school focus-turnover relationships. Data from a national sample of middle and high schools (N schools = 348, N teachers = 11,376) were analyzed using school-level multiple regression models. Schools with higher focus had significantly higher morale, independent of related perceptions of administrative leadership. No significant relationship was found between school focus and school turnover rates. The hypothesized moderating effect of focus on student misconduct and morale was not supported, though there was a significant indication that focus attenuated the positive relationship between student misconduct and turnover. Climate strength of school focus ratings significantly correlated with focus scores, but did not moderate relationships between focus and predicted outcomes. Findings suggest that school-level focus does represent a characteristic of schools that has a meaningful positive relationship with teacher morale but do not necessarily clarify how that relationship manifests in schools or if that relationship presents an avenue for intervention.