Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Karen Westberg, Eleni Roulis, Candace Chou


This qualitative phenomenological research study investigated the experiences of teachers and leaders in urban charter schools and how these experiences affected teacher motivation. The term teacher motivation was used with both leaders and teachers in this study. The purpose of this study was to better understand how charter school teachers and leaders experience their work and how charter schools can address issues related to teacher and leader turnover, which has plagued many charter schools since the charter school reform movement started. I interviewed 12 teachers and six school leaders from one metropolitan region in the Midwestern United States. My research questions focused on the main factors that make concept of teacher motivation in charter schools unique, the ways leaders intentionally create conditions and respond to challenges to maintain a motivated teaching force, factors that lead to high rates of turnover in charter schools and how the maturation and development of charter schools as a reform is affecting teacher motivation in charter schools.

The findings from this study showed a high degree of diversity in charter schools and demographics as well as in educational practice. Many teachers and leaders had emotional reasons for choosing to work in charter schools that included feeling part of a smaller educational environment and wanting to be part of the unique culture of the school. Teachers and leaders also largely appreciated what they found to be less bureaucracy and more leadership opportunities in charter schools today. Many leaders and teachers also found a spirit of innovation that, while they often enjoyed their work, could also present challenges for having to continually be innovative. Teachers and leader were motivated by a sense of community, innovation, leadership support, less bureaucracy, and having a voice in the leadership of the school. One of the recommendations I have for future research is to study what makes charter schools unique today because many of the teachers’ comments about motivation seemed to be best practices no matter what type of school in which one is working.


teacher motivation, charter schools

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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