- The purpose of this study was to unfold positions of migrating SBAE teachers to understand support and challenge to retain teachers in migratory contexts. Previous literature discusses problems related to teacher mobility as functions of teacher-student matching, teacher skill and effort, school environments, and advancing student learning. In an effort to focus on the teacher within their system, I conceptualized migration as a social interaction, drawing on the work of the International Symposium on Teacher Migration (Penson & Yonemura, 2012), the concept of socialization (Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Blumer, 2018; Mead, 2018), and current data discussing teacher mobility in the United States. Outlining teacher migration as a social interaction permitted the use of Positioning Theory (Davies, 2000; Harré & van Langenhove, 1999), through discourse analysis, to co-investigate the social navigations and structures in which mobile teachers operate.
Participants for this study included two former SBAE teachers and four community influencers (administrator, two co-teachers, and the FFA alumni president), in addition to a contextual interview with the state supervisor for agricultural education. These participants represented experiences with a specific school (North Plains Consolidated, NPC) as migratory context. Interview transcripts, follow-up interview transcripts, confirmed data mapping, and co-iterative construction of the conclusions comprised the data for this study.
Findings for this study find SBAE teachers positioning themselves with belonging, as overworked, as capable, and as unique. Community influencers positioned themselves as doing the best they could, seeking commitment, having high expectations for SBAE programs based on agriculture legacies, and being engaged in reciprocal investment. Together, these positions exposed conflicting requirements, willingness to persevere despite challenges, and available support if appropriately taken up. Ultimately, these compile to illuminate SBAE teachers positioning themselves as supported when they have human resources to draw on, the resources to grow their program, and validating relationships with their communities. Challenge is imposed when autonomy is infringed upon, expectations are unclear, or relationships do not extend ideal support.
The findings identify teacher migration as a phenomenon bringing several other challenges in education to light. Implications of expectations, power dynamics, and workload depict the nuance of support and challenge as relational constructs. Several implications arise for the various stakeholders in this study: SBAE teachers, administrators, co-teachers, alumni, and state staff. In order to make the exposed positions useful, a conceptual framework of support and challenge as relational constructs to identify mitigating positions concludes this study.