Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-17-2021


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Educational Studies (General Education)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Connie M. Moss

Committee Member

Amy Olson

Committee Member

Tia Wanzo

Committee Member

Alyssa Ford-Heywood


hard-to-staff, resilience, urban, teachers, relationships


The study examined the nature of hard-to-staff schools in relation to teacher resilience. The study proposes a theoretical framework that blends theories of self and collective efficacy, critical race, and resilience theories with Bronfrenbrenner’s ecological systems theory to examine personal and organizational factors that contribute to or weaken the resilience of teachers in challenging urban schools.

Two research questions guided the study: What are the personal factors that strengthen resilience in teachers in hard-to-staff schools? And, What organizational factors impact teacher resilience in hard-to-staff schools?

Participants were recruited using convenience sampling methods. School administrators were asked to identify teachers who had a track record of success with students in schools with challenging working conditions and who persisted in spite of obstacles. Three participants volunteered to respond to 16 open-ended prompts that explored personal and professional factors that might influence resilience.

Data from the participants were analyzed through the qualitative process of close reading to create a case study of each participant. Then, the data were analyzed to identify themes within and across participants’ responses.

The findings revealed that resilient teachers were able to navigate challenges and identify solutions either on their own or with the help of a support system that included colleagues, family, and friends. The findings also showed that not only did positive relationships with students and colleagues impact teachers’ resilience and but also that resilient teachers intentionally and systematically sought to build those relationships.

The study highlights the utility of a theoretical framework for understanding teacher resilience in hard-to-staff schools by revealing the functionally bonded internal and external factors that contribute to identity formation in ways that foster and strengthen resiliency in teachers in hard-to-staff schools.