Abstract: This study explored the renewal processes chosen by elementary teachers to revitalize their teaching over the course of their career. With the increased intensification of the roles of elementary teachers, and the many depleting factors present in teachers' daily work, there continues to be greater likelihood that our teachers will be less dedicated to and engaged in their work. Decreases in commitment and engagement not only have an impact on the teachers' experience and livelihood, but also have a negative impact on students' schooling experience. This study was designed to further understanding of the renewal strategies elementary teachers employ to sustain their commitment when not participating in formal programs. Research questions included: From the participating teachers' perspective, what bolsters and what erodes their commitment to teaching? How do these teachers renew themselves for the profession of teaching? What do teachers think schools could do to support the teacher's renewal processes? Seven elementary teachers who have taught for ten or more years participated in this narrative inquiry. An iterative process of analysis and data collection occurred during the series of four to five active interviews conducted over eight months. Findings of the study reveal the deeply personal nature of each teacher's renewal and its connection to their goals, values, and interests. Revitalization experiences involved engaging in the teacher's craft of teaching, engaging in personal interests and relationships outside of school, and opportunities for disengaging activities. Teachers felt that schools could support renewal by promoting a culture that recognizes teachers' individual goals and interests and creates an environment that promotes learning for teachers as well as students. Conclusions discuss the role of disengaging experiences, the relationship between the Teacher Career Cycle Model and teacher renewal, the limitations of renewal techniques to combat the roots of renewal needs, and the elementary-specific elements of the findings, and advocate for schools to create cultural environments that support teachers' short-term renewal strategies and to consider long-term solutions to the problems that create teacher erosion.
Keywords: Education, Teacher renewal, Elementary teachers, Professional development