A devil’s bargain: teachers’ decision to transfer and moral injury

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This qualitative study explores the ethical dilemmas felt by teachers as they transferred from hard-to-staff to easy-to-staff schools within a large urban school district. According to these teachers’ accounts, many were motivated by a notion of craft conscience and felt a professional responsibility to leave schools where they were prevented from successfully practicing good teaching. At the same time, these teachers felt an obligation to the students they were leaving. The study concludes that such dilemmas result in moral injury to teachers as they find themselves in positions in which they are forced to choose among competing ethical claims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-129
Number of pages12
JournalTeachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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