The latest Metlife survey, conducted annually since 1984, shows educators under incredible stress as they cope with large budget cuts coupled with increased demands.
The whole survey is worth a read, but we've pulled out some of the most important findings.
Principals and Teachers Give Positive Ratings to the Job Teachers Are Doing
Nearly all principals (98%) give positive ratings to the classroom teachers in their school. This level is similar to the ratings provided by principals in 1986 (95%). The majority of principals (63%) say that their teachers are doing an excellent job and an additional 35% describe the job teachers are doing as pretty good.
In contrast to teachers’ ratings of their principals, the most experienced principals are most likely to rate their teachers highly. Principals with more than 10 years’ experience as a principal are more likely than those with six to 10 years’ experience or those with five years’ or less experience to rate the classroom teachers in their school as excellent (72% vs. 56% vs. 59%).
Of course corporate education reformers will continue to claim too many teachers are not performing in the classroom, despite all the available evidence.
As a consequence of the relentless teacher bashing, and budget cuts, politicians are causing serious moral problems with the workforce, as is evidenced in the next two findings
Teacher Job Satisfaction Continues to Decline
Teacher satisfaction has declined to its lowest point in 25 years and has dropped five percentage points in the past year alone, from 44% to 39% very satisfied. This marks a continuation of a substantial decline noted in the 2011 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher; teacher satisfaction has now dropped 23 percentage points since 2008.
Stress among teachers has increased since 1985
In 1985—the last time this question was asked and when job satisfaction was also low—more than one-third (36%) of teachers said they felt under great stress at least several days a week. Today, that number has increased; half (51%) of teachers feel under great stress at least several days a week. Elementary school teachers experience stress more frequently.
They are more likely than middle school or high school teachers to say they feel under great stress at least several days a week (59% vs. 44% vs. 42%). The increase since 1985 in the number of elementary school teachers who experience great stress at least several days a week is also noteworthy—59% today compared to 35% in 1985
Corporate reformers are also having negative impacts on Principals too
Most principals say that their responsibilities today have changed compared to five years ago and that the job has increased in complexity
Moreover, three-quarters (75%) of principals agree that the job of the principal has become too complex, a view shared by principals regardless of demographic characteristics such as school level, school location, the proportion of low-income or minority students, or the proportion of students performing at or above grade level in English language arts and math.
Half (48%) of principals feel under great stress several days a week or more. This finding is perhaps not surprising given the previously cited results that most principals feel their jobs are too complex, their responsibilities have changed during the past five years, and that they have a high degree of accountability with varying levels of control over decisions
The ever increasing Rube Goldberg machines being constructed by corporate education reformers is making the job of principal all but impossible. The survey notes
It is important to note that as educators begin to implement new, higher standards, many face other competing mandates related to teacher and student assessment as well as decreasing teacher morale,and reductions in budgets and other resources such as staff, professional learning opportunities, and time for collaboration.
When asked about limited resources and what would help them most in addressing the needs of diverse learners, majorities of teachers consistently say other teachers. In 2009, nine in 10 teachers agreed that other teachers contribute to their success in the classroom, including 51% who strongly agreed. Most teachers and principals also said that greater collaboration among teachers and school leaders would have a major impact on improving student achievement.
Given limited resources, teachers believed opportunities for collaborative teaching would have a major impact on their ability to address different learning needs of individual students.
Yet most teachers continued to report that their time to work with other teachers remained the same or had been reduced.
On top of these strains being faced by teachers, the strains being felt by principals is leading to teachers taking on additional leadership roles
As the job of the principal has become more complex with the need to balance instructional leadership, high-stakes accountability, and non-academic management, the survey has documented the emergence of teachers more prominently as leaders in their schools, districts and beyond. The voice of the teacher as an educator has also become a voice of leadership in education.
Teachers Are School Leaders; Many Have a Formal Leadership Role in Their School Half (51%) of teachers currently have a formal leadership role in their school, such as department chair, instructional resource, teacher mentor, or leadership team member. Teachers who have a formal leadership role are more experienced; they are more likely than other teachers to have at least six years of teaching experience (86% vs. 73%). These teacher leaders are also more likely to report that their school’s budget has decreased during the past 12 months (60% vs. 51%), perhaps reflecting a greater need among these schools to have teachers take on more responsibilities.
In the context of additional challenges for leading schools toward greater improvement, the continuing decline in teacher morale identifies itself as an urgent priority. During a time when expectations and standards are increasing for effective teaching and learning, teacher morale is yet another declining resource, one that is associated with schools with diminished budgets and other resources, fewer students meeting standards and fewer colleagues highly rated for how well they are doing their job. Teacher leadership emerges as a potential resource for translating big challenges into opportunities, served by hybrid roles for teachers as leaders and as a method for addressing professional growth and satisfaction.
It's time that politicians began to properly value and respect their most valuable asset the education system has - the educators who work in it.