The 2011 version of the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher (28th Annual) shows that only 44% of the teachers surveyed are ‘very satisfied with their jobs’, down from 59% in 2009. The article reviews possible factors behind that drop and suggests areas of concern to anyone paying attention to the state of public education.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers suggests that the study is a “wake-up call from teachers. They don’t like what’s going on with budget cuts, they don’t like what’s going on with test fixation, [and] with the lack of support for them to do their jobs. And we’re seeing this cut across all age groups and all generations”. Regis Shields, director of Education Resource Strategies in Watertown, Mass. commented “that (the study) really requires us to rethink the teaching profession if that many people are unhappy and don’t think they can have any impact,” she said.
A particularly disturbing finding in the report is the one showing that 43 percent of teachers are pessimistic that the level of student achievement will increase in the next five years. Dana Markow, Vice President of Youth & Education Research for Harris Interactive noted that the finding on pessimism about student achievement is particularly significant, because “people’s perceptions of how things are have actual implications in the classroom. It’s the Pygmalion Effect—teachers with high expectations, there’s evidence their students perform better.”
As was noted in the METLife Survey, in a world defined by rapid change, teachers, second only to families, “may have the greatest influence on young lives and aspirations. Our society depends on teachers, expects much from them, and has a responsibility to support their important work. ”
In past surveys, teachers have expressed enthusiasm for their work, identified challenges and potential solutions in meeting the needs of each and every student, and emphasized the value of collaboration with their colleagues to improve student performance. This year’s survey looked at two significant factors outside of the school that have great influence on student lives and the classroom: parents and the economy. The good news is that parent and community engagement with schools has increased, and there are constructive practices to be shared. The commitment must be to continue finding ways to support the enthusiastic and daily engagement of our nation’s teachers on behalf of our children.