The State of Teaching: Communication, community, and commitments
As teacher enthusiasm and optimism continue to decline nationwide, researchers collected data from teachers to understand more about how they are feeling about their jobs and the future of their careers.
The findings from the report Educator Perspectives on the State of the Teaching Profession, 2022 paint a snapshot of current teacher sentiment as well as a glimpse into teachers’ perceptions five to ten years from now.
For over a decade there have been reports of declining teacher satisfaction. 42% of teachers in this newest data set are satisfied with their job. While that is good news, we must dig deeper and look at the other 48% to find ways to keep the profession alive.
The data from this newest report suggests that 30% of teachers don’t see themselves in education five years from now, and unfortunately only 10% of teachers would strongly recommend the profession to a young person.
While much has changed in education, the one thing that has remained consistent over time is parents’ need to know that their kids are being well educated. In the past few years there has been a shift in how parents voice concerns and how their expectations are (and are not) level-set by policy makers, districts, school leaders, and teachers.
Couple volatile public rhetoric with misunderstandings of how initiatives (like equity, inclusion, and social emotional skills) directly tie to student achievement with lacking pay and school funding and there seems to be a perfect storm brewing.
A storm that could dramatically impact the future of teaching and the availability of schools we count on.
While teachers by and large feel supported and respect by peers, students, and administrators they do not see the same respect and support from parents, communities at large, or society in general. While most educators see themselves making a difference in the lives of the students they serve, it is near impossible for them to ignore the public degradation of their role in the lives of our children.
Only 22% of respondents in this latest study felt teaching was a respected profession.
Educators across the nation reported that test scores are not serving as a proper measurement of student learning. For example, as noted in the report, educators consistently pointed out that students who score high on standardized tests are not necessarily creative thinkers, and students who score low on these tests can often time be highly intelligent. Insights from teachers that are included in the report make it clear that policies of accountable often hinder them from ensuring that students are learning, engaged, and making progress towards mastering critical and necessary skills.
More teachers are leaving the profession and fewer teachers are entering the profession. The long-term health of their classrooms and public education overall is top of mind. The big question is this, what will become of public education and how will be find the humans needed to facilitate this thing we call school if things keep spiraling into a bottomless pit of negativity?
Even though the evidence is clear on what supports academic achievement, engagement, and the creation of lifelong learners the report highlights how that evidence is often ignored in place of misinformation. Our districts and schools must get real about parent education, pro-active communication, and communicating clearly on vision and goals for teaching and learning.
Parent education and communicating about what learning looks like is no longer something that can be ignored.
Helping our schools improve retention of talented teachers is a major challenge that no community is immune to. If nothing else this report presents a call to action to our communities to do more than send presents on holidays, acknowledge teacher appreciation days, and show up at conferences.
A lot of families count on schools as they head to work during the day, if we (as community members) do not become the caretakers of our schools we may be faced with very real consequences.
Making sure that our schools are always improving, that our teachers have opportunities to continuously learn and push their practice forward, and that our kids are being engaged in learning that matters is a community effort.
While there is no roadmap to build respect for a profession, there are innovative teachers, as well as school and district leaders who are sharing the stories of learning to build community support.
If you aren’t one of those innovators think about what you can do to level set the conversation. And remember, if you aren’t leading the conversation, I can guarantee that someone else will. Do some dreaming about what is possible, and how you can be proactive in communicating your commitments.
The profession just might depend on it.
Jody is an advocate for children and education. You can keep up with her work at jodybritten.com