Happy teachers

“Teachers today are more satisfied, optimistic and encouraged than at any time during the last 25 years,” writes Sandy Kress in the Dallas Morning News. He cites the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher.

•In 2008, a full six years after No Child Left Behind was signed into law, the number of teachers who were “very satisfied” with teaching as a career reached an all-time high of 62 percent. This is up from 40 percent in 1984.

•Teachers are also more likely to advise a young person to pursue a career in teaching, from 45 percent in 1984 to 75 percent in 2008. This demonstrates not only career satisfaction, but also optimism for the future of the profession.

•Parents and school reformers alike will be delighted at the doubling of the number of teachers who rate schools’ academic standards as “excellent” – 53 percent today from a paltry 26 percent in 1984.

Fifty-four percent of teachers say that at least three-quarters of their students arrive able to tackle grade-level material. That’s up from 44 percent.

Teachers also were more likely to give high marks for quality teaching materials and supplies and physical facilities. They were more likely to say they have strong parental and community support.

Surprising. I guess the happy teachers are the quiet teachers.

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Comments

  1. Wow, a whole 1000 teachers were survey using a targeted sample list.

    I would suggest checking out the comments from teachers on the original article.

    Sandy Kress is a highly paid whore for Pearson and several other companies that have made huge bucks since the NCLB “reforms” were introduced. I personally wouldn’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth.

  2. Really, hmmmm… Nobody asked me these questions.

  3. “Satisfied, optimistic, and encouraged?”

    I’ll admit it – that describes me and my position.

    I love my job and my district, as well as the staff development that is offered, the reforms and improvements that are happening, and the continued pursuit of excellence in my work environment.

    Granted, I work in a very successful and well-supported school. I also predominantly teach honors classes. But I do love my job, and I’m very happy with my position. That describes most of the people I work with these days.

  4. Was this an average of teachers across K-12?

    In my experience,

    as “Grade” –> K, teachers are generally happier; and
    as “Grade” –> 12, teachers are generally more miserable (unless it’s an Honors or AP/IB class).

    with the one exception of

    if “Grade” = 8, teachers consider themselves in Hell. 😛

  5. [email protected] Savage, I thought Hell was Grades 6 – 8!

  6. Were these teachers in a large urban school district teaching below grade level students in a high poverty situation?

    Of course not few teachers last in that situation before transferring or leaving the profession.

    Another Edu-Fluff piece promoting the brilliance of the current enlightened leadership in Education.

    Take a trip to a Reservation or other high poverty situation and see how teaching really is.

    In Seattle things are below the satisfaction index coming from wherever this “lala” land survey was taken.

    For Math … the pathetic materials in use k-8 in most districts frustrate the k-8 teachers and send socially promoted students in to Math courses that must be watered down so that some can pass. Welcome to the abyss mathematics in American high schools.

  7. Surprising. I guess the happy teachers are the quiet teachers.

    So what explains the high turn over rate among new teachers? What percentage teach 5 years or less before leaving teaching?
    The MetLife satisfaction claim seems not to jive with reality.

  8. Dan,

    The accepted figure is 50% of teachers leave in the first 5 years.

  9. The high turnover rate is because, for the hard work teachers do, they’re paid horribly, blamed for *everything* by both their bosses (administrators) and their customers (parents), and their *product* is something that’s almost impossible to accurately measure (creating well-adjusted, well-learned, American citizens with a classical education).

    Sounds like a recipe for pain and suffering to me.

  10. Lightly Seasoned says:

    I’m with Mazenko: I like my job. I think many things need to be changed in education, but I enjoy what I do.

    I also work in a well supported public school in a stable community and largely teach Advanced Placement (but I also teach remedial/sped stuff — our department philosophy is everyone teaches top/electives — depending on degrees — and bottom).

  11. Roger Sweeny says:

    Fifty-four percent of teachers say that at least three-quarters of their students arrive able to tackle grade-level material.

    Am I supposed to consider that a good thing? If you have even one student who is not “able to tackle grade-level material,” you have two realistic choices: slow down and dumb down the course (cheating the students who are ready), or teach to those who are ready and “leave behind” those who aren’t. Both choices are terrible.

    There are alternatives that exceptional teachers can sometimes make work: create a number of classrooms within the classroom where students with different levels of preparation do different material, or enlist the better students as teaching assistants for the worse. For most mortals, however, these are not realistic options.

  12. Lightly Seasoned says:

    Roger, differentiation is challenging, but not the stuff of super-heros if the spread isn’t too great. I do it, and I’m no Hollywood Heroine.

  13. “Roger, differentiation is challenging, but not the stuff of super-heros if the spread isn’t too great”

    But that is the crux of the matter. When the spread gets too high, in my limited, anecdotal experience, differentiation means ignoring the high kids.

    “or enlist the better students as teaching assistants for the worse.”

    This is not a good idea for the high OR low student. For the record, my kid is in school to learn. If she is working as a teacher, she needs to be paid double the teacher’s rate and needs to have an equivalent amount of time devoted to teaching HER. And she needs to be able to refuse any time she feels like it.

    And, what parent in their right mind would want a high kid teaching their low kid. Um, Ms. Parent, our trained professionals couldn’t teach your child so we can going to have a ten year old try. You’re ok with that right?

  14. Roger Sweeny says:

    … differentiation is challenging, but not the stuff of super-heros if the spread isn’t too great.

    I suspect we all agree with the general sentiment but disagree about what constitutes “too great.” Last year I had a significant number of ninth graders who read and wrote and did math on an elementary school level. Had they been mature, they would have taken advantage of all my offers to help them get up to speed. But, sh*t man, they were 15. Instead, they acted like, “this isn’t important” and failed for the year, making a certain amount of unpleasantness along the way.

    The general middle school philosophy is “three years and out.” Then everyone goes in the same class and the teacher is told to differentiate as needed.

    It is interesting that the American educational system tries to avoid tracking 6-12 and then super-tracks afterwards.