Gallup: Most teachers aren’t ‘engaged’

Only 31 percent of teachers are “engaged” in their work,  according to a new Gallup report, State of America’s Schools.

“Engaged” teachers are “involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work . . . know the scope of their jobs and constantly look for new and better ways to achieve outcomes.”

Just over half (56%) are “not engaged” — meaning they may be satisfied with their jobs, but they are not emotionally connected to their workplaces and are unlikely to devote much discretionary effort to their work.

About one in eight (13%) are “actively disengaged” — meaning they are dissatisfied with their workplaces and likely to be spreading negativity to their coworkers.

Looking at the average U.S. worker, 30 percent are engaged, Gallup estimates.

Compared to other workers, teachers are more likely to say they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day at work.

However, “teachers are dead last among the occupational groups Gallup surveyed in terms of their likelihood to say their opinions seem to count at work.” Teachers also ranked last in believing their supervisor creates an “open and trusting environment.”

Fifty-five percent of students say they’re engaged and only 17 percent are “actively disengaged,” Gallup found. However, students become less engaged as they get older. 

In a 2009 Gallup study, “a one-percentage-point increase in a school’s student engagement GrandMean was associated with a six-point increase in reading achievement and an eight-point increase in math achievement scores.”

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    This reminds me of my first Officers Efficiency Report. “You’re the best second lieutenant I’ve ever rated, except for enthusiasm.” said the battalion commander.
    If enthusiasm is defined as simulating a grand mal seizure, some people could have a problem.
    I know surveys survey what they survey. Why on earth would we give them more attention than chicken entrails?
    Be interesting to see if any two teachers could come up with less than, say, four definitions of “engaged”.

  2. GEORGE LARSON says:

    Is a teacher who loves teaching kids but despises the bureaucracy and management engaged or disengaged?

  3. I wonder what fraction of the “unengaged” teachers are working in chaotic inner-city schools where they are less a teacher than a disciplinarian and many MS-HS kids are intentional non-learmers? (no, I don’t believe many teachers can get teenagers in the latter group on track). It’s time to move mandatory schooling to age 14 or completion of 8th grade, with parent permission, and restrict HS to those who want to learn.

    • I’m glad we don’t live in a country like the one you describe. Some kids don’t learn how to learn until high school. I’m glad we’re not abandoning them.

      • There’s a difference between kids who “don’t know how to learn until HS” (why were they not taught in ES-MS? ) and kids who refuse to try and deliberately reject academics; hence the term “intentional non-learners”.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Unfortunately, we do abandon many kids in high school. We take kids who are not interested in academics and try to force academics down their throats anyway. Then, when that doesn’t work, we let them know they are failures and that they deserve to have lousy, low-paying jobs for the rest of their lives.

        We abandon the kids as they really are and attempt to make them the way we think people should be (kind of like us!). We honestly think we’re doing it “for their own good” and that we’re the good guys.

        But the strategy doesn’t work FOR THEM. When I am in a cynical mood, I think that a major effect of it is social control. “Of course, I don’t deserve as good a life as them. I’m not as educated.”

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          Roger. We can make them any way we think they should be–or possibly not–or let them be their own special snowflake selves.
          The question for their future is whether anybody’s going to pay them any money for anything. Currently, a good many are being paid for their skill in not getting caught committing honest employment.

  4. Ted Craig says:

    Wow, teachers are average workers. I’m shocked.

  5. Roger Sweeny says:

    “a one-percentage-point increase in a school’s student engagement GrandMean was associated with a six-point increase in reading achievement and an eight-point increase in math achievement scores.”

    I wish it were possible to sort out cause and effect here.

  6. Ruth Joy says:

    Still, if you’re not engaged (as defined by the researchers), you shouldn’t be in the classroom.

  7. That 13% number is troubling, for we know a ‘not engaged’ employee is a cancer on any organization. Effective organizations know that once an employee becomes ‘not engaged’, they’re lost and you have to move them out…both for your sake and theirs. Unfortunately most of our public schools operate under labor contracts where it’s just too hard to jettison a bad teacher. That affects the entire culture….one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. ‘A’ players do not want to be on the same team with ‘C’ players.

  8. Put it that way and it sounds Stalinesque. If you do not meet your engagement quotas, it’s because you’re withholding engagement, not because you’re oppressed! Unengaged teachers are the enemy of the revolution and must be punished…

  9. I’m beginning to think the Gallup organization should have surveyed teachers with an eye towards measuring a propensity to self-pity.

    Given the horrifying conditions of employment you’ve ticked off perhaps you’d like a few statues erected to commemorate your nobility? Or would you prefer that testament to nobility to take a somewhat more pecuniary form? I’m not all that clear on how saints should be compensated so feel free to educate me on the subject.