Good teachers may be calling it quits. The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher study released in March paints a grim picture of how teachers are viewing their jobs (http://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/contributions/foundation/american-teacher/MetLife-Teacher-Survey-2011.pdf ). It appears that teacher job satisfaction is at its lowest point in over two decades and sadly, a third of teachers may be leaving the profession in the next five years. The report gives another alarming statistic. The percentage of teachers who are “very satisfied” with their jobs has dropped to a mere 44 percent. Parents take heed. Students learn best from very satisfied teachers!
Five big reasons teacher morale is low:
• Extreme school budget cuts (MetLife reports that 76% of teachers surveyed nationwide indicated their district instituted big budget cuts that resulted in teachers being transferred or losing their jobs, and school resources being slashed to a minimum). Teachers must do more with less.
• Adoption of a pay for performance teacher evaluation system based on student test scores. Studies have failed to show the reliability of this data as a measure of teacher effectiveness yet districts under pressure to improve teacher performance think that this approach is the answer. Teachers feel helpless.
• Stagnant salaries. Approximately four years have passed since teachers in our district have had a pay increase. This pay issue is mirrored across the nation.
• Decline in Teacher Efficacy. Class sizes are increasing (63% of teachers reported class increases) and schools are seeing a rising number of students coming to school hungry, and in need of health and supportive services. With these challenging conditions, teachers have begun to question their effectiveness.
• Lack of a supportive, respectful work environment that encourages a blend of autonomy, collaboration and professional growth. The administrative leadership is responsible for this one.
I have two school-age children. Teachers have expressed to me how difficult their jobs have become and how exhausted they are. In my opinion, they have a right to be stressed and overwhelmed. What can we do?