It is important that we as educators become advocates for our profession. We need to arm ourselves with the facts, with why we should be proud of what we do, and how well we do it. With that in mind, here is a list of ten interesting facts that teachers should be proud of. Read them for yourself…and then share them with everyone you know!
Where Do These Facts Come From?
Since 2009, Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been publishing Primary Sources. It is a survey taken by thousands of American teachers on issues central to public education in the country today. In 2012, 10,000 public school teachers participated in the survey that was used to create Primary Sources 2012: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession.
Teachers aren’t passing the buck.
99% of the teachers surveyed say that “effective and engaged” teachers are absolutely essential or very important to ensuring student academic achievement.
Teachers are working just as much as everyone else.
The report calculated all the hours teachers spent working during school hours, working on school grounds before or after required school hours, time spent working outside of school, and on extracurricular activities like coaching or clubs. The data demonstrated that teachers on average are working 10 hours and 40 minutes a day. That’s a 53-hour workweek!
Teachers said that tenure should not protect ineffective teachers.
Nearly 9 out of 10 teachers surveyed for the report want tenure to be an accurate reflection of teacher effectiveness. 92% of the 10,000 teachers surveyed said that tenure should not protect ineffective teachers. Finally, 80% of the teachers surveyed said that their tenure should be reevaluated at various intervals throughout their careers to make sure they were maintaining high standards.
Teachers aren’t hanging out gossiping in the teacher’s lounge.
During an average school day, teachers are spending:
- An average of almost five hours on instruction (in class and providing tutoring or extra academic support)
- Approximately 36 minutes on student supervision and discipline
- 45 minutes planning, preparing, or collaborating with colleagues
- 36 minutes grading, documenting, and analyzing student work
- Almost 15 minutes communicating with parents via email, phone, or face-to-face meetings
That left the surveyed teachers with a whopping 23 minutes for lunch and personal time!
Teachers aren’t opposed to standardized testing.
Teachers just think there are better ways to assess student learning. Overwhelmingly, teachers place classroom performance, including class assignments, formative assessments, and class participation, well ahead of standardized tests and other formal assessment tools. Teachers recognize the importance of mastering skills and concepts, not multiple-choice exams.
Teachers worry about basing so much on tests that students don’t take all that seriously.
Teachers indicated that students seem to “burn-out” on standardized testing as they move from elementary to middle to high school.
51% of elementary school teachers reported that students take these crucial tests seriously and perform to the best of their ability. In middle school, that percentage falls to 43%, and by high school, only 36% of teachers surveyed felt that their students took the assessments seriously.
Teachers aren’t afraid of evaluations.
94% of surveyed teachers want an annual formalized self-evaluation. 81% would like annual peer reviews of their teaching. Two in three teachers say that assessment of their content-area knowledge should occur annually, but only a quarter of teachers work in a school where this happens.
Interestingly, the majority of the teachers surveyed (approximately 80%) not only want their administrators and fellow teachers to evaluate and provide feedback on how they are doing, but are interested in receiving evaluations from parents and students as well.
In other words, we want evaluations of our work to happen frequently, and we’d love to receive feedback from a variety of sources.
Teachers believe that our teaching skills will speak for themselves.
By huge margins, the 10,000 surveyed teachers stated that student growth over the course of a school year was the indicator they felt should play the largest role in evaluating and/or measuring their performance. 85% of teachers stated this should contribute a “great deal or a moderate amount.” The next closest option was “Principal observation and review,” which only received 29%.
Teachers see our students coming to us with more challenges than before.
62% of the surveyed teachers reported seeing an increase in students whose behavioral problems interfered with teaching since they began teaching at their current school. 56% saw an increase in the number of their students who are living in poverty, and 49% have seen more students arriving at school hungry. 50% of educators have seen an increase in English Language Learners.
Teachers aren’t in this profession for the money.
When asked for the five most important factors for retaining good teachers:
- 97% listed supportive leadership as the most important factor
- 93% listed more family involvement in students’ education
- 91% listed more help for students who have behavioral or other problems that interfere with learning
- 90% listed access to high-quality curriculum and teaching resources
- 89% listed time for teachers to collaborate
Where did higher salaries fall? 11th. Out of 15 factors, the 10,000 teachers surveyed put more money at the bottom of the list.
These are just a few important points from this report, so I hope you will take the time to read through it completely. It’s essential for us, as educators, to stay informed and to be prepared to provide the facts when education is being discussed.
Classroom teachers work hard, and we want to be the best we can possibly be at our jobs. We want to be evaluated frequently, and we want bad teachers to be shown the door. We do this because we love working with students and inspiring in them a love of learning that will hopefully last a lifetime. Make sure that the people you talk to about education know this.