According to the American Teacher’s annual MetLife survey, published last month, 82 percent of American teachers are fairly satisfied or very satisfied with their careers, but teacher dissatisfaction is the highest it has been in 25 years.
From surveys of 1,000 K-12 teachers and 500 school principals, the report concluded that school principals’ satisfaction has fallen by nine percentage points and that of teachers by 23 percentage points since 2008, a significant increase since the last measurement in 1985.
This year’s School Leadership Challenges survey also asked teachers and principals about their greatest challenges, including budget issues, community engagement, the common core and professional development.
“Among the responsibilities that school leaders face are those that teachers and principals find most difficult to come from outside the school doors,” they found.
The report focused on eight key findings:
The school management assumes responsibility for the operation of their schools. Nine in ten school principals (89 percent) said that ultimately a school principal should be held responsible for everything that happens to children in a school. Teachers also blamed the principals for everything (74 percent) more than a quarter of a century ago.
The job of a school principal is becoming more complex and stressful. The school management reported a higher level of stress and a higher complexity of the work than five years ago. 75 percent of school principals felt the work had become too complex, and half said they were under a lot of stress several days a week or longer. Although most school principals reported having a great deal of control over teacher recruitment and decisions about teachers’ timetables, only about four in 10 principals said they had a lot of control over curriculum and teaching, as well as teacher recall decisions would have. The school principals said they had the least control over school finances.
The teachers take the lead in the schools thinking that the school administrators are doing a good job. Although only about one in ten teachers said they wanted to become headmasters, half were interested in hybrid part-time teaching combined with other roles in their school or district. The survey found that half of the teachers have already taken on formal leadership roles such as department head, teacher, teacher mentor or member of the management team. These teachers were more likely than others to believe that an effective school principal should be able to develop strong teaching capacities in a school, share leadership with teachers and other staff, and evaluate teachers through multiple measures. 85 percent of the teachers rated the work of their school principal as very good or fairly good.
The greatest challenges leaders face are beyond the skills of schools alone. More than half of teachers and principals said their school’s budget had decreased in the past 12 months. 86 percent of teachers and 78 percent of school principals said it was a challenge or a major challenge for school principals to manage budgets and resources to meet school needs. More than seven in ten teachers identified it as a challenge or a major challenge for their school leaders to address the individual needs of different learners and to involve parents and the community in improving education for students.
School principals and teachers have similar views on academic challenges, but differ somewhat in their priorities for leadership. Although principals and teachers generally gave each other good marks, they disagreed somewhat on the skills and experience required to be a headmaster. While principals were interested in using student performance metrics to improve teaching, teachers said the most important thing for a principal is to have teaching experience.
Teacher satisfaction continues to decline. According to the survey, teacher satisfaction has fallen by 23 percentage points since 2008. Half of teachers said they felt under great stress several days a week – a 15 percent increase since 1985. Less satisfied teachers were more likely to attend schools whose overall budgets had declined in the past 12 months and when the sustained an adequate supply of effective teaching