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Teachers are Disheartened When they Work in Tough Schools or for Bad Principals

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Lead from the Start: Teachers are Disheartened When they Work in Tough Schools or for Bad Principals

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teachers are Disheartened When they Work in Tough Schools or for Bad Principals

Joanne Jacobs just covered Teaching for a Living, a Public Agenda and Learning Point Associates study.

Jacobs wrote

"Most of the disheartened teach in low-income schools. They’re frustrated with unsupportive administrators, disorder in the classroom and testing. Contented teachers typically teach in middle-income or affluent areas where they say their schools are “orderly, safe, and respectful” and their administrators are satisfactory. Idealists are younger and often teach in elementary schools."

We expect miracles in hard to staff schools but don’t make choices that even come close to making miracles a reality. Good teachers won’t work for bad principals and lots of times the bad principals are only bad in high needs schools. They would be fine in a middle income school, just like most teachers. Teachers and principals are being pushed into the same boat more and more by pundits and the press. Maybe this is a good thing. I don’t think these statistics are particularly enlightening. Check out this data from the society for human resource management.

Research indicates that employees who are satisfied
with their jobs are more likely to stay with their employers.
According to this survey, 86% of employees indicated overall satisfaction with their current position, with 41% of employees reporting they were very satisfied. ((((Sounds like the teacher data)))))
What’s more, majority of employees (58%)reported that the current economic climate has not made any difference in their level of satisfaction—and this is good news for employers, especially during the economically challenging time.

Why would we expect teachers to be any more satisfied than any other profession?

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At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beth here:
I agree with you, Jon, why should teachers be any more satisfied than others? What bothers me is that teachers in tough schools seem to be so much more dissatisfied. I think this is where we need to turn our attention. I think we would do better to offer incentives to those willing to teach in tough schools. Perhaps this would relieve some of the stress they are under by providing some relief financially. Perhaps it would encourage them to stay. I don't believe this is backed up by research. What do you think it would take to help these teachers?

At 2:08 PM, Blogger kerkatrob said...

I would like to add that I think you have a really good point about the building principal. If there is not a good instructional leader in the building, than the good teachers won't remain. Many times, divisions take the very best principals and move them into other positions. Unfortunately, this wrecks havoc on the high need school. Consistency in the leadership of a school can make a huge difference!

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

The administration definately sets the tone of the building. As my mom always said, "If mom (or dad) aren't happy...then no one is happy." Same thing for an administrator.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger j m holland said...

Beth I disagree with you. Although incentives would sweeten the deal money will never be enough. Take the turn around principal program. Turn around principals get bonuses based on performance but also more latitude to make decisions and more resources. What if teachers in tough schools had the same opportunities that turn around principals have? If all teachers were made to reapply in tough schools but given the resources and flexibility they needed then you have a formula or attracting top notch teachers.

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Susan said...

The first thing that comes to mind is a friend who left teaching after a disheartening experience with poor administration. We are trying to attract and retain teachers, especially in the hard to staff schools, yet we are allowing quality new teachers to leave the profession because they are not satisfied. What would it take to make sure that the quality administrators are in these hard to staff schools?

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teacher satisfaction in difficult schools would improve if the teachers were taught the tools they need to be successful with the population they need to teach. We are continually putting middle class teachers in lower class situations and expecting them to adjust and understand their students. It is not a natural fit. We need to spend time educating our teachers if we expect them to stick in difficult situations.


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