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Tool: What the new generation of teachers seeks for job satisfaction

Question: What workplace factors are associated with new teacher job satisfaction?

Purpose of this tool: This tool provides information about workplace factors that are associated with job satisfaction among teachers. Beginning teachersí attitudes towards teaching and their sense of fulfillment are not only influenced by their experiences in formal induction activities; they are also shaped by several workplace conditions over which you, as a building administrator, have direct control. These conditions include administrative leadership and support, teacher input into decision-making, student behavior, support from parents and interactions with other teachers. The purpose of this tool is to help you understand and exert influence over factors that we know are important to new teachers and their job satisfaction. It also suggests strategies for collecting data on teacher satisfaction.

Teacher job satisfaction: What the research says

Research indicates that teachers are much more likely to report that they are satisfied with their work under the following conditions when...

  • The administration is supportive and encouraging
  • Principals frequently discuss instructional practices with teachers
  • There is a great deal of cooperative effort among staff
  • Teachers participate in making important school decisions
  • Staff members are recognized for a job well done
  • Necessary materials are available
  • The level of student misbehavior in their school does not interfere with teaching
  • Student apathy is not a problem
  • Parents support teachers’ work

In research involving data from the Schools and Staffing Survey, a nationally representative survey of teachers in the U.S., Marianne Perie and David Baker found that the factors above had much more of an effect on teachersí reported levels of job satisfaction than a number of teacher and school characteristics. The teacher characteristics included teacherís gender, race, education level, and main teaching field while the school characteristics included school sector (public or private) and school size.

The 2001 Metropolitan Life Survey found that when teachers reported dissatisfaction with teaching, they often cited the following reasons for their dissatisfaction:

  • Lack of administrative support
  • Discipline problems
  • Lack of resources
  • Lack of respect
  • Too many administrative responsibilities

Question: When new teachers leave your school or district, do you know the reasons why? Review the factors listed above and check those that might be at work here. Write an action plan on how to deal with them.

Strategies for collecting data on teacher job satisfaction and labor market decisions:

  • Administer job satisfaction surveys to teachers in your school and those who leave.
  • Central office administrators, teacher union leaders and university researchers can assist in survey development and analysis.
  • Implement an action plan to address or maintain workplace conditions associated with teacher retention.
  • Grade-team leaders, department chairs, mentors, and other teacher leaders can assist in devising and implementing an action plan.

In sum, there are several workplace factors related to teacher job satisfaction that principals can potentially influence. In combination with a strong induction program, attention to these factors by principals can significantly affect beginning teachersí attitudes towards teaching and their sense of being rewarded in the profession.

Researchers at Harvardís Project on the Next Generation of Teachers have identified three types of school cultures that influence beginning teachersí learning and effectiveness. Of these three types, integrated professional cultures incorporate many of the factors listed above that are associated with higher levels of job satisfaction among new teachers

See Assessing your school's culture and its capacity for induction.

This tool also includes an exercise, the School Culture and Induction Assessment, that will help you examine the culture in your school as well as your schoolís capacity for induction.

References:

  • Johnson, S.M. & The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers. (2004). Finders and keepers: Helping new teachers survive and thrive in our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • MetLife. (2001). Key elements of quality schools: A survey of teachers, students, and principals. The Metlife Survey of the American Teacher, 2001. New York: Metlife.
  • Perie, M., & Baker, D.P. (1997). Job satisfaction among America’s teachers: Effects of workplace conditions, background characteristics, and teacher compensation. Statistical analysis report. ERIC Document 412181.

 

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