School Climate & Safety Opinion

Teacher Engagement Data Released

By Emily Douglas-McNab — August 01, 2013 2 min read
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Today, Gallup released its latest findings around teacher engagement, based on survey data collected between January and December 2012. In the article “In U.S., Newer Teachers Most Likely to Be Engaged at Work,” Shane Lopez and Preety Sidhu discuss how years of experience affect workplace engagement. In their work, Gallup defines “engaged” employees as, “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and contribute to their organization in a positive manner.” In their explanation of the findings, summarized below, data show’s that new teachers are the most engaged in their job, and that engagement drops for teachers with more than a year of experience.

Chart adapted from Gallup blog.

Note that these findings reflect a snapshot of current teachers with varying levels of experience, rather than a longitudinal study tracking the same teachers over time. This is important because it means the data don’t address whether new teachers become less engaged over time or whether their more experienced colleagues included in the survey sample have just always been less engaged.

This pattern of decreasing engagement with years of service, Gallup finds, is present among other occupation groups as well. However, the decline for non-teaching occupations is smaller, partly because employees in these occupations tend to enter their profession with lower engagement levels than beginning teachers do.

Overall, K-12 teachers fall in fourth place for average percentage of engaged employees, under managers, executives, and officials (36 percent); physicians (34 percent); and nurses (33 percent). Teachers also have one of the lowest average percentages of “actively disengaged” employees, with 13 percent falling in this category (this is tied with managers, executives, and officials--but below physicians, with 9 percent).

According to Gallup’s 2013 “State of the American Workforce” report, 30 percent of Americans are “engaged” in their jobs while 52 percent are “not engaged” and 18 percent are “actively disengaged.”

What does this mean for K-12 talent managers? Perhaps more easily said than done, we must work to support our new staff and keep them engaged. We must also sit down and reflect with experienced staff on ways to involve them in growth and leadership opportunities. And, we must make employee engagement a priority. As Lopez and Sidhu note, “Engaged teachers not only challenge students to grow, they also encourage and engage their fellow teachers, building the foundation for great schools.”

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