Recruitment & Retention

U.S. Schools Need More Teachers to Be ‘Ambassadors,’ Report Says

By Madeline Will — July 26, 2016 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Two national surveys released last week reported that the overall level of engagement and job satisfaction among educators is fairly low—which could affect new teacher recruitment and retention.

According to a Gallup Business Journal two-part series released last week that analyzed existing Gallup data, U.S. school districts need more “brand ambassadors,” or people who love their children’s schools and go out of their way to promote and advocate for the district.

But only 18 percent of parents are fully engaged in their child’s school—and only 20 percent of teachers who are also parents would advocate for their child’s school (which they may teach at as well—the Gallup story didn’t specify).

The numbers—which are “startling low,” according to Gallup—could be affecting districts’ ability to attract the best teachers.

This is an “enormous” missed opportunity, Gallup researcher Nate Dvorak wrote: “A crucial source for this recruiting effort is current teachers, who have friends, relatives, neighbors, or school classmates who might come to them seeking advice about the district’s climate. Engaged teachers will speak highly of the school system and are much more likely to encourage others to work there.”

Dvorak suggests a few ways that administrators can create more brand ambassadors, including defining a clear identity for the district and conducting a baseline measurement of parent engagement. Dvorak also called on district officials to do more to engage teachers, citing a study of about 4,000 K-12 teachers that found just 43 percent of teachers feel their opinions count at work.

“Districts that want to improve teacher engagement can start by: ensuring that teachers do what they do best every day, encouraging their development, [and] soliciting and taking action on feedback from teachers,” Dvorak wrote. “Districts need to create an authentic identity that teachers are proud to identify with and contribute to every day.”

Meanwhile, a separate report released last week also called on district officials to build teacher confidence to “retain a population of highly engaged and well-qualified educators in our country.”

The 2016 Educator Confidence Report, a national survey that was commissioned by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, an education publishing company, surveyed 1,047 educators—80 percent of whom were classroom teachers. The report found that a third of teachers with less than 20 years of experience are considering leaving the profession in the next five years, and that less than half of educators surveyed reported positive feelings about the state of the teaching profession.

This is in line with other recent surveys that have found teachers feeling discouraged and frustrated about their profession. Some education onlookers have worried that the grim outlook will further deepen the reported teacher shortages in some areas of the country.

Other notable findings from the report:

  • 84 percent of educators spend their own money on professional development, saying they particularly rely on PD to learn how to use technology with impact.
  • The top desire of teachers across grade and experience levels was more engagement from parents and families. School and district administrators use social media to engage families more often than teachers do, which could be because teachers prefer in-person meetings, the report suggests.
  • Teachers said they were less concerned this year about meeting the requirements of the Common Core State Standards than they were last year—from 58 percent to 47 percent this year. They were also less concerned about teacher accountability requirements, from 63 percent last year to 50 percent.

Source: Image via the 2016 Educator Confidence Report

On Teacher Engagement and Satisfaction:

Follow @madeline_will and @EdWeekTeacher on Twitter.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.