What role does professional satisfaction play in the effectiveness of a classroom?

I think that most people would agree that people who feel professionally satisfied are more effective and happier teachers. I am sure that every one of us can name at least one teacher who is not happy and seems to have a “bad attitude” about teaching, students, administration or the school system in general. As Burgess (2012) wrote, “Our profession has a notoriously high burnout rate. Unless you find something big to care about, you won’t make it. Seeking greatness, on the other hand, is a journey that can ignite, stoke, and continuously fuel a raging inferno.” I believe that the teachers who are unhappy didn’t start out teaching with a bad attitude. I do not want to become one of “those” teachers and I am determined not to be one. I can also name teachers who have been teaching for many years and still have that spark, you know, that feeling that what they are doing is making a difference despite whatever obstacles are put in their path. The teachers who every one wants their child placed in their classroom. The teachers who you know are “great”.

The question is… are the teachers who are unsatisfied less effective in the classroom? I would assume so based on what I’ve heard from dissatisfied teachers, which is mainly that they do not care anymore. For me it is pretty simple, it is hard to be effective if you don’t care about being effective. I found an article that stated, “A recent research paper from The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education examines how working conditions predict teachers’ job satisfaction and career plans. The study found that working conditions were the most important factor in teacher satisfaction. The study found that the three most important elements for teacher satisfaction are 1. Collegial relationships, or the extent to which teachers report having productive working relationships with their colleagues; 2. The principal’s leadership, or the extent to which teachers report that their school leaders are supportive and create school environments conducive to learning; and 3. School culture, or the extent to which school environments are characterized by mutual trust, respect, openness, and commitment to student achievement” (Armstrong, 2012). Working conditions do play an important part in teacher satisfaction. It is hard to feel satisfied when you don’t feel heard or valued because it demoralizes you. I can see where it would be very difficult for the teachers with the “bad attitudes” to turn it around if they constantly feel like that what they say and how they feel is not important. Further, Metlife conducted a Survey of the American Teacher each year from 1984 through 2012. An article by the National Education Association (2013) stated, “Teacher job satisfaction has plummeted to its lowest level in 25 years, from 62 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2012 — a total of 23 points, according to the annual Metlife Survey of the American Teacher, released today. Teachers reporting low levels of job satisfaction were more likely to be working in schools with shrinking budgets, few professional development opportunities, and little time allotted for teacher collaboration.” I know that our school district budget has been cut significantly. We don’t have the funds that we had a few years ago and from what I heard there weren’t enough funds then either. I may not have a job next year, but I try not to focus or worry about that possibility. Instead, I try to focus on the “now” and my students.

References

Armstrong, A. (2012, May). The Leading Teacher: Build higher levels of job satisfaction. Retrieved September 10, 2015, from Learning Forward: http://learningforward.org/docs/leading-teacher/may12_lead.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Burgess, D. (2012). Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator. San Diego: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

National Education Association. (2013, February 21). NEA president says MetLife Survey of the American Teacher results should be a wake-up call. Retrieved September 11, 2015, from National Education Association: http://www.nea.org/home/54576.htm

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10 thoughts on “What role does professional satisfaction play in the effectiveness of a classroom?

  1. Cherie- I know I agree with that that people who are professionally satisfied are more effective and happier teachers. That is so true that it is hard to be effective when you don’t want to be effective anymore. I know I agree with that study because those are important to me as well. I need to be able to talk to my co-workers, principal, and be in a building where I feel that people care not only about me but the students and want to make a difference. Thanks for sharing that!

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  2. Interesting research. I like how you looked into the effect satisfaction has on effectiveness. To be honest there are days I ask myself “Can I really do this for the next 15 years?” I love the kids and teaching but some of the other stuff isn’t so fun. Keeping my focus on the kids helps me to rise above the not so fun parts of being a teacher.

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    • I worry about getting burned out too. I think that the students are what makes it worthwhile. I also look at our principal and think about all she has to do to keep our school running and I I know it is not a job for me. I like being with the students. I just don’t see that as a road I’ll ever want to go down.

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  3. I would agree with those 3 important teaching factors: colleagues, administration, and school culture. I have worked in situations where one or more of those factors were negative and it wasn’t good for me as an educator or my students.

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    • I found those three factors to be key. In theory, it shouldn’t be difficult. However, when you have been through a situation where there was negativity, it makes you appreciate the positive people around you even more.

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  4. I haven’t run into many teachers that have burned out, but I have run in to a lot of bad attitude to teaching. Where they aren’t trying to be great and they complain about everything and everyone. Maybe this is a form of burnout. I feel sad for them and their students also.

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    • I think that the teachers that complain are burned out. I also feel sad for them. I am sure that they didn’t start out being negative and it is sad that things they have had to deal with during their teaching career has had such a negative effect on them.

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  5. When you stated that we need to find something big to care about since our profession has such a high turn over rate I do believe the majority of teachers see that students as that something big! We truly care for our students and see them as our own. Even the difficult ones, we find a place in our hearts for those students because of something in our lives, whether they remind us of someone else we know or we can relate to the child, or just the fact that we realize they are someone’s child (as a parent I know how that parent absolutely loves their child, I can relate).

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    • I agree that the majority of teachers see their students as the main reason they are teachers. However, for many that is not enough or there would not be so much unhappy and burned out teachers. I wish I had an answer to help those great teachers who are burned out. There is too much of it and it shouldn’t have to be that way. That said, I agree with you. I show up every day for my students. I love being around them. As much as I can, I try to close my door and tune out the outside things so I can just focus on my students. I have actually found that I have a stronger bond with my more difficult students because I think about them more, especially when I am not in school.

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