- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's fourth annual Educator Confidence Report surveyed over 1,200 K-12 teachers and administrators on top issues impacting their jobs, finding that optimism about the profession has risen to 53%, up 25% from the first report issued in 2015.
- The survey is part of a collaboration with YouGov, a market research and data analytics firm, and it also finds positive sentiment among 55% of respondents regarding teacher collaboration around student learning, 46% toward shifts in standards toward critical thinking, and 45% over the use of data to inform pedagogical approaches.
- Other interesting findings include 96% of respondents reporting they've seen positive benefits from ed tech, though 52% say they need more time to better integrate digital content into their instructional practices, 69% are concerned about salaries, 42% say school safety issues haven't been addressed adequately, and 94% see meaningful connections with students as the top factor impacting learning.
While it's certainly a good sign that educators' feelings of optimism toward their profession are on the rise, it's important not to lose sight of the issues continuing to concern them. School safety is particularly notable, given the frequency with which school shootings now occur. ABC 15 in Arizona reports that, as of Oct. 4, the U.S. had 65 shootings on school campuses in 2018, matching the total for 2017. And while some have called for solutions that involve hardening schools and arming teachers, the fact remains that many educators don't feel comfortable about doing that, and too many security measures can leave a school feeling more like a prison than a warm, welcoming environment conducive to learning.
That's not to mention that these solutions approach the problem as an inevitability rather than aiming to prevent it from happening in the first place. While firearm safety policy is unlikely to become a top priority for legislators in the foreseeable future, there are still steps administrators can take. Efforts to build a stronger school culture and offer more mental health services, for example, can help.
On the school culture front, social-emotional learning has proven to be a critical tool. And it's all the more necessary alongside the rise in classroom technology, as well, given the need to stem cyberbullying and promote positive interactions in both the physical and digital worlds.
As the report data shows, however, educators feel they need more prep time to maximize the benefits they're already seeing from ed tech. Administrators can address this by shifting the focus of professional development opportunities and also making it easier for educators to pursue specific PD tracks that are most pertinent to their needs.
Along those lines, the continuing growth of teacher agency and more bottom-up influence in decisions are likely to continue boosting optimism in the profession — as are this year's victories on salaries and benefits in many states. But keeping that momentum going will require administrators to continue putting the pressure on policymakers and working with advocacy groups to address these concerns.