- A 2020 State of Teaching Survey by the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM found teachers continue to report a lack resources and administrative support while dedicating personal time and money into their classrooms.
- Taking work home and having to pay for additional resources or professional development leaves teachers feeling undervalued, according to the report. Teachers also don't feel seen or heard and have many concerns about competing priorities, student behaviors and a lack of resources to meet students’ needs.
- Out of the respondents, 55% ask for more support and respect from administration, parents and community members, with the number of respondents who say they feel supported by their supervisor declining since 2018.
Teachers' biggest concerns this year are classroom management, getting through curriculum and professional learning goals.
The results show 44% of teachers don’t have a prescribed curriculum and have to create their own, while 92% are using social media and educational resource websites to supplement their lesson plans. An overwhelming majority (91%) take work home due to lack of time in their work days, and an equal percentage of teachers use their own money to pay for professional development.
Teachers said they could use more administrator support and awareness around behavioral interventions for students, unrealistic teacher workloads, and the need for flexibility, more relevant and personalized PD options, and materials and resources.
Based on responses, there are several areas upon which administrators can focus. Fostering collaboration between teachers and administration to eliminate the need for DIY solutions, creating a supportive culture and increasing access to available funds for teacher professional development could be a place to start.
Administrators can foster cultures of teacher appreciation by acknowledging outstanding teaching, according to Michael Niehoff, a teacher and school leader. Teachers need autonomy while also feeling supported and appreciated. They should be treated like co-professionals and given flexibility in their schedules.
Ray Salazar, an English teacher in Chicago, says students lose when teachers spend their time creating curricula. He writes he is cautiously optimistic that Chicago Public Schools is building a curriculum, but wonders if it will be culturally relevant and emphasize real-world applications of learning. Teachers also need the freedom to be innovative, despite a pre-created curriculum.
Still, pre-made curricula save teachers valuable time. One survey shows U.S. teachers in grades 7-9 have longer work weeks than most of the teachers in 48 other countries. And out of a 46-hour work week, U.S. teachers in those grades spend 28 hours per week in the classroom with students, compared to 20 out of a 38-hour work week in other countries.
In Asian countries, for example, teachers spend less time in the classroom and more time working with other teachers, observing and researching. However, that survey also shows 90% of U.S. teachers agree or strongly agree that they are satisfied with their jobs, which is a higher percentage than those in other countries.
As highlighted in the 2020 survey, teachers often turn to digital curriculum resources like Teachers Pay Teachers. But some experts claim sites like this come up short when it comes to content quality. A curriculum expert who reviewed the pedagogy in a $14.99 “Romeo and Juliet” lesson found it did not meet Common Core standards. In fact, much of the material was considered “mediocre” or worse, earning a 0 or 1 out of a 1-3 scale.
Adding to the problem, these sites have also come under fire at times for copyright concerns.
The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM is not a nonprofit but does donate 10% of its annual profit back to classrooms. Additionally, 80% of its recourses are open-access and free for educators.