The Teaching Life–Commitments and Positions

In early April, MetLife released the results of a big national survey of teachers designed that explores “teacher’s (sic) opinions and brings them to the attention of the American public and policymakers.”

You can get to the whole thing using this link right here. I’ve only read through the first part, which was pretty amazing in particular for the widespread belief in and commitment to collaboration. I think it was Lisa Delpit (an amazing education writer), but I could be wrong about that reference, who once (astutely, in my opinion) compared teachers in their classrooms to two-year-olds engaged in parallel play–only feet apart from each other, yet consistently and entirely oblivious to what is going on just feet away from themselves. It seems that our colleagues at the lower levels of schooling, despite being equally or similarly swamped in terms of load and student need (ever meet a teacher who wasn’t overwhelmed?), manage to carve out some time to get together to talk about students and student success, something that has proven tremendously challenging at HW.

Some interesting findings from that first section:

  • Two-thirds of teachers (67%) and three-quarters of principals (78%) think that greater collaboration among teachers and school leaders would have a major impact on improving student achievement.
  • On average, teachers spend 2.7 hours per week in structured collaboration with other teachers and school leaders, with 24% of teachers spending more than 3 hours per week.
  • The most frequent type of collaborative activities are teachers meeting in teams to learn what is necessary to help their students achieve at higher levels; school leaders sharing responsibility with teachers to achieve school goals; and beginning teachers working with more experienced teachers. A majority of teachers and principals report that these activities occur frequently at their school.
  • The least frequent type of collaborative activity is teachers observing each other in the classroom and providing feedback. Less than one-third of teachers or principals report that this frequently occurs at their school.

I mean, do you know anyone who spends 2 and half hours per week in structured collaboration (let’s say a planning meeting) with a colleague talking about anything, much less “what is necessary to help their students achieve at higher levels?”

Talk about silos…

One thought on “The Teaching Life–Commitments and Positions

  1. Shootin’ from the hip, I wonder…
    What’s MetLife doin’ sponsoring this survey? What’s in it for them?
    Have these surveyed individuals been reading Freakanomics (Chpt. 1) and are they providing data that puts a positive spotlight on a challenging profession? Come on, who wants to come across as not collaborating? Especially when we put a premium on school and children? (See Part 2)
    When we gonna learn that you can’t quantify the quality of a good education? This report is useful ONLY if it is followed by critique and action that could lead to positive changes in our classrooms.

    I’m not being a cynic, just a Realist…

    Per the message from MetLife:
    “The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Collaborating for Student Success looks at the school as a workplace, among its many functions. It asks if, how and to what extent teachers, principals and students work and learn together to increase their success.”

    I’ve got issues with using the words STUDENT and WORKPLACE in the same sentence. Our schools are not corporations, they are educational centers.

    If I’m not reading clearly or if I am missing the point, someone help me out.

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