What We Learned About Teacher Engagement from a City-Wide Teacher Survey

The Gallup Survey Provides Some Surprising Insights about Teacher Satisfaction

In our last post, we provided information on the Gallup Q12 Engagement Survey and the nearly 500 Oakland teachers who took the voluntary and completely anonymous survey last spring. Now we are excited to share the results! While these results only directly represent the volunteer sample of nearly 500 Oakland teachers, we believe they raise important questions and can launch a conversation about Oakland teachers’ engagement.

Remember, Gallup’s core elements of engagement form a hierarchy of needs, much like Maslow’s hierarchy.

The future of our city depends on great teachers. Teacher engagement is a critical factor affecting whether teachers are happy and continue to teach here in Oakland

Dewanna Slaughter

Teacher Advisory Group Member

“We think that that school leaders, community groups, and our fellow teachers will all have ideas for how to increase teacher engagement based the findings from this survey–in this new school year. Our Teacher Advisory Group is planning to conduct this survey annually, so we can watch for trends and keep the issue of teacher engagement front-and-center.

Robbie Torney

Teacher Advisory Group Member

The most notable finding was that Oakland teachers rated higher levels of satisfaction on the upper engagement levels of the hierarchy, but basic needs are not being met! Indeed, our city’s teachers had a much higher level of dissatisfaction about basic needs than most organizations Gallup has surveyed.

Specifically, Oakland teachers in our sample overwhelmingly responded that they did not have the materials and equipment to do their job. Similarly, teachers in our sample expressed displeasure that they do not have the opportunity to do what they do best every day and a lack of clear expectations in their roles.

For some, this has been obvious for a long time. However, we believe the survey provides school leaders and community partners with a rare opportunity to specifically target resources to meet teachers’ biggest needs so that, as a city, we can retain our schools’ most valuable resource – our dedicated, talented teachers.

Of course, there is much more work to be done and much more to be learned. We need to ascertain exactly what materials and equipment teachers need, which expectations are unclear, and why teachers feel they are not able to do what they do best every day. The Teacher Advisory Group is itching to tackle these issues in depth. We see this as the beginning of a long-term effort to illuminate teacher insights about both teachers’ needs and possible solutions to identified concerns.

The survey also shed light on some encouraging news:

  • A greater percentage of our Oakland respondents are engaged than all teachers nationally: 38% of our Oakland respondents are “engaged” compared with 30% of all teachers nationally.[1]  “Engaged” is defined by Gallup as “involved with, enthusiastic about and committed to their work; they know the scope of their jobs and constantly look for new and better ways to achieve outcomes.”
  • Overall engagement for Oakland teachers was similar to groups taking this survey for the first time.
  • According to the survey, engagement of Oakland teachers was higher on the following elements:
    • Are encouraged to develop
    • Have opportunities at work to learn and grow
    • Feel cared about as a person
    • Believe their colleagues are committed to doing quality work

[1] http://www.gallup.com/poll/180455/lack-teacher-engagement-linked-million-missed-workdays.aspx

We have already begun the process of sharing and discussing the survey results with schools, organizations, and leaders across the city to understand what’s underneath these responses. We’re already hearing from schools and organizations how useful this data will be to their strategies and efforts to best support their teachers. In the coming months, we also want to spotlight the schools and practices across our city where teachers are truly engaged and understand why.

And, we are excited to preview a very exciting announcement: Our colleagues in TAG have been working with the team at Educate78 to provide grants to 12 Oakland schools to implement teachers’ ideas for increasing retention in their schools during the 2016-17 school year! These ideas represent a range of strategies representing all four elements of engagement highlighted in the Gallup survey. We are thrilled to see resources going directly into the hands of teachers to design and implement innovative approached to retention in Oakland schools!

Dewanna Slaughter

Dewanna Slaughter

Frick Impact Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Karen Schreiner

Karen Schreiner

Aspire Monarch Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

Michael Lee

Michael Lee

Greenleaf

Leadership for Educational Equity Fellow at Educate78 (Summer 2016)

Robbie Torney

Robbie Torney

Lodestar

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

Why Teacher Engagement Matters in Oakland

Wondering what will keep

Oakland teachers teaching in Oakland?

Just ask!

That’s exactly what our Teacher Advisory Group did last spring. We are a group of 20 teachers from across the city, and we wanted to hear from our colleagues around Oakland: What affects your job satisfaction and how can we keep you teaching in Oakland? These questions are especially important in a city feeling the pain of a deepening statewide teacher shortage and high annual turnover.

We will share what we learned from Oakland teachers soon. But first, we wanted to share some information about the survey itself.

Why the Gallup Q12 Engagement Survey?  We looked at several survey options and chose the Gallup Q12 for three simple reasons. First, it measures what matters most: Gallup has conducted extensive research to identify the core elements of employee engagement that tie to retention and it has been utilized by thousands of organizations throughout the country to build strong workplaces. Second, it’s short! Teachers are busy, and we liked that the Gallup survey is brief and accessible. Third, the results are actionable. We think that school leaders, community partners, and teachers themselves can and should be a part of the solution to increasing teacher retention across our city. This survey helps us with insight on the areas with greatest opportunity to make a real impact with real solutions.

Who took the Gallup Survey?  Our volunteer sample of nearly 500 Oakland public school teachers was diverse across grade levels, subjects taught, years teaching experience, and race. We’re excited to expand the number and diversity of Oakland teacher respondents even further next year.

How Does the Survey Prioritize Needs? Akin to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Gallup’s survey establishes a four-level employee engagement hierarchy. Employees are asked 12 questions designed to elicit their assessment of each of four levels of engagement:

Level 4: Having opportunities for growth

Level 3: Feeling like a part of a team

Level 2: Feeling successful and supported in their roles

Level 1: Having the basic tools to do their jobs

 

Gallup’s research demonstrates that the first six elements of engagement (Questions 1-6 on the Gallup Q12 survey), including basic needs and management support, are foundational to satisfaction, performance, and retention. The research warns that leaders must ensure that a solid foundation is embedded in the workplace before concentrating on the upper levels of the engagement hierarchy.

As teachers this approach resonates with us: meet our basic needs so we can be successful in our work – providing the best for our students – while we’re building strong teams and seeking opportunities for growth.

Does the Gallup Q12 cover everything that’s important to teacher retention? Absolutely not. We looked at other surveys including some specific to teaching. Many were very detailed. We decided it was more important to have a short survey that very busy teachers could take quickly and that provides actionable data points. We all know survey data is only as good as the action it spurs! This data is a starting point. This fall, we will conduct focus groups with teachers across the city to get more specific insights. The survey is the flashlight that points us in the right directions as we dig deeper.

Stay tuned next week to hear the results!

Dewanna Slaughter

Dewanna Slaughter

Frick Impact Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

Karen Schreiner

Karen Schreiner

Aspire Monarch Academy

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

Michael Lee

Michael Lee

Greenleaf

Leadership for Educational Equity Fellow at Educate78 (Summer 2016)

Robbie Torney

Robbie Torney

Lodestar

Teacher Advisory Group Member (2016)

 

The Heart of our Community and Schools: A look ahead for the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group

The Heart of our Community and Schools:

A look ahead for the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group

All of us at Educate78 believe that teachers are the heart of our community and schools. We know that in world-class schools, teachers are honored and well-supported. We want all Oakland schools to be places in which teachers thrive, both personally and professionally.

This is why we created our Teacher Advisory Group; to ensure Educate78’s work to support Oakland teachers is informed directly by teachers themselves.

Over the coming weeks, Educate78’s Teacher Advisory Group will be sharing the fruits of its work in the first half of 2016. A report on a Citywide Teacher Engagement Survey will provide new insights for keeping Oakland teachers satisfied and teaching in our community. And we’ll announce the teams of teachers who will receive grants to pilot teacher retention ideas in their schools, as part of our Educator Retention Grant Program.

Oakland has incredibly talented and dedicated teachers, and we feel privileged to collaborate with so many committed, insightful and creative educators to increase teacher retention in Oakland schools.

Stay tuned!

The Educate78 Team

Introducing the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group

Something very special and very unique is happening in Oakland – a distinguished and diverse group of incredibly talented public school teachers is coming together to support teacher driven, teacher led, and teacher implemented initiatives across the city to support teacher fulfillment and retention.

These 22 public school teachers have committed to serving on the the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group for the Spring of 2016. We were overwhelmed by the number of applicants from all over the city and humbled by their dedication to the profession and their creative capacity to envision and design strategies to improve teachers’ experiences in Oakland. From such a rich applicant pool, we selected these 22 stellar teachers to guide and inspire teachers throughout Oakland to join together to create a school system that supports its teachers and students to thrive.

It is indeed our privilege to welcome the following teacher leaders to the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group:

Alanna Baumert

Lighthouse

Chela Delgado

Coliseum College Prep

Jennie Herriot-Hatfield

Think College Now

Juliana Germak

NOCCS

Marguerite Sheffer

Life Academy

Michael Williams

Sankofa Academy

Paul Meyer

East Bay Innovation Academy

Antoinette Strain

Greenleaf

Dewanna Slaughter

Frick Middle School

Jeremy Crouthamel

Roosevelt Middle School

Karen Schreiner

Aspire Monarch Academy

Meredith Lewis

East Bay Innovation Academy

Nicki Fox

LPS R&D

Robbie Torney

Lodestar

Bernadette Zermeño

Bridges Academy

Emma Coufal

Think College Now

Johanna Paraiso

Fremont High School

Logan McWilliams

Markham Elementary

Michelle Battle

Unity High School

Nina Portugal

Life Academy

Sharon Gray

Frick Middle School

Our Teacher Advisory Group is a blend of the wisdom of our veteran teachers with over 15 years of experience, the energy of our mid-career teachers, and the youthful enthusiasm of our rookie teachers. We are bringing together teachers from public schools – both traditional and charter –in a variety of neighborhoods across Oakland. The racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the Teacher Advisory Group adds to the potential for meaningful insights and nuanced conversations to meet the needs of all teachers as they strive to bring out the best in all of their students. We are thrilled by the depth and breadth of experience these 22 wonderful teachers bring to this important work.

Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group

Learn more about TAG and our members

Announcing the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group

Here at Educate78 we’re on a mission: To ensure that every student, in all 78 square miles of Oakland, has access to a world-class public school. We hope to do this by accelerating the design of high-quality schools, engaging families, and supporting our city’s educators.

We know that Oakland has “MVP” teachers… We want teachers like these to feel supported, valued and celebrated, and we want them to enjoy fulfilling careers serving Oakland public school students.

We know that Oakland has “MVP” teachers: those who enable each and every child to achieve his or her potential, who always go above-and-beyond, and who beautifully “conduct a symphony of human development” every day (as former rocket-scientist-turned-teacher Ryan Fuller so eloquently described teaching[1]). You may be one of these teachers, or you may know a few. We want teachers like these to feel supported, valued and celebrated, and we want them to enjoy fulfilling careers serving Oakland public school students.

Educate78 is committed to helping Oakland become a city unparalleled in its efforts to attract, develop, retain and celebrate teachers. And we believe that we need teachers’ insights in order to invest our resources wisely to meet this goal.

So, we are creating the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group, which will help us decide how to use our resources to support teachers, advocate for teacher-friendly policies, and create an ecosystem in which educators flourish professionally and personally. Over the past few months, we’ve talked to lots of teachers, and are excited to consider ideas including a city-wide teacher survey, a grants program to directly fund teachers’ ideas, an online platform for policy recommendations, and a campaign to celebrate Oakland teachers. We are hoping that our Teacher Advisory Group will help flesh out these ideas, and make them – and other ideas – a reality.

 Specifically, the Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group members will:

  • be part of a select and diverse group of thoughtful Oakland public school teachers discussing important issues and opportunities;
  • formulate specific recommendations for Educate78’s grant-making;
  • attend 6 advisory meetings (~3 hours each, monthly from January to June);
  • reach out broadly to other teachers to get their input for Advisory Group;
  • receive a $2,000 stipend for their expertise and participation; and
  • receive a $500 expense budget to cover the costs of outreach to solicit input from other teachers.

The Educate78 Teacher Advisory Group

We hope you will consider joining the Teacher Advisory Group, or passing along this opportunity to a great teacher in your community. To apply, please fill out the short application. Applications are due by Friday, January 8th, 2016. We’re looking forward to working with a diverse cross-section of Oakland teachers representing a range of experiences and perspectives to make Oakland a great place for educators!

[1] Smart, Skilled, and Striving: Transforming and Elevating the Teaching Profession. Center for American Progress, November 2015; https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/29080034/TeacherVision-report2.pdf