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)