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)