Teacher Support…It needs to change.

A common message in education these days. . . It needs to change. More specifically, a number of recent articles suggest one area of change should be teacher professionalism. What does this professionalism look like? How does professionalism impact job satisfaction?

To no surprise, one key piece of job satisfaction is teacher support. These practices of support tend to be more beneficial for teachers of students considered as low socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, these are also the teachers that tend to receive the least support.

From an OECD report published in February 2016 (Original Article – OECD: Teacher Professionalism Needs Improvement Worldwide), three areas of teacher professionalism were identified: 1) knowledge base of teaching and best practices; 2) autonomy of teacher’s decision-making abilities; and 3) peer networks for professional learning. As a means to ‘score’ professionalism in these three areas, the average number of best practices was considered. Some key findings included: more pre-service support than in-service support; teachers have more say in selection of course materials versus assessment, content, or discipline; peer networking is often observation rather than collaboration; and primary teachers are more likely than secondary teachers to participate in development.

For the United States specifically, most teachers have participated in teacher education programs. However, just over half are given release time for professional learning, and still fewer participate in research. Control over materials was seen as the area of most autonomy, with far fewer having say in discipline practices or assessments. Most teachers reported receiving feedback from direct observations, while less than half indicated they participated in more collaborative peer networks.

While no specific policy suggestions were made for changing teacher professionalism, the report offered the following recommendations: require pre-service education training; expand mentoring; conduct classroom-based individual or collaborative research; and encourage participation in peer networks.

What are some suggestions you have to help to make the change to support our teachers before and during their careers?

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