Student success depends on teacher engagement. And since tomorrow, May 5, is National Teacher Day, let’s look at why teacher engagement is important and how to build it.
Why is Teacher Engagement important?
Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce! All business leaders ought to have a vested interest in student success.
Like any employee, engaged teachers are more productive, motivated, willing to do more than the bare minimum, and have less absenteeism and higher wellness levels. Building teacher engagement ensures that tax dollars — and effort! –are well spent.
Are Most Teachers Engaged?
Not according to Gallup’s recent “State of America’s Schools Report,” which finds nearly seven in ten educators are emotionally unconnected or dissatisfied with their workplaces.
In USA Today’s “Most Teachers Are Not Engaged in Their Jobs, Gallup Finds,” education reporter Allie Bidwell reviews Gallup’s report. The organization surveyed more than 7,000 teachers and included questions about workplace expectations, needed resources, and supervisor relationships.
In Bidwell’s estimation, teachers aren’t likely to offer positive feedback on workplace engagement. She writes, “On two points, teachers were the least likely of any profession … to respond positively: whether they feel their opinions at work count, and whether their supervisor creates an ‘open and trusting environment.’”
Although teachers’ engagement matches the overall engagement level among the U.S. workforce (30% and 31% respectively), their dissatisfaction remains a significant concern. The USA Today article quotes Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education:
“So they’re not less engaged—that’s the good news. But for people who influence the engagement of a lot of young people in their classroom, it’s really important. If anybody in the country should be more engaged in their job, it should be our teachers.”
Gallup’s Matt Hastings and Sangeeta Agrawal concur. Their article, “Washington Leads Largest U.S. States in Teacher Engagement” points to a key factor in building teacher engagement:
“Engaged teachers are more likely to yield engaged students who realize greater educational achievement. Given these findings, the impetus to select and develop school principals and teachers based on their natural aptitudes for the role is paramount.”
What Builds Teacher Engagement?
In his blog post, “Teacher Engagement is the Key to Student Engagement,” Bruce Beairsto asks,
“… what engages teachers? Another way to ask that question is, what motivates them?”
Traditional carrot-and-stick motivation theory doesn’t cut it. According to Daniel Pink, author of best-selling business book Drive, teaching requires complex and creative insight. Pink’s research finds that engagement and motivation rooted in autonomy, mastery, and purpose motivate not only teachers, but all workers!
“… people want to have reasonable control over what they do, to do it well and to feel that it is meaningful because it contributes to a larger purpose. This creates a virtuous circle of increasing vocation, contribution and fulfillment.”
It may sound complicated, but building teacher engagement really just means following management best practices. Our next post will cover strategies for building teacher engagement, including hands-on tactics for doing so.
In the meantime, thank a teacher! A simple thank-you goes a long way. Make your thanks public with #thankateacher!
For more great tips and insights into building a vibrant culture of engagement, respect and appreciation at your school or business, be sure to download our free e-book, “The Top 20 Employee Engagement Blogs You Should be Reading”.
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