Teaching then and now

To celebrate the 25th anniversary publication of its widely followed annual teacher poll, the MetLife Foundation compared responses from its most recent survey (2008) with teacher views offered in the survey’s early years.

As Teacher Magazine reports, “For the most part…the trend lines are encouraging, even surprising in some cases. The percentage of teachers saying that they are very satisfied with their careers has increased from 40 in 1984 to 62 in 2008, while more teachers today (66 percent) feel respected by society than did their counterparts in 1984 (47 percent).” [Download a PDF of The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Past, Present, and Future]

Other survey findings reported by Teacher’s Anthony Rebora:

Perhaps even more provocatively, the percentage of teachers agreeing that they can earn a “decent salary” has nearly doubled since 1984, to 66 percent, and far more teachers today (75 percent, compared to 45 percent in 1984) say they would recommend a career in teaching to a young person.

In addition, two thirds of today’s teachers affirm that they were well-prepared for the profession, compared to 46 percent in 1984. Teachers also feel better equipped today than in past years when it comes to addressing student-learning challenges such as poverty, limited English language proficiency, and lack of parental support, according to the report.

The number of teachers who rate the academic standards in their school as excellent, meanwhile, has doubled from 26 percent in 1984 to 53 percent today, and 89 percent of teachers say their school’s curriculum is excellent or good, compared to 81 percent in 1984.

Not all the news was good. Some longstanding challenges have increased. Today, half (49%) of teachers say that poverty hinders learning for at least a quarter of their students, compared to 41% in 1992. More teachers (43%) agree that their classes have become so mixed in terms of students’ learning abilities that they can’t teach effectively, compared to 39% in 1988. The survey also found that few teachers (perhaps 25%) are making regular use of the Internet’s interactive potential in their teaching or their own professional development, a finding explored by TLN blogger Bill Ferriter in a February 25 post.

So what do you think? Do these results match your own reality?

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