Survey Reveals What Students Really Think of Teachers
Jill Hare, Editor | Teaching.monster.com
Pearson recently released My Voice Student Aspirations Survey. The survey focused on eight areas of student aspirations: Belonging, Heroes, Sense of Accomplishment, Fun & Excitement, Curiosity & Creativity, Spirit of Adventure, Leadership & Responsibility, and Confidence to Take Action.
The survey questioned more than 400,000 students in grades 6-12, representing 569 different schools and 32 different states. Each student answered 57 questions. After reading the survey myself, I thought I’d share some highlights and low lights. I’m going to focus on the areas of the survey that directly spoke of how teachers impact students.
In general, students surveyed didn’t give many responses where the majority felt stronger than 75%. In the range of 60-75%, though, there were many areas where teachers seems to have a strong impact on the students questioned. In the highest of these areas, 77% of students feel their teachers expect them to be successful. Sixty-five percent of students think their teacher is a positive role model, and 70% noted that their teachers think they can be successful. It’s nice to see that teachers not only think, but expect their students to be successful.
I found that one of the most encouraging areas of the survey for teachers was how students feel about learning. Sixty-four percent of students think learning is fun and 75% enjoy learning new things. In a day where we all want to reach our students in creative ways, it seems this group of students felt strongly that their teachers do a good job of this, noting that 72% of teachers present lessons in different ways. Another positive to point out is 66% of students feel comfortable asking questions in class.
While the survey percentages I listed above may seem low to teachers who are used to grading assignments, they really aren’t. Hovering around 75% represents the majority of students questioned, or 3 out of every 4 students. If you think about it in terms of your class, it might make more sense to you.
The Not-So Positive
The parts of the survey I’m pulling out to highlight in this section fall near or well below the 50% mark. This means that 1 of every 2 students surveyed felt their teachers didn’t measure up in these categories. Keep in mind, the questions they were asked were not about how smart their teachers are, or if teachers give too much homework. The questions were more about the environment the teacher creates for learning.
Respect is an important issue for teachers, and teachers need to work harder to gain students respect. Students surveyed only recorded 39% respect for their teachers. Since respect is a two-way street, it’s not surprising that only 54% of students think their teachers respect them back. A few of the saddest statistics for me to read were that only 48% of students think their teachers care about them. Going even lower, only 45% of students think teachers care if they are absent from school. Around the same percentage marker, only 49% of students think teachers are approachable to talk with about a problem. In light of these findings, teachers can and should work harder to ensure that students know they are important, valued, missed, and cared for.
Is teaching fun? I think the best teachers can make even algebra seem exciting. In the survey, only 38% of students think their teachers have fun at school, while 56% think teachers enjoy working with students. No matter what you teach, it can be presented to students in an exciting way. Only 31% of students surveyed think that their teachers make school an exciting place to learn.
The last survey point I like to mention deals with parents. I hope your relationships with your student’s parents are as good as they can be. You don’t have to be a parent’s best friend, but don’t make a habit of only calling or writing home when the student does something bad. Mention the good, too, and you’ll be surprised how much more willing they’ll be to volunteer or help you when something does go wrong. Only 40% of students said their teachers let their parents know when they do well. Isn’t the whole point of school doing well? Let those parents know! If you need more help with parents, refer to our section on Partnering with Parents.
Teachers are doing a good job, but there’s always room for improvement. Keep working hard, but don’t forget that your job as a teacher can and should be fun. Do you like learning? Then pass on the joy of something new to your students. Let your students see the real you- the one who loves teaching, the one who respects them, and the one who cares for them and how they learn.