Monday, September 01, 2014

How do teachers really feel about their job?

by Katarzyna Kubacka
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

September marks the return to school for many students, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, and the return to classrooms for many teachers. It is difficult to know exactly what teachers around the world are thinking as they walk into their classrooms. However, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) provides us with some useful insights into how teachers feel about their profession and its standing in society.

Media often paints a picture of dissatisfied teachers who are unhappy with their jobs. TALIS findings offer a different view: most of teachers enjoy their job and see the advantages of being a teacher as clearly outweighing the disadvantages. This is good news for education systems around the world:  job satisfaction has important implications for teacher attrition as well as teachers’ attitudes about their job. Teachers who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to stay in their profession, and feel confident in their skills as teachers.

At the same time, TALIS data show that some teachers do not see their profession as appreciated by society. Less than one in three teachers across TALIS countries believe that teaching is a valued profession in their country. Such a negative perception is likely to affect not only teachers who are currently at the start of their teaching career, but also those considering teaching as a career path. This is an alarming discovery, as building effective education systems requires securing the most qualified candidates for the teaching profession. Indeed, results show that teachers from high performing education systems are more likely to report that they believe their profession to be valued within society. What is it that these countries are doing right?

There are policies and practices that can support teacher job satisfaction. Empowering teachers is one such method: the extent to which teachers can participate in decision-making within their schools has a strong positive association with their perception of being valued. The results also show that the social connections teachers build in schools make a big difference. Positive relationships between teachers, as well as between teachers and students, are related to higher job satisfaction. Collaboration between teachers is another factor that is positively associated with teachers’ job satisfaction, as well as opportunities for professional development. These and other findings from the TALIS 2013 report can be helpful for policy-makers and education leaders in their efforts to build better teaching and learning environments.

To learn more about this topic, take a look at the Teaching in Focus brief. Look out for further Teaching in Focus briefs in the coming months via our website,, that will be discussing topics relevant to the experience of teachers, based on the TALIS 2013 report.

Teaching and Learning International Survey
Teaching In Focus No. 5: What helps teachers feel valued and satisfied by their jobs? by Katarzyna Kubacka
A Teachers' Guide to TALIS 2013
Photo credit: Young business woman writing question mark  / @Shutterstock 

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