Survey Results: Teachers Report Strong Connections with Students, while Relationships with Administrators and Parents are Strained

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The Schools of Hope Survey, undertaken by the non-profit Center for College & Career Readiness in partnership with MeTEOR Education, paints a mixed picture of the relationships in schools today. Nearly 80 percent of teachers feel their relationships with students are “very positive,” while 41 percent report feeling their relationships with administrators to be “strained.”

In recent years, a number of high-profile national studies have illustrated significant issues of disengagement amongst teachers. Both the Gallup Daily tracking survey and Metlife “Survey of the American Teacher” were widely reported as finding a majority of teachers to be “disengaged” and reporting historically low levels of job satisfaction and well-being.

“The Education Machine often creates tremendous cross-incentives that can strain healthy working relationships between teachers, administrators and even parents,” explains Bill Latham, CEO of MeTEOR Education.  “Too often our system misplaces resources and spends relational capital, not on efforts to improve teaching and learning, but rather to prioritize summative testing results as definitive judgment on the impact their teachers are having.  Education is relational, not transactional- but the incentives in the system can easily drive wedges between teachers and administrators.”

Latham believes, “The strong relationships between teacher and student have an amazing sustaining effect that counters many of the difficulties teachers regularly face.  When the child and teacher are connected, amazing things happen for both.”

With more than 7,000 educators responding, the survey also revealed teachers felt only slightly more positive about their interactions with parents.  The data showed only 45 percent noting “very positive” bonds with parents in their community.

In the recently-released book Humanizing the Education Machine: How to Create Schools That Turn Disengaged Kids Into Inspired Learners (Wiley, 2016) author Rex Miller and his co-author Latham, recount their national trek to find stories of success in America’s schools where relationships between all stakeholders are positively affecting student outcomes.  The results were hopeful, but mixed.

“One of the central findings in our book, and underscored by the respondents to our national survey, is the need for school leaders to focus on increasing the wellness of teachers through the strength of their relationships,” said Latham. “Interestingly, the connection between teacher job satisfaction, student engagement, and mutual respect were the foundation of every hopeful success story we found.  When leadership focuses on building social capital in the community, we found that even those schools that struggle the most across a host of academic, environment and rapport issues, could rise up and succeed.”

One such example of success came at Momentous Institute.  “Trust has been created in our school by leading with relationships and being open to influence. We have co-created Momentous Institute and Momentous School with our stakeholders,” says Michelle Kinder, Executive Director of Momentous Institute. “We learn together as we go and we’ve found that we get it wrong as often as we get it right, but the way the team steps into the moments when we get it wrong is truly exceptional.”

The Center for College & Career Readiness will continue to survey thousands of educators throughout 2017 to gather “real time snapshots of the authentic schoolhouse.” When completed, the Schools of Hope survey will provide one of the largest samples of educator responses in modern times.

Latham and Miller are also launching a national “Educators Read Together for Kids” initiative to stimulate a broader conversation on how some of America’s most distressed schools are using innovative strategies to build positive relationships between school leaders, teachers and families. Administrators and teachers interested in learning more about the “Educators Read Together for Kids” initiative can go to https://meteoreducation.com/educators-read-together-for-kids-initiative.

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