My Turn: Take a closer look at teacher survey

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 24, 2012

Karen C. Lilly-Bowyer 

The statistics from the Rowan Salisbury Teacher survey need to be examined more closely. All of the schools with low marks on teacher satisfaction are schools with very diverse student populations. Ask any educator who has worked in a school with a challenging student population and they will tell you that they work harder than the teachers in less diverse schools work. Certainly, frustration and stress add to the feeling of being overworked.
When differences between the 2010 and 2012 teacher surveys at Granite Quarry Elementary are disaggregated, some very important information emerges. Is Granite Quarry Elementary a “good place to work and learn?” Based on 30 full-time teachers, the drop of 31 percentage points translates to nine teachers. The drop for “mutual respect and trust” was 25 percentage points or seven teachers. The drop for “administrative support” was 20 percentage points or six teachers. Most likely, the same teachers gave the negative responses each time.
Granted, it would be wonderful if every teacher in the RSS system felt appreciated and supported by the school administration, but is that realistic? Schools are like all other places of business. Some people support the team effort and some do not. Sometimes a person’s job performance does not merit appreciation. No matter how hard a manager tries, he or she cannot make everyone happy and still do his or her job successfully. Most people have experienced a workplace that is contaminated by folks who are unhappy. Unhappy workers are like a virus. Their negative ideas, no matter how unfounded, tend to spread. How realistic is it to include a popularity contest in a manager’s performance evaluation.
Several schools reported a drop in teacher satisfaction with regard to the amount of non-instructional time allotted. The non-instructional time is not “free” time. Teachers should be expected to spend non-instructional time on staff development and preparation for instruction. As a retired educator, I can honestly say that the only way a teacher will ever have enough non-instructional time is for the educator to make a commitment to work after the children’s school day is complete. As with other professionals, teachers often need to work beyond normal business hours.
During my career as an educator, I had the pleasure of working with Vickie Booker, principal of Granite Quarry Elementary and with her assistant principal, Kristine Wolfe. I can say without reservation that both of these women are exceptional educators and leaders. Both of these women are guided by a profound desire to provide children with a nurturing environment and the very best learning opportunities.
It would be wonderful if every school had a staff that was 100 percent happy and 100 percent of the children reached their educational goals, but that unfortunately is not realistic. As an educator and a grandmother, if I had to make a choice, I would make the decision Mrs. Booker has made consistently throughout her career. She has always put the children first, and the improvement in her student’s yearly progress has proven her wisdom.
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Karen C. Lilly-Bowyer retired in 2008 from the Winston-Salem Forsyth School System where she was program director for local assessment. She previously worked as a language arts teacher and middle school literacy specialist for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.