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How Does Learner-Centered PD Support Teacher Job Satisfaction?

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"A teacher who loves learning earns the right and the ability to help others learn.” ~ Ruth Beechick

The United States is in the midst of an ongoing and worsening teacher shortage. While there are many factors that have contributed to the shortage, it’s undeniable that some teachers are not satisfied with their jobs and have left the profession entirely to pursue other endeavors.

At Alludo, we work with school districts every day to help them improve teacher retention and reduce teacher turnover – something that’s particularly important considering the high cost of replacing quality teachers. One of the things we know is that learner-centered professional development supports teacher job satisfaction. Here’s what you need to know.

Table of Contents

  1. What Influences Teacher Job Satisfaction?
    1. Percentage of Teachers Who Are Satisfied
    2. Why Do Good Teachers Leave the Profession?
      1. Stress and Burnout
      2. Lack of Support
      3. Lack of Upward Mobility
      4. Lack of Control
  2. How Can We Boost Job Satisfaction with PD?
  3. How Does Learner-Centered PD Support Job Satisfaction?
    1. Focus on Needs and Goals of the Individual Learner
    2. Allow Learners to Develop Naturally
    3. Give Learners a Choice in What They Learn & How They Learn It
    4. Encourage Interaction and Collaboration
  4. Alludo’s Take

What Influences Teacher Job Satisfaction?

Teacher dissatisfaction is an issue everywhere, but how big a problem is it – and what causes teachers to become dissatisfied with their profession?

Percentage of Teachers Who Are Satisfied

EducationWeek published a survey about teacher job satisfaction and found that teacher satisfaction was at an all-time low as of April of 2022. Let’s dig into the numbers to see what that all-time low looks like.

The first number of significance is that just over half of teachers said they were satisfied with their jobs. The survey asked teachers to rate their satisfaction on a scale and only 12% said they were “very satisfied,” a precipitous drop from a high of 62% in 2010.

Fully 44% of teachers said they were considering leaving the profession and many noted that if they could, they would warn their younger selves not to pursue a career in teaching. Clearly, we are in a teacher retention crisis.

Why Do Good Teachers Leave the Profession?

Teachers leave the profession for many reasons. Some may be related to personal issues but many are related to how they feel about their jobs. Here are four key reasons why good teachers may choose to leave teaching in favor of another profession.

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#1 Stress and Burnout

Stress and burnout play a major role in teacher turnover. Teachers often have unreasonably busy schedules. They are expected to maintain order in the classroom, produce good student outcomes in the form of high test scores, and grade students’ work when they’re not in school.

They may also be required to monitor students who participate in extracurricular activities. The emotional stress and physical stress can be extreme and teachers who aren’t supported can burn out quickly.

#2 Lack of Support

A lack of support can also lead to teacher turnover. Teachers don’t get enough credit for the difficult and essential work they do.

Ultimately, effective teachers who don’t feel they have support from their district school leaders may choose to take their skills elsewhere.

K-12 Professional Development Strategy Framework

#3 Lack of Upward Mobility

In many districts, there may be virtually no upward mobility for teachers who want to grow in their profession. The only option may be to move into a leadership role but that takes teachers away from students – something they may not want.

This is an issue that can be exacerbated by lackluster professional development. That’s something we’ll talk about more in an upcoming section.

#4 Lack of Control

Finally, in the EducationWeek survey, a majority of teachers cited a lack of control over everything from classroom supplies to curricula to professional development as a reason for their dissatisfaction.

A lack of agency can make teachers feel that they don’t matter and is a contributor to teacher dissatisfaction and turnover.

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How Can We Boost Job Satisfaction with PD?

Teacher job satisfaction might be at an all-time low but the good news is that school districts can do a lot to boost job satisfaction with some changes in the way they support teachers plus a well-designed system of professional development that addresses these issues:

  • Opportunities for choice and autonomy. If you’re not currently encouraging teachers in your district to share their perspectives and have a say in what they do and how they do it, then they may feel stifled by a lack of autonomy. You can create a work environment where teachers have an open forum to share their thoughts and present ideas.
  • Opportunities for professional growth and development. If your professional development structure is stagnant, then you can invigorate teachers by providing a tiered structure where they can build on their success and pursue individual goals. You can also encourage teachers to build mentor/mentee relationships.
  • Respecting teachers’ time. Professional development can be time-consuming. Traditional PD with in-person classes requires teachers to take time away from the classroom. Sending teachers to PD they don’t want or need builds resentment and may be a contributing factor to job dissatisfaction. The solution is to allow teachers a choice and a voice in what they learn, which creates a school climate that respects their time and effort.
  • Collaboration and building positive relationships. Teachers thrive when they have positive interactions with their peers. They can share ideas to connect with students, celebrate personal growth, and just have fun. Some schools encourage teachers to participate in group activities that can positively impact their job satisfaction.
  • Opportunities to be meaningful/have impact. Teachers want to feel that their work is meaningful to their school and most of all, to their students. Part of the solution is to provide PD that’s directly related to their time in the classroom and helps them to engage and connect with students while delivering positive student outcomes.
  • Recognition for teachers’ work. Finally, teachers want to be recognized for a job well done. This may be the easiest change to make because it’s such a simple one. We have a system of rewards built into the online learning environments we design. You can provide recognition by having a recognition ceremony where you acknowledge your successes and praise teachers for their work.

AL_08-Blog02-3Any of these things can help to reinvigorate teachers and improve their job satisfaction.

How Does Learner-Centered PD Support Job Satisfaction?

Now, let’s talk about some of the specific ways that learner-centered professional development can support teacher job satisfaction.

Focus on Needs and Goals of the Individual Learner

Learner-centered PD focuses on the needs and goals of the individual learner which is important because it allows teachers to develop professionally and grow in their jobs.

While there will undoubtedly be some PD requirements that all teachers in your district must complete, it’s important to allow learners to set individual goals.

When individual learners are prioritized, they are more likely to be engaged in PD. Since teacher engagement can be an issue in any school district, it makes sense to use a learner-centered model to maximize engagement and excitement about PD.

Allow Learners to Develop Naturally

Every learner is unique. That’s something teachers know and it’s part of what makes their jobs both challenging and rewarding. Connecting with students and meeting them where they are is what great teachers do to ensure student achievement.

In a learner-centered PD model, teachers get the same benefit they provide to their students. They can pursue their individual goals at their own pace. As they learn, they may discover a passion for a new topic and go on to learn about that.

Teachers feel most supported when they can pursue their interests. The learner-centered approach allows them to develop naturally as they become better teachers and advocates for their students.

Give Learners a Choice in What They Learn & How They Learn It

At Alludo, we strongly believe in giving teacher-learners a choice in what they learn and how they learn it. The Alludo platform allows schools and districts to set requirements while still making room for teacher choice.

For example, teachers can choose from our huge catalog of learning activities to focus on topics that inspire passion and help them connect with their students.

Since all learning is virtual, teachers also choose how and when to complete their PD requirements and electives. They can do it at any time that’s convenient for them.

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Encourage Interaction and Collaboration

Finally, learner-centered PD for teachers encourages interaction and collaboration. Teachers can connect with one another in an online learning environment, collaborating even when school is not in session.

We have built gamification into our learning platform. Teachers can engage in healthy competition with one another while earning rewards for completing PD microlearning activities.

When teachers are encouraged to interact with one another, they’re more likely to feel supported and satisfied in their jobs.

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Alludo’s Take

At Alludo, we specialized in building an online learning environment for teacher professional development. What we discovered in our Teacher Happiness Survey is that teachers in districts that have partnered with Alludo have, on the whole, higher job satisfaction than those who work in other districts. 

Here are some key educational research findings:

  • 49% of teachers from districts using Alludo said that online, asynchronous professional development is most effective for them. (The only category that scored higher was collaboration with a colleague, which is something Alludo supports.)
  • 78% of teachers from Alludo districts say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, compared to just 68% from other districts surveyed.
  • 52% of teachers from Alludo districts reported being satisfied with their opportunities for professional growth.
  • 90% of teachers who use Alludo say that they believe their ideas have an impact in the classroom.

We use the learner-driven model because we believe that it does the best job of supporting teachers and giving them the growth opportunities they need–and that leads to job satisfaction. One example is the Springboro Schools, who have been with Alludo for three years. With a budget to support only two educational technology leaders, they were struggling to support the district’s teachers.

With Alludo’s help, the two have been able to support teachers and increase teacher engagement in professional development. Alludo makes training accessible and fun and the result has been tech certification for 350 satisfied teachers and staff.

Springboro Case Study

Boost Teacher Job Satisfaction in Your District with Learner-Centered PD

Embracing a learner-centered PD approach can help any school district increase teacher satisfaction and decrease turnover–something that can save you both time and money.

Want to reach up to 100% PD in your district? See how Alludo can help make it happen with our free professional development platform trial, including:

  • Hundreds of core topics
  • Asynchronous microlearning activities
  • Timely and specific feedback
  • Analytics that show learning impact
  • Access anytime, anywhere

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