Teacher Appreciation Week (May 5-9) provides opportunities for parents and students across the country to say “thanks” to the people who inspire them every day. This year, University of Phoenix College of Education surveyed K-12 teachers nationwide about why they entered the profession, the challenges they face and how they want parents to be involved in the classroom.
When asked the reasons why they became teachers, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of K-12 teachers say it was because they wanted to make a difference in children’s lives and 72 percent say it was because they enjoy working with children. Nearly half (49 percent) say a teacher inspired them when they were a student and more than one-third (34 percent) say they wanted to inspire change in education. The newly released online survey of more than 1,000 full-time K-12 teachers in the U.S. was conducted on behalf of University of Phoenix College of Education by Harris Poll in the fourth quarter of 2013.
“There is great demand for quality educators and teaching offers unique professional benefits,” said Eve Breier, Ed.D., college chair for University of Phoenix College of Education, and a former public school teacher. “As a teacher, you can be innovative, experimental and self-reflect each day on how you can make improvements the very next day or the following school year. Teachers have the ability to impact lives and provide support for children that directly helps set them on successful paths.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6-17 percent job growth for preschool – 12th grade educators between 2012 and 2022i, depending on the grade level. The data identifies preschoolii, kindergarten and elementary educationiii as particular growth areas. Breier attributes much of the growth in preschool to the increased recognition by legislators, education leaders and parents of the importance of early childhood education. Breier also says there is consistent demand for high school math and science teachers, as well as special education teachers.
Understanding the Challenges Teachers Face
The University of Phoenix College of Education survey shows that the focus on standardized testing (69 percent), students’ lack of respect for authority (63 percent), lack of parent involvement in the classroom (47 percent), class sizes being too big (47 percent), the significant gap between student achievement levels (47 percent) and the difficulty in disciplining children (43 percent), are sources of K-12 teacher frustration.
“Like all professionals, educators face challenges, but it is a very exciting time to be a teacher,” said Breier. “Teachers are lifelong learners and technology is making education more collaborative than ever before. Teachers have the ability to connect their classrooms to other students and subject experts from around the world and are increasingly using technology to tie classroom lessons to real world applications.”
Teachers Want Parents to Be Involved
Nearly all (97 percent) K-12 teachers want parents to get involved in their classrooms. This is not limited to the younger grades—in fact, 95 percent of high school teachers want parents involved in their classrooms. Yet more than three-quarters (76 percent) of K-12 teachers say less than half of parents of children in their classes are involved in their classrooms. Only 8 percent of K-12 teachers say that 75 to 100 percent of the parents are involved in the classroom.
“Parents play integral roles in their children’s educations and have the power to expand on the work of the teachers, both inside and outside of the classroom,” added Breier. “In teacher education programs at University of Phoenix, we help current and prospective teachers create inclusive classroom environments that offer many ways for parents to get involved. School websites and social media are making it easier for parents to stay engaged and for teachers to share lesson plans and classroom activities.”
Beyond the Apple: How You Can Say Thanks During Teacher Appreciation Week, and All Year Long
When it comes to how teachers want parents to get involved, 71 percent of K-12 teachers say they want parents to regularly communicate with them, followed by not waiting until there is an issue to connect with them (67 percent), asking about areas for improvement for their child (66 percent), donating supplies (47 percent), visiting the classroom (38 percent) and volunteering in the classroom (35 percent).
“Parents can certainly appreciate their children’s teachers by reinforcing academic and behavioral expectations at home,” said Breier. “Learning how to support teachers year-round is the best form of recognition.” She offers the following fun and creative ways to recognize and support teachers this week, and throughout the year:
Saying “Thanks” During Teacher Appreciation Week
- Send a thank-you note. Write a letter and encourage your child to write one too—this allows your child to practice writing skills and provides an opportunity to consider the impact of his/her education.
- Tweet for teacher! Use social media to thank your child’s teacher publicly and highlight what they have done throughout the year.
- Give the gift of reading. Buy a book to add to the classroom library that is reflective of the teacher and the impact he or she has on students.
- Help them get organized. Parents and students can offer their time to help teachers reorganize materials and supplies that have come undone throughout the year.
- Create a visual. Have your child draw or paint a poster or collage with words that describe the teacher and mention fun and successful activities from the past year.
Getting Involved Throughout the Year
- Volunteer in class. Children who have involved parents often perform better in school. If you are unable to volunteer in the class, be sure to have regular communication with your child’s teacher.
- Get civic. Become involved in the PTA, serve as classroom parent and advocate for other parents to become involved. Work with your child’s teacher to create a Professional Learning Community (PLC) among parents who meet regularly to discuss key topics, including curriculum and Common Core State Standards.
- Chaperone a field trip. This is a great way to assist the teacher while enjoying a unique educational experience alongside your child.
- Be engaged. Many teachers and schools post lesson plans and school activities online and provide opportunities for parents to be involved in classroom and school discussions.
- Ask! Simply ask the teacher how you can contribute to the class in the most supportive way possible.
For more information about University of Phoenix College of Education degree programs, visit www.phoenix.edu/education.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between Oct. 7 and Oct. 21, 2013. Respondents included 1,005 U.S. residents employed full-time as teachers in grades K-12 who have a college education or more. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Tanya Burden at Tanya.Burden@apollo.edu.
About University of Phoenix® College of Education
University of Phoenix College of Education has been educating teachers and school administrators for more than 30 years. The College of Education provides associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs for individuals who want to become teachers or current educators and administrators seeking advanced degrees to strengthen their professional knowledge. With education programs available throughout most of the U.S., the College of Education has a distinct grasp of the national education picture and priorities for teacher preparation. Faculty members on average bring more than 17 years of professional experience to the classroom. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu/education.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.
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Tanya Burden, 303-570-0617