Kit Harris, ASCD Research

ED Pulse Poll Results: What Is Most Important in Building School Morale?

ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. A recent ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers asked readers what they feel is most important in building educator morale at a school.

The topic of school morale is not new. Studies have been done for many years on the effect it has on teacher turnover, how it can be raised, its relationship to teacher effectiveness, and other aspects. But in this era of increased standards, one of the components of school morale—the level of teacher autonomy—has revived a heated examination of the issue.

A new report on teacher morale from the Center for American Progress claims that teacher dissatisfaction is not as low as most people think, but has come under some criticism for its lack of in-depth analysis. This report has sparked some lively debate on blogs and columns and the February 2014 issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine on the theme "Building School Morale" is very well-timed to add a variety of perspectives to the discussion.

With this in mind, this poll question sought the opinion of ASCD SmartBrief readers on what aspect of school morale was most important. These educators selected school leaders at my school know me as an individual and respect me as a professional (34 percent) as the single most important factor in building educator morale. Following this, the item that describes an aspect of autonomy, I have the opportunity to have input into decisions affecting my work in this school (24 percent), was next most important. In third place is the requirement that the demands placed on me in my role at the school are reasonable (16 percent).

This survey question was included in ASCD SmartBrief, a free daily e-mail news service that provides summaries and links to major education stories and issues, which has more than 200,000 subscribers. Using ED Pulse, the weekly online poll, data was collected from 484 readers, starting on January 30, 2014. Online surveys do not provide a random sample, as participants are self-selected, meaning that a margin of sampling error cannot be calculated or quoted. In addition, the population and sample are limited to those with access to computers and an online network. However, online surveys have been shown to produce results that have proven to be reliable predictors of outcomes, including election results. If you have a question on education that you would like to see addressed in a future ED Pulse poll, feel free to submit it in the comment section below, along with any other comments.

Kit Harris is the marketing research lead at ASCD. The quantitative and qualitative research work done is in support of strategic initiatives in marketing, membership, product/program/service development, and conferences/meetings. Harris started her career in Chicago at a marketing research firm, then moved to D.C. to serve as the research director at advertising agency Earle Palmer Brown & Associates. Prior to coming to ASCD, she ran her own research firm.

Comments (2)

Ann Davis-Allan

February 11, 2014

Yes, I agree with this pulse poll, having your individual work appreciated and having your input about the work you do respected by leadership in my mind is essential!!

Tom Plitzuweit

March 3, 2014

Principals need to make it a top priority to get to know their teachers, respect them, and give them a voice in educational decisions.  Feeling appreciated and supported by leadership goes a long way in the morale of the teacher, which ultimately affects the morale throughout the school.

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