Week 2: What role does professional satisfaction play in the effectiveness of a classroom?


By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34163689


I live and breathe statistics, and so it is appropriate to begin with some astonishing, maybe not so astonishing, data results.  There are a variety of factors that affect job satisfaction for teachers, and Karen Meyers Giacometti, in her dissertation, concluded that the best predictor for choosing to stay in the profession, or not, in the first three years of teaching was emotional factors such as anxiety, joy of teaching, confidence, making a difference in children’s lives, commitment, burn out, frustration, and stress. (2005)  One of the least predictors of choosing to stay in the profession, or not, was instructional support such as professional development, mentoring program, and induction program. (2005)  The latter result is corroborated by another study by Thomas Meager. (2011)  If you ponder this, it makes some sense.  In another study by the U.S. Department of Education, they surveyed public school teachers nationwide and determined that in different three school years since 2003, the percent of teachers that were “satisfied” in the job was around 91%.  (Sparks, 2016)  Interestingly, when they asked those same teachers about the perception of administrative support, among the teachers that agreed administration is supportive,  95% stated they are “satisfied”, but among the teachers that disagreed administration is supportive, 65% stated they were “satisfied.” (Sparks, 2016)  The overall result of 91% seem inflated, but the reader is informed that the categories agree and somewhat agree is combined.  The same is true about administrative support categories.  (agree = agree and somewhat agree, disagree = disagree and somewhat disagree)  But there is a significant difference in these percentages.

This brings me to what I think is the most influential factor to professional satisfaction, which Dave Burgess describes as Play Your Drum.  (Kindle Ed.).  He describes The Little Drummer Boy story and how the boy’s passion of playing the drum is the only gift he can afford to give.  We all need to have that same passion for teaching and giving it our all to students.  Our enthusiasm is sometimes the only positive component in a child’s life.  The classroom should be a safe place for learning and engaging students.

It’s no surprise that professional development, mentoring program, and induction program has little effect on job satisfaction.  These components are still important to develop and participate in as we learn more about the teaching profession, but they don’t have a chance compared to emotional factors.  It was also not surprising that if teachers felt there was no administrative support in the eyes of a teacher, job satisfaction would decrease.  Leadership is an important component in the educational arena, and administrators need to give and offer support to their staff in any way possible. If possible, provide that emotional support that affects teachers so much as to quit teaching altogether.

So what role does professional satisfaction play in the classroom?  EVERYTHING.


Burgess, Dave. Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Meagher, Thomas. (2011). An Investigation of the Relationships of Teacher Professional Development, Teacher Job Satisfaction, and Teacher Working Conditions. Dissertations. Paper 68. Retrieved from http://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_diss/68

Meyers Giacometti, Karen S. (2005). Factors Affecting Job Satisfaction and Retention of Beginning Teachers. Dissertation at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. [PDF] Retrieved from https://theses.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-11152005-172907/unrestricted/final.pdf

Sparks, Dinah. (2016) Teacher Job Satisfaction. Data Point: U.S. Department of Education. [PDF]. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016131.pdf


7 thoughts on “Week 2: What role does professional satisfaction play in the effectiveness of a classroom?

  1. Gerald,
    I have always loved how you tie math into our topics. I can tell by your writings that you do possess job satisfaction. Not because all of the students and staff you work with voice their appreciation every day for a job well done. I think it’s because of the one student that struggles with statistics finally understands standard deviation and you get a small involuntary thank you. That is what effective teaching and job satisfaction means to me.

    Great post.



  2. Hi Gerald,
    I really enjoyed reading your post this week. The statistics you found from Karen Meyers Giacometti’s dissertation on the predictors of teachers choosing to stay in the classroom was very interesting. I wonder how the teachers in the study felt about their teaching preparation program and how well it prepared them for the realistic challenges that teacher’s face in the classroom. I remember taking countless classes about learning the pedagogy of everything but lacked confidence beginning my teaching career in dealing with real life issues of students and how to support them emotionally. I can see how those emotional factors such as anxiety, joy of teaching, confidence, making a difference in children’s lives, commitment, burn out, frustration, and stress were some of the high ranking predictors in teachers choosing whether or not to stay in the profession.


    • I can tell you that back in the 80s, I felt my teacher preparation program ill prepared me to the realities of school. I do have to say that my student teaching experience for a semester was so much more valuable then the preceding courses that tried to prepare me for the classroom. I don’t know how teacher preparation programs are like now, but I feel if there were more “hands on”, and “in class” time for beginning teachers to experience, they would be better prepared when they get their first job. I think learning about all aspects of technology would greatly help too. I know I didn’t have that type of program 30 years ago!


  3. I really liked the Drummer Boy analogy as well. I think it is a great way to describe how we should be with our students. I like how you added that sometimes our enthusiasm is the only positive component in our student’s lives and our classroom should be a safe place. I have always thought the classroom needed to be a safe space for children to express themselves openly (within reason keeping it appropriate). Before this year, I knew each one of my students, I knew their parents, I knew where they lived, I knew that at night they always went home to a warm house and had a bed to sleep in and food to eat. This year, though, that has all changed. I know my students on the surface, some a little better, but I often find myself wondering where and what they go home to at night. I worry about some of them who seem to not have it as good as others. It really makes me want my classroom to be safe and a place where they can relax and not worry for a little bit each day. If that’s the most they get out of my class, I would be okay with it, because I know if they feel safe, the learning will come eventually.

    I also agree with the decrease in satisfaction based on the support of the administrators. I have been on both sides of the fence, had an administrator that was over the top involved, sometimes I wish she’d just back off and then I’ve had administrators who weren’t involved at all. The whole year, I maybe had two conversations with them and it was when I was getting my feedback for observations. I thought they were all great, but looking back, I would much rather have the over the top involved administrator than one who was more of come and ask for help if you need it. Having an involved administrator made me feel cared about and like I was worth her time. I can definitely see a professional satisfaction change between the years because of that.


  4. I find it interesting that someone has actually studied teacher satisfaction and determined that mentoring and professional development have little to do with it. It seems that the big push these days is mentoring and professional development. I know for me (never had a mentor) development has very little to do with how happy I am in the classroom. More times than not, it seems like a chore. My satisfaction comes from me feeling I’m making a difference for some students and doing good in their lives as well as their family’s lives.


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