New Insights from TALIS 2013 : Teaching and Learning in Primary and Upper Secondary Education
OECD. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
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Who are our teachers, and what do they think about the job they do and the support they receive from their colleagues and from society as a whole? The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) asked teachers and school leaders in lower secondary schools in 34 countries and economies about the conditions that affect the learning environment in their schools. The results of the 2013 survey, published in TALIS 2013 Results: An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning (OECD, 2014), show that, among many other findings, lower secondary teachers still work in isolation, rarely or never teach jointly with colleagues, and do not always receive meaningful feedback. They also show that teachers’ satisfaction with their job is much more affected by students’ behaviour than by the size of their classes. This report broadens the results from TALIS to include responses from primary and upper secondary teachers. TAALIS in Primary School: Six countries chose to conduct the TALIS survey in their primary schools in addition to their lower secondary schools: Denmark, Finland, Mexico, Norway, Poland and Flanders (Belgium). The results show that there are more female teachers at the primary level than at any other level of education, while there is near gender equality among primary school leaders. This implies a worrying gender imbalance in promotion among primary school teachers. Primary school principals report that shortages of human and material resources, including support personnel, teachers with advanced qualifications, and information and communication technologies (ICT) equipment, undermine the quality of teaching, especially in schools with larger proportions of students from socio-economically disadvantaged homes. Primary school teachers collaborate with their colleagues in joint teaching and learning activities or simply by exchanging teaching materials and attending team conferences. Like their colleagues in lower secondary schools, primary teachers seem fairly confident about their abilities in the classroom and satisfied with their jobs. However, more than one in four have second thoughts about their choice of work, and only one in three think that society values the teaching profession. TALIS in Upper Secondary School: Ten countries and economies opted to conduct the survey in their upper secondary schools: Australia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Singapore and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). At this level of education, at least 30% of teachers are men. Secondary school principals report that the quality of education can be affected by shortages of teachers and support personnel, and particularly by a lack of qualified teachers. These conditions are more likely to affect schools with large proportions of disadvantaged students or schools located in rural areas. Upper secondary teachers often face the challenge of instructing classes of students who have a wide range of abilities and attitudes, including many low achievers and students with behavioural problems. Most upper secondary teachers consider that their role is to facilitate students’ own inquiry, that learning how to think and reason is more important than learning specific curriculum content. Like their colleagues in lower secondary schools, they are less likely to collaborate with fellow teachers, other than in simple forms of co-operation, like exchanging teaching materials. Upper secondary teachers are generally satisfied with their jobs and work environment. Fewer than half think that the profession is valued in society, but if they had to make the decision again, they would still choose to work as a teacher. At this level of education, teachers’ self-confidence and job satisfaction are related to their classroom environment: teachers who teach classes with larger proportions of low achievers or students with behavioural problems tend to report less self-confidence and less job satisfaction, while those who teach a large proportion of gifted students report greater self-confidence and greater job satisfaction. TALIS from Primary through Upper Secondary School: Most teachers, across all three levels of education, are women. In general, they are experienced as teachers and well-educated, with their own level of educational attainment rising as the level of education they teach rises. Most have participated in some form of teacher education or training. The proportion of disadvantaged students in schools is similar across all three levels of education. However, primary and lower secondary teachers are more likely to report that more than 10% of their students have behavioural problems or special needs, while upper secondary teachers are more likely to report that more than 10% of their students are low achievers. Across all three levels of education, but particularly at the primary and lower secondary levels, teachers report a need for professional development in working with students with special needs, in using ICT for teaching, and in using new technologies, themselves, in the workplace. Teachers and principals also report shortages in teachers qualified to use ICT and in ICT hardware. Primary school teachers and principals are most likely to report shortages in ICT hardware and software. Teachers at all levels surveyed report that the feedback they receive on their work mainly comes from the school principal or other teachers, and largely through classroom observation. The use of other monitoring methods varies, depending on the education level. Primary school teachers report the most positive impact from feedback, affecting their self-confidence, motivation and job satisfaction.