This is the eighth session for Tuesday session I am blogging from the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education 2014 conference. The program details for this session were:
Factors Influencing Teacher Satisfaction at an Online Charter School
Jered Borup, George Mason University, United States
Mark Stevens, George Mason University, United States
Wednesday, March 19 2:15-2:45 PM in Grand Ballroom 2
The need for qualified teachers is increasing as teachers from the baby boom generation retire and student population grows. This need is especially heightened for online learning as student online enrollments grows rapidly. Not only does there need to be a greater effort to prepare online teachers, online schools should work to retain the qualified teachers that they have. This case study examined factors that influenced teacher satisfaction at an online charter high school. Analysis of 22 interviews from 11 teachers, identified five primary influences of teacher satisfaction: (1) flexibility, (2) support, (3) communication, (4) control and design, and (5) student performance.
I missed the first few minutes of Jered’s session, as I was running from room to room from the previous session. He was giving an overview of Mountain Heights Academy when I walked in and commented that one of the reasons that he selected this online charter school was because of the high level of interaction that occurred at this school.
The teaching staff were relatively junior, with an average of six years of teaching experience and most of the teachers being in their second year at the online charter (n=6) and the next largest group in their first year (n=4). In fact there was only one teacher that had been there for all three years the school was open.
The teachers were all extremely or very satisfied with teaching at Mountain Heights Academy (n=12/15). However, there was less satisfaction with students (extremely or very satisfied n=5) and parents (extremely or very satisfied n=7). It appears that the reasons the teachers were satisfied were due to: flexibility (e.g., could teach at home, could modify – or tweak – what they taught, etc.); support and success (e.g., teachers felt that student success appeared to be more closely related to student success, the school was small enough that teachers felt they could still have meaningful impacts, and the support provided by parents); and communication and community (e.g., enjoyed interacting with students, but missed the face-to-face connection).
Jered went through the downside of some of these issues that came out of the data, but my fingers weren’t quick enough to capture them all (particularly as I was dealing with some administrative work back in the office). His conclusions and implications included:
- set clear expectations for teachers
- teachers need help balancing work and life
- curriculum should be designed to allow for modifications
- provide teachers with
- time for personalized interactions
- regular in-service training
- tech support
- more research is needed in a variety of contexts