A recent survey conducted by Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) on teachers' job satisfaction in Abu Dhabi Schools showed a satisfaction index in public schools of 77.7% while in private schools, it reached 78.9. It also showed more satisfaction among male teachers than on their female colleagues' side. On the other hand, highly qualified teachers were less satisfied than those with lower qualifications.
The results also revealed the level of job satisfaction increases as the teachers are older, and that the KG and Cycle 1 teachers recorded more satisfaction than their colleagues teaching higher grade levels.
According to the survey, the most satisfied are the mathematics and chemistry teachers, then Arabic and physics teachers, followed by English, Science and Islamic studies. The IT teachers appear at the bottom of the satisfaction scale among teachers, but in general the results were relatively high and reflected the psychological impression of the teachers regarding a number of factors, including the school duty, the school environment and loyalty to the school and the job.
Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director General of ADEC, acknowledged that the objective behind launching such surveys is to identify all challenges that might face our schools from the teacher's point of view, as he/she is the main component of the process of educating and raising the children because the teacher is perfectly aware of all aspects of education at school, and this will help the Council develop plans, strategies and initiatives in order to handle those challenges the best way possible.
He said: "These surveys are used to observe and monitor the situation on the ground with objectivity, and if they show areas of strength, they will be disseminated, whereas the weaknesses will be addressed by developing adequate plans, in all cases; it's very important to have a stable and permanent system of Quality Control that is based on the feedback of the men and women on the ground, particularly the teachers".
During a meeting of the Council's higher management board held to discuss the survey outcomes, he pointed that the Council is currently preparing a detailed report of the results and that a number of committees were formed to study the various aspects of those results, especially those that represent real challenges to the school system and teachers in Abu Dhabi. He also pointed that the Council will develop specific regulations for the Private Schools in order to improve the teacher's status in Abu Dhabi. The general report will include all different initiatives that the Council would be developing and implementing in the future.
He noted that this survey is a preliminary stage in the Council's endeavors to upgrade the teacher's profile and prestige within the community and thus taking courageous decisions based on real results which the culture the Council take pride in. This survey comes as part of the UAE's participation in the TALIS global project conducted by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in order to examine the teachers' situation in the world and prepare the necessary research studies to meet the various challenges. The TALIS project, which will be completed in 2013, will shed the light on the teacher's exact situation in Abu Dhabi compared to other countries.
In June and July, 2011, 5022 teachers (from both genders), from private and public schools participated by filling in the survey on the ADEC web portal.
The ten-minute questionnaire included 12 aspects of the teacher's life, in the classroom as well as within the school environment. The statistics indicate that 63% of the responses were from female teachers and 15% was the highest score recorded by the Grade 12 female teachers. All school stages were represented, from KG to Grade 12. Most responses were from public school teachers, while the participation of private school teachers was limited to 20%. Teachers of the main subjects of English, Arabic and Mathematics had the highest participation rate, while the geology and science teachers were at the bottom of the participation scale. The results also indicate the regional rate variations as follows: Abu Dhabi comes first with 46%, then Al Ain 40%, followed by the Western Region by 14%.
While the first topic of the survey was the overall job satisfaction, the second included six components related to the teacher's salary and as predicted, the levels of satisfaction were relatively low, in both public and private sectors, with 31.9 in the public sector and 43.8 in the private sector. Those levels are indeed relatively low considered that the teachers' salaries in Abu Dhabi are higher than in neighboring or developed countries. We should also mention the fact that there is a general feeling in Abu Dhabi context and an important expected pay structure change which affected the teachers' responses especially with the current comprehensive development of the educational system which led to higher expectations for teachers.
The second topic investigated the level of satisfaction with the teaching profession itself and the index was relatively high, indicating that teachers have special loyalty to this noble occupation in both private and public sectors, as 76.6% of Abu Dhabi School Teachers were satisfied with what they do, and there were five indicators pertaining to the choice of this profession, the life expectations, being contented as a teacher, the general environment and the love and passion for the job.
The third topic was the description of the teacher's general feeling during school time and daily duty exercise, in the classroom or in the internal school environment. Each teacher expressed the extent of the presence of such a feeling during the last two weeks of school. The teacher's were given certain phrases to use for expression, these expressions represented "power, pride, care, fun, passion, persistence, activity, and so on. The grades given were quite high in both sectors. The topic also included 10 different qualities one can feel while carrying out his daily duties, and the private school teachers recorded a higher satisfaction level for this indicator: 78.3%, the public school teachers were second with 76.8%. The highest satisfaction level (81.5%) was reached by the qualifier "persistent, serious and old", while the lowest was for the qualifier "fun" with 71.7%.
The fourth topic was the accomplishment by the teacher of progress and development towards the professional goals he/she set for the current academic year. It included 5 component related to achieving these goals and if they were achieved before, the productivity level as a teacher and the degree of satisfaction of his/her own achievements and his overall progress and development towards these goals in general. The public school teachers had high levels in this indicator with 86.9% while the private school teachers reached 84.5%, and these levels are considered relatively high.
The fifth topic what the teacher's self-assessment of personal abilities to achieve professional goals set by self, and included four main components. The public school teachers' indicator for this topic reached 94.9%, while it was 93.3% in the private schools, which indicates that teachers in both public and private sectors are confident they are able to achieve the goals they set for themselves, the sub-components of this topic covered qualities such as personal ability, personal knowledge to achieve these goals and certainty to reach them.
The sixth topic was about how much support the school provides in achieving these professional goals, meaning the support received from colleagues within the school or from supervisors and administrative staff and it would take the form of these individual behaviors and willingness / ability to provide that support. The general indicator for public school teachers reached 75.1% against 79.6% in the private sector. The detailed results for this topic indicate lower support levels coming from the administrative staff in both public and private schools, while a greater level of support originates from fellow teachers in the school.
The seventh topic reflects a comprehensive teacher's self assessment of his own teaching abilities and use of different teaching strategies, as each teacher is asked to grade himself in 12 rubrics representing each a personal ability, such as using various student assessment strategies, the ability to explain in different ways for students who are struggling to understand the lesson, the class management ability, help students to gain self confidence, motivate them and encourage them value education and knowledge, assist parents and family in general in helping their children. The results show that the ability to explain in different ways is highly rated with 94.2% for public schools and 93.6% for private schools. They also indicate a low rating for the home and parent assistance ability indicator with 86% in both private and public sectors.
Although these figures are relatively high, they need to be considered as they are low compared to the other indicators in this key topic.
The eighth topic involves the teacher's awareness of the personal potential and qualifications to achieve his professional tasks in particular. These tasks are associated with the job he is meant to conduct as a teacher requiring self-confidence, expected ability improvement, comparing himself to others in terms of abilities and self assessment in terms of teaching skills and experience in the field of education - and as expected, the public schools gave the highest rating to the "self-confidence in performing their job as teachers", with 97%, while the private schools rated this indicator with 96.8%. It is notable that both sides had the same hesitation reaction when asked to compare themselves to other teachers, and the indicator's rating was 86.2% for public schools and 83.4% for the private schools.
The ninth topic is linked to the evaluation of the level of coherence between the educational system they work in general, and the rating was relatively low. The components of this topic were related to how much this profession helps to achieve the other aspirations in the teacher's life, his/her expectations, wishes and the amount of time this would take, as well as if the values and culture of the trade are in line with the personal culture and customs. The public school indicator for this rubric was 82.1%, while it was 71.8% in the private schools. It is worth mentioning that the lowest grades were given to how much this profession meets all expectations as a means of living, while both private and public school teachers agreed to give the highest rating to the coherence between their own values and the values preached by the educational system in place.
The tenth topic reflected the school environment and the feeling of an existing moral and psychological support from school to the teacher. The rubrics included for instance, the school taking pride in the achievements and successes of teachers, recognition of the teacher's contributions, praising the teacher's extra-efforts, the school showing sympathy, refraining from exploiting the teacher, the presence of motivation and encouragement factors in school, matching between the objectives and priorities of the teacher and the school and how much the school cares about the teacher. This indicator was 69.9% for public schools and 63.9% in private schools; these indicators are relatively low, especially in private schools.
The eleventh topic included elements related to students' behavior in the classroom and the school. Focus was on the students behaviors of "being noisy", "carless", "bullying", "violence", "causing trouble to other students". The results indicate that public school teachers think that the "careless" type of behavior is one of the most dangerous school behaviors that needs to be taken care of, as the indicator reached 76.3% in public schools and 67.3% in private schools, which means that it has a wider presence in the public schools.
The 12th and last topic included rubrics measuring the extent of independence of the teacher, either in the classroom or inside school in general, such as in selecting students' activities, problem solving inside the classroom, scheduling and planning lessons, setting classroom standards, time planning, choosing alternative methods of teaching, using the class time and creative teaching media adn testing various teaching strategies. The results indicate that the teacher is more independent in the public schools as the indicator reached 85%, while it was 83.7% in the private schools. The area that recorded the highest level of teacher independence was the "use of alternative teaching media" while the lowest level was found in the area of "solving classroom and school problems".
Pr. Massaoud Badri, Director of the Research Unit at ADEC noted that there is a remarkable progress in both areas of teachers' care about the profession and the quality of Education in Abu Dhabi, which was proved by the increased number of participant in the survey which was out in 2009 for the same purpose but only 1400 teachers participated then, while the number went up to exceed 5000 participants in the 2011 survey. He pointed that the Council will put out the same survey again in May 2012 to verify the success of the various initiatives related to the teaching profession in both private and public sectors.
He also noted that the survey, with its topics and rubrics, adopted a professional satisfaction educational theory, and the components were developed to suit the general environment of Abu Dhabi Schools, the same theory was used for a potential comparison between Abu Dhabi teachers job satisfaction indicators with their colleagues in other countries that applied this survey, like Italy, the US, Korea, Singapore, the UK and Australia.