KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County school teachers said they believe they don’t have enough autonomy in the classroom and don’t feel trusted enough to make sound professional decisions, according to a survey conducted by the school district.
“These survey results actually mirror what we think is closer to the truth,” Halls Elementary School teacher Lauren Hopson said. “A lot of the data that has been put out there in the past made it seem like teachers are really happy with what’s going on, and we’ve been saying for a long time that doesn’t sound right to us.”
According to the survey, 70 percent of teachers said they disagree or strongly disagree that they have autonomy in the classroom and 69 percent said they disagree or strongly disagree that they are trusted to make sound professional decisions about instruction in the classrooms.
“There was a little bit of a concern in terms of teachers feelings on instructional autonomy and their feeling and perception that they have somewhat limited autonomy instructionally in the classroom, so that’s something I really want to dig into to understand that perspective better,” Superintendent of Knox County Schools Dr. Jim McIntyre said. “What are the restraints and what are the constraints and what are the limitations that they’re feeling around instructional autonomy? I think one of the places where our teachers add the most value is in their creativity and their innovation in the classroom.”
There were positive responses concerning individual schools, with 78 percent of teachers saying their school is a good place to work and learn.
However, when it comes to the school district, there’s a less favorable perception, with 28 percent saying they feel the district is a good place to work and learn.
“Teachers who live in our community and have been here a long time love teaching at their schools, and I think that’s a lot different than how you’re dealing with an administration who, by and large, have come from the outside and are telling us different ways to do things,” Hopson said.
The survey showed that 61 percent of teachers said they believe they don’t have enough opportunities to offer input on the strategic direction of the school district.
Hopson said she felt some of the questions in the survey were flawed because it combined the school and district together in the question, saying she believes some teachers have different views on the school versus the overall district.
For example, one question is worded: “Teachers in my school/district are recognized as educational experts.”
When it comes to Common Core, teachers were just about split down the middle with 36 percent saying it is beneficial and 37 percent saying it does not serve a benefit.