By Jessica Hubbuch, science teacher at The Howard School in Hamilton County
As a teacher in the Tennessee Teacher Ambassador Network, I have the great privilege of working with leaders at the Tennessee Department of Education. A constant theme at the department is the use of authentic teacher voice. In my role as Teacher Ambassador, I’ve worked closely with leaders on the data and research team to advise new initiatives, and I’ve found that leaders throughout the department look to the Tennessee Educator Survey to understand classroom teachers’ perspectives and experiences and then act on what they learn.
The survey, given since 2012, has provided valuable feedback from teachers on topics ranging from instructional materials and planning time to evaluation and standards. Responses from the 2017 survey revealed that teachers were not satisfied with the current quality of professional development, and in 2018, teachers indicated the desire for more and higher quality content-based support. As a result, the department launched summer training for our academic standards that included 7,000 teachers in science, math, and – for the first time ever – fine arts.
As a facilitator for the chemistry standards training, I was impressed by the immense effort that went into developing lessons that tightly align to the newly revised science standards. As the two-day professional development session culminated, several teachers reflected on feeling better prepared to increase the rigor of their instruction and also shift to a more student-centered environment. These sentiments were echoed across all content areas as teachers appreciated the concentrated effort to support high quality instruction. These summer trainings are just one example of how feedback from the survey informs practice at the state level. Other examples include the launch of Read to Be Ready and recommendations for changes to evaluation and assessment.
Each teacher in Tennessee should have received an email this week containing a link to the Tennessee Educator Survey. As in previous years, the survey is 100% confidential, and individual responses are never shared with school or district leadership in an identifiable manner. The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and will be open until April 19. You can read more about the survey here. If you don’t receive a link by Friday, March 8, please access the troubleshooting portal after checking your spam folder.
As a teacher myself, I implore all educators to carve out deliberate time to provide meaningful responses to the Tennessee Educator Survey. And please take time to encourage your colleagues to complete the survey and lift their voices and experiences to inform policy. As educators, we know the power of reflection and the need for thoughtful feedback. I am proud to work for a state that values our voices and provides opportunities such as this for teachers to provide feedback that informs the future of education and our continued state-wide growth.