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Online June 2010 | Volume 67
Good Teaching in Action

Special Report / MetLife Survey: Collaboration Improves Job Satisfaction

Deborah Perkins-Gough

Increased teacher collaboration has the potential to improve school climate and teacher career satisfaction, according to the most recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Collaborating for Student Success. Two-thirds of teachers who responded to the annual survey (67 percent) believe that increased collaboration among teachers and school leaders would greatly improve student achievement. The survey, which polled 1,003 K–12 teachers in fall 2009, also found that

  • Almost all teachers say that they engage in some type of collaborative activity with other educators at their school each week. On average, teachers spend 2.7 hours a week in structured collaboration with other teachers and school leaders; 24 percent of teachers spend more than three hours a week.
  • The most frequent types of collaborative activities are teachers meeting in teams to learn what is necessary to help their students achieve at higher levels, school leaders sharing responsibility with teachers to achieve school goals, and beginning teachers working with more experienced teachers.
  • The least frequent type of collaborative activity is teachers observing one another in the classroom and providing feedback. Fewer than one-third of teachers or principals report that this happens frequently at their school.
  • Respondents who say they are very satisfied with teaching as a career are more likely than teachers who are less satisfied to be strong proponents of shared responsibility and collaboration in schools. These highly satisfied teachers are more likely to strongly agree that the teachers in a school are responsibile for the achievement of all students (86 percent vs. 72 percent); that the teachers, principals, and other professionals at their own school trust one another (59 percent vs. 40 percent); and that their school provides regular time for teachers to work together (40 percent vs. 26 percent).
  • Teacher satisfaction may have reached a plateau. Fifty-nine percent of teachers in the current survey say that they are very satisfied with teaching as a career; this proportion has changed little since 2003. This leveling off follows a 20-year increase in satisfaction since the first MetLife Survey of the American Teacher in 1984, when only 40 percent said they were very satisfied.

As the baby boomers (who currently represent 55 percent of the total teaching force) reach retirement age, the new generation of teachers will expect even more collaboration, says the MetLife report. Teachers with five years of teaching experience or less are more likely than those with more than 20 years of experience to say that their success is linked to that of their colleagues (67 percent compared with 47 percent).

In developing policies to promote collaboration, policymakers should listen to the views of teachers. "Sharing these views is particularly important," says the report, "because 69 percent of teachers in this year's Survey do not believe that their voices have been adequately heard in the current debate on education."

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Collaborating for Student Success was released in early 2010 in three parts: (1) Effective Teaching and Leadership; (2) Student Achievement; and (3) Teaching as a Career. To view and download the survey results, go to

Deborah Perkins-Gough is senior editor of Educational Leadership;


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