Academic journal article College Student Journal

Teacher Perceptions of Levels of Professional Contribution to the School

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Teacher Perceptions of Levels of Professional Contribution to the School

Article excerpt

Teachers enrolled in graduate level coursework at Wright State University, in Dayton, Ohio were surveyed as to their perception of the extent of faculty involvement and professional contribution in their school. Teachers and educators that were administrators were the focus of the study. Professional contribution levels were defined for the participants. An analysis of the survey results indicated that levels of contribution fluctuated. Variables affecting contribution levels included, but were not limited to political climate, self-perception, morale, leadership style, knowledge base, teamwork, and having a definite purpose or mission. Seventy teachers were involved in the study, working full-time, with the majority being females working in public elementary schools in rural, suburban, and city school systems in Ohio.

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Research focusing on faculty member involvement and professional contribution to the workplace is limited. The research that is available suggests significant professional contribution to the school reflects growth in student learning, and ongoing growth for educators. Professional contribution is likened to collaborative leadership, whether formal or informal, and can extend peer learning. As Donaldson (2001) states, "Leadership is relational, not an individual phenomenon." Reaching our potential reflects every educator's ability to contribute in a manner that strengthens and enhances the school and school district (Roby, 2008, 2003).

Block (1996), in his classic text, Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self-Interest, tells us the antidote to self-interest is to commit and find a cause. The deeper meaning of service necessitates creating something we care about so we can tolerate the sacrifice and risk that commitment entails. Sergiovanni (1999) believes that commitment is a quality in teachers that can be linked to gains in student achievement. "When the need and purpose is in the school, when the conditions are right, adults and students alike learn, and each energize and contribute to the learning of each other", states Barth (1990).

The importance of significant, professional contribution to the school by educators cannot be ignored. Barth (1990) reminds us that when we stop growing, so do those we educate, as well as those we work with in our schools. Donaldson (2001) and Lambert (1998) note that schools are likely to have many leaders with no formal title that have the potential to contribute greatly. Lieberman and Miller (2005) state that in some school districts teachers assume responsibility for the learning of students and colleagues, and this form of contribution is crucial to higher-level expectations and effectiveness.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to determine the level of contribution of teachers in the workplace. Those involved in the study reviewed the different levels of contribution for understanding, as determined by the professor, who created a survey to collect data. For the purpose of this study, the levels of contribution were defined as follows.

The lowest level of contribution was termed non-contributor. Those operating at this level were categorized as tending to be either unsatisfied or satisfied with the status quo, and typically were considered followers at all times and in all aspects of the school culture. Characteristics included being apathetic, reclusive, and insecure. Those operating at this level relied on mostly extrinsic rewards, and were most often reactive to what was happening in their school or district. Even though some operating at this level may care about their school environment, their interest level appeared to be too low being effective. Day to day, black and white endeavors typically seemed to be the non-contributors focus.

Part-time contributors were defined as those educators that generally operate as followers, and usually being reactive in nature, as with the non-contributors. …

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