According to a new report by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change, teachers work with peers, parents and caregivers in a variety of ways to help ensure student success.

The survey of more than 20,000 teachers in PreK through grade 12 nationwide, conducted online in July 2013, shows that 90% of teachers believe that having an interest in students’ lives inside and outside of school is either extremely or very important to being a great teacher.

Recognizing the value of a strong home-school connection, nearly all teachers (95%) say that they encourage parents to reach out to them, and 85% say that they initiate contact with parents beyond traditional progress reports.

“Much of student success comes from having supportive and actively involved parents or guardians,” said one elementary school teacher.

Collaborating With Colleagues

Teachers also consider professional collaboration to be critical to their success in the classroom. They cite several ways in which they share ideas, including:

  • exchanging resources and lesson plans (76%)
  • learning from each other’s successes and challenges (68%)
  • reviewing student data (66%), and
  • planning units of study across subject areas (52%).

“My colleagues’ experience is my greatest resource,” said one middle school teacher.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of teachers say that they don’t have enough time to collaborate with colleagues, making this the second most-cited challenge in their daily work behind “constantly changing demands.”

Use of technology beyond the school day, however, has extended teachers’ ability to collaborate and share resources. Nine in ten (91%) teachers report using websites to find or share lesson plans. Teachers are also using technology to get professional advice and support (65%) and to collaborate with teachers with whom they wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity (57%).

“Technology allows me to bring the world to my classroom in a way I couldn’t before,” said one middle school teacher. “It allows my students to communicate their great work to the world outside our classroom in a way that wasn’t possible.”

In response to the survey, Francie Alexander, Scholastic’s Chief Academic Officer, said: “Teachers are taking in a wealth of information about how children learn best, ensuring that this generation does have greater opportunities than the one before it.”

About Primary Sources

A new survey, Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change, reflects the views of more than 20,000 public school teachers in Pre-K through grade 12 nationwide.

A joint project of Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report delves into the challenges and rewards of the teaching profession; teachers’ views about the Common Core State Standards; the desire for feedback that is fair and ensures professional growth; and how teachers use technology to collaborate with peers. 

Download the complete Primary Sources report here.