The article is based on the materials of the 2019-2020 survey conducted in such subjects of the Russian Federation as Novgorod region, Altai territory and the city of Saint Petersburg, in order to analyze the process of teachers' job satisfaction in the education system. Along with professional well-being, examines the process of school teachers' readiness to change their profession and the factors influencing the formation of this attitude. Dwelling on the positive trends in the professional self-feeling of teachers, the author shows a group of factors that form a high degree of teacher dissatisfaction with work and form a desire to leave the profession in this part of teachers. It was found that for teachers wishing to leave the profession, the most significant factors of leaving the profession are bureaucratic reporting and dissatisfaction with wages. Separately, the article examines empirical data obtained from a survey of young school teachers who indicated their readiness to leave the profession. In identifying this group, the author proceeded from the fact that in a situation of “aging” of teaching staff, retaining young teachers in the education system is a strategic task. To confirm the obtained results, the paper uses a comparison with the data of monitoring studies carried out over the past five years by Russian analytical centers (Higher School of Economics, Center for Economics of Continuing Education, Institute of Education Management of the Russian Academy of Education), and materials of the International Research on Teaching and Training (Teaching and Learning International Survey-2018).
Research on teachers' job satisfaction and the desire of some teachers to leave the profession are relevant and largely interrelated topics, since job dissatisfaction and teacher turnover are factors that affect the learning process and the work of the entire school team of teachers. A highly professional teaching staff can be considered as the main resource in the further development of the school education system in Russia. The processes taking place within the teaching staff should become the subject of scientific research, since having independent dynamics; they are not fenced off from the phenomena of social reality. Underestimation of all these factors in the future can prevent the formation of an atmosphere of cooperation in schools and the achievement of high professional results.
Important parts of the school teaching corps is young teachers, who are in the early stages of their careers and, due to this objective factor, do not exclude the possibility of leaving the profession. Studies to determine the share of this group in the composition of young teachers in Russia, the factors that shape their willingness to leave the teaching profession, deserve special attention. This is especially important in a situation when the domestic labor market offers new career opportunities for young people in general.
All of the above actualizes research interest in the topic of teachers' professional self-determination and their desire to leave the education system, especially in those regions where the demographic situation is especially acutely affecting the staff of local municipal schools.
Teachers’ job satisfaction is one of the topics that constantly attract the interest in the social sciences, which is reflected in a number of scientific works and major monitoring studies (How working conditions change, 2017; Sobkin & Adamchuk, 2016). This interest is not accidental, since the attitudes of teachers in relation to work determine the culture of the school as a whole.
In domestic and foreign scientific literature, the satisfaction of teachers with their professional standing is considered from different positions. First, the subject of monitoring is usually to determine the level of teachers’ job satisfaction in general or job satisfaction in a particular school. For example, in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018, teachers were asked about job satisfaction in their schools. Interestingly, the share of Russian teachers who indicated that they were satisfied with their work at school was 91% (TALIS 2018 Part 1, 2019). This allowed the researchers to draw a conclusion about the predominance of a positive climate in Russian schools, and, consequently, about a positive school culture. On average, for the TALIS member countries (47 countries) this figure was 90%.
Second, researchers analyze factors influencing the dynamics of job satisfaction among school teachers (Konstantinovsky et al., 2019; Smith & Persson, 2016). Most often, these factors include:
- unequal position in wages and salaries of teachers;
- personal motives and involvement of teachers in the life of the school;
- conducting classes in non-core subjects;
- working conditions and management style on the part of the administration of educational institutions;
- the availability of peer support and the ability of teachers to choose appropriate teaching methods;
- bureaucratization of teacher work related to filling out reporting documentation and responses to requests from various departments, etc.
However, despite the large amount of work carried out, researchers still have a lack of information about which combination of factors actually affects the level of teacher satisfaction. For example, a number of studies have not found a link between professional well-being and the amount of salary, work experience and age of teachers, but there has been a link between professional well-being and teachers' expectations of students (Konstantinovsky et al., 2019). Other studies have noted a situation where a change in the analysis of a particular pay system (time-based or piece-rate) influenced the degree of teacher job satisfaction (Klyachko & Tokareva, 2017). In other cases the researchers were unable to establish a link between satisfaction with professional activity and the status of an educational institution, i.e. the percentage of teachers with a positive professional self-determination in terms of percentage coincided in schools of different status (Zasypkin et al., 2015). It is possible that such difficulties are associated with the fact that education is an open system influenced by many factors, the identification of which, in turn, is a difficult analytical task (Agranovich, 2017). However, there is no doubt that the examples described above once again confirm the ambiguity of the analysis about the influence of certain groups of factors on teacher satisfaction and the need for further detailed study of this issue.
Interest in the topic of teachers' job satisfaction is also actualized in connection with the problem of their leaving the profession. The conditions under which teachers leave work may have different grounds, however, researchers have found that one of the important parameters of teacher turnover is the following attitudes of teachers in relation to work and the profession in general: 1) job satisfaction, 2) desire to change profession (Wang et al., 2015). For the Russian Federation, the problem of retaining teaching staff in the profession became especially acute in the 90s of the 20th century, when new career opportunities began to appear on the labor market, and teachers' salaries became an unattractive factor in order to keep them in school.
It should be noted that the decline in the prestige of the teaching profession has affected most developed countries, and a way out of this global problem was found in the growth of public investment in the education system (Orekhova et al., 2018). In our country, the state also began to make efforts to keep teachers and especially young teachers in education; however, it has not yet been possible to radically change the situation with the aging of the teaching staff. Statistical data show that at the beginning of the 2019/2020 academic year, the share of young teachers (with less than 3 years of teaching experience) was 8%; the share of teachers with a teaching experience of 20 years or more is 56% (Klyachko et al., 2020). Thus, the profession is dominated by veterans, middle-aged teachers and there is a thin layer of young people, which allows researchers to make an assumption about the difficulties in transferring, developing and updating professional experience in the teaching environment as a whole (Osipov, 2018). Since demographic trends show that the demand for teachers in schools is growing, the topic of leaving the teaching profession will be heard more and more often, and will serve as an impetus for analytical research work on a national and regional scale. Undoubtedly, the regional aspect of teachers leaving the profession is becoming more and more relevant. So, if according to TALIS 2018 in the Russian Federation as a whole there is a low share of teachers who want to change their profession (12%), then at the level of individual regions their share can be higher and is recorded, for example, in the Vologda Oblast at 26% (Ilyin et al., 2017; TALIS 2018 Part 2, 2020). Thus, the regional specificity of teachers' job satisfaction, their involvement in school activities and the desire to change their profession should be in the focus of attention of researchers and the public due to the role that teachers play in regional education systems.
A separate problem for the education system of the Russian Federation is the departure of young teachers from the profession. Researchers draw attention to the empirical fact that there is an increasing tendency among young teachers not to perceive the chosen teaching profession as a career for a lifetime (Kulikova, 2018; Maslinsky & Ivaniushina, 2016). There is no doubt that such a desire on the part of young teachers only exacerbates the personnel situation in the Russian school system. Thus, the data of monitoring studies show that if among teachers aged 60 and over, 9% are considering the option of leaving the school system, then among teachers under 30 the share of this group is 7% (Klyachko et al., 2020). It seems that, given the weak growth in the share of young teachers in the total composition of the teaching corps, the desire of young teachers to leave the profession should to a certain extent be leveled out by measures of state support for young teachers. At the level of school collectives, especially where the renewal of the teaching corps is proceeding at relatively slow pace, targeted measures of specific managerial influence on the process to increase the effectiveness of support for young teachers should be developed. Thus, an analysis of modern research on the problem of teachers leaving the profession shows that it is not isolated from many processes in the education system, and therefore enhances the relevance of this topic.
The analysis of these problems forces us to seek answers to the following questions.
What is the level of job satisfaction for schoolteachers, and what are the differences in the answers of teachers from certain social groups to questions of job satisfaction?
What is the proportion of teachers expressing a willingness to leave the profession and the factors influencing the formation of this willingness?
What are the social factors influencing the attitudes of young teachers towards a career change?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this article is to analyze the professional well-being of teachers and their readiness to leave the profession, as well as to identify factors that increase the willingness of teachers to change jobs. The answers received from the respondents regarding the designated range of questions will be discussed in this article.
The article is based on the materials of the 2019/20 study conducted in Novgorod region, Altai territory and St. Petersburg within the framework of a research project of the Russian Science Foundation on the topic “Research of the state of information flows in the Russian education system and the possibilities of their optimization”.
The survey was conducted among school teachers. The answers to the questionnaire were received in the self-filling mode. Participation in the survey was voluntary.
The sample was formed by the method of two-stage stratification and was: in Novgorod region – 348 people, in Altai territory – 574 people, in St. Petersburg – 294 people.
At the first stage, schools with different characteristics were selected from individual municipalities of Novgorod region (including the regional center – Veliky Novgorod), at the second stage, for our sample we selected school teachers who are on the staff and have a teaching load.
When developing the questionnaire, authors used the author's design and experience of colleagues. The questionnaire included a block of questions about job satisfaction and its individual aspects, and a block of questions related to the desire to leave the profession. After collecting and rejecting part of the questionnaires, an electronic data array was formed, processed at Yaroslav-the-Wise Novgorod State University.
Teachers’ job satisfaction
The results of the study show that the share of teachers who like everything in their work is 22%, “rather satisfied with the job than not” are 53% of the respondents. The share of teachers who do not like everything in the education system was 20%. Thus, it can be seen that the majority of teachers give positive assessments of their work. It is interesting that the data described above are also formed when the respondents are broken down by territorial basis (urban and rural settlements). And although objectively schools in rural and urban settlements are in an unequal position in terms of resource management (human, financial, material and technical, etc.), this did not affect the respondents' answers. The tendency of almost complete absence of differences in satisfaction with education among rural and urban teachers was recorded in a study conducted in Stavropol territory, Voronezh region, Ivanovo region, Sverdlovsk region, and Chelyabinsk region, which was interpreted by the authors as a movement of the teaching corps towards its further transformation into middle class (Avraamova et al., 2017). In a study with the participation of the author, it was also found that there are practically no differences in the answers about job satisfaction among men and women.
At the same time, factors were identified that, to a greater extent than others, formed differences in job satisfaction among teachers, namely, such factors as:
- age of respondents: young teachers (up to 25 years old) and teachers up to 30 years old are less likely to choose negative answer options (18.5% and 15%, respectively) than in the group of 30–40 years old (25%) and 51–60 years old (24 %);
- regional differences: in St. Petersburg the share of those who are satisfied with their job is higher than in Novgorod region and the Altai territory (respectively, 84%, 73% and 71%) and the group of teachers who are dissatisfied with their job is smaller (Novgorod region –22%, Altai territory – 21%, St. Petersburg – 14%).
Within the framework of the survey, the dynamics of teachers' satisfaction with certain aspects of their professional activity was studied (Table 01).
As follows from the survey data, the greatest satisfaction is associated with professional communication and work schedule. The highest job dissatisfaction for teachers is associated with document flow and material incentives. The high dissatisfaction of teachers in the last two positions (material incentives and workloads associated with document circulation) is also noted in a number of other studies (How working conditions change, 2017). It should be noted that the growth of negative over positive assessments in teachers' answers to questions about wages has been increasingly recorded in studies since 2016 (Klyachko & Tokareva, 2017). The emphasis by teachers in assessing their job satisfaction of such a factor as the growth of document circulation in the education system has been analyzed in detail in the latest works. Along with the growth of paper reporting, the answers of the majority of teachers surveyed also consider such a factor as weak material incentives for teachers (Osipov, 2020; Osipov et al., 2020).
Willingness of teachers to leave the profession
Our data show that the topic of disillusionment in choosing a profession is inherent in certain groups of teachers. When asked if there are plans to leave the education system in the near future, 10% of respondents answered that they plan and consider this issue solved for themselves, 12% answered that they would like to leave school and are looking for options for future work. Together, this group is gaining 23%, which, for example, practically coincides with the data for Vologda region, where the share of teachers wishing to leave the education system is 26% (Ilyin et al., 2017). According to international studies, 21% of teachers express their desire to leave the education system, which is recognized as one of the risks for the education systems of various countries (TALIS 2018 Part 2, 2020).
The option of leaving the system of education and/or finding another job is considered both by respondents satisfied with their job in the education system and those who are not satisfied with this job (Table 02).
From the data in Table 02 it follows that:
- among teachers who are satisfied with their work, slightly more than half (53%) do not plan to leave the education system;
- among teachers with a low degree of job satisfaction, only every fifth (21)% does not want to leave education, and slightly more than a third (36%) plan or do not exclude leaving the education system for themselves.
Thus, dissatisfaction with work at school can be the basis for the formation of a desire to change jobs.
There are plans to leave the education system in each age group of teachers surveyed, including in the group of young teachers (23% in the group of teachers under 25), which, if this “scenario” is possible, by the respondents of this group will actually lead to even greater “aging” of teaching staff in schools. According to our monitoring, it is also clear that among young teachers (under 25) compared to other age groups, the proportion of those who chose the option “do not plan to leave the education system” is the smallest. Therefore, if in the group under 25 years old, the share of such respondents is 31%, then in the group 31–40 years old – 48%, in the group 41–50 years old – 50%. The study revealed another alarming fact for the education system, which is associated with young teachers, and that among them there are more than in other age groups who have not decided on the answer to the question about plans to leave the system education (46%). That is, almost half of teachers under 25, when answering this question, do not inform about their plans, which means that beyond the boundaries of our monitoring there are answers to questions about what part of them and when will leave the education system.
In any case, the revealed tendencies reflect the alarming trends for the Russian education system that create instability in the teaching environment and, therefore, require further careful analysis and prompt managerial response.
The article provides data that show the professional community of teachers as a set of groups, with a certain specificity inherent in them in the field of professional self-feeling. Some groups show a high degree of job satisfaction and a desire to continue working in the education system. For other groups (23% of all teachers), a desire to leave the education system and a high degree of dissatisfaction with their work were revealed. The results of the analysis allow us to make the assumption that a high degree of dissatisfaction with work can be considered as the initial phase of the process of leaving the education system, that is, there is a connection between the formation of readiness to leave the profession and dissatisfaction with work in the education system.
The negative aspects of the professional well-being of teachers are largely associated with two factors in their work: dissatisfaction with salaries and high workloads in the field of documentary reporting. Almost all the interviewed teachers from three regions of Russia point out these reasons, as the main ones in their professional activities, which, with a high degree of probability, allows us to speak about the influence of these factors on teachers from other regions of the country.
The work confirms the data of domestic and international studies on the negative impact of bureaucratic control on the appearance of a desire to leave the profession among a significant part of young teachers, which objectively carries risks for maintaining a positive professional identity of teachers and reducing the reform potential of the school education system.
The data obtained in the course of the study indicate that in order to analyze the professional well-being of teachers, the developed tools need to be improved, for example, it is necessary to clarify the block of indicators that help to assess the degree of influence of environmental factors on the professional well-being of respondents. Undoubtedly, the development and application of these indicators is possible only with the proof of their positive correlation with those already used.
The article was prepared within the framework of the Russian Science Foundation grant 18-18-00047 “Research of the state of information flows in the Russian education system and the possibilities of their optimization”.
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15 July 2021
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Globalization, digital education, leadership, challenges of the time, оn-line pedagogy, universal and national values
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Matveev, V. (2021). Teachers’ Job Satisfaction And Desire To Leave The Profession. In A. G. Shirin, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, E. Y. Ignateva, & N. A. Shaydorova (Eds.), Education in a Changing World: Global Challenges and National Priorities, vol 114. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 627-635). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.07.02.75