MetLife Teacher Survey Reveals Much Interest in Hybrid Teaching Roles, Greater Satisfaction in Collaborative Settings

With education reform continuing to make headlines and a planned overhaul of No Child Left Behind, the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Collaborating for Student Success series continues to offer important insights regarding the current state of the system. Part 3: Teaching as a Career, the final report from the study, includes the views of teachers and principals and examines collaboration in the context of professional growth and career paths.

According to the study, teachers are reporting significant changes in their profession. These changes come at a time when the teaching profession faces multiple challenges, including the retirement of teachers in the baby boom generation, economic pressures, and a greater emphasis on teacher quality and student achievement. To address these challenges, career pathways in education are changing, the role of the teacher is evolving, and collaboration is being emphasized as never before—and today’s educators are eager to have their voices heard.

The survey of teachers and principals was conducted by Harris Interactive® by telephone in October and November 2009. Major findings from this third report, being released today in conjunction with a forum by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, include:

Careers in teaching are changing.

  • Three-quarters of teachers (75%) say they would like to continue to work in education beyond traditional retirement from classroom teaching.
  • One-third of teachers (35%) report that they had a career outside of education before they became a classroom teacher.
  • Having “career changers” as colleagues is more common among secondary school teachers (89% vs. 73% of elementary school teachers) and teachers in schools with high proportions of low income students (82% vs. 72% of teachers in schools)

A “hybrid” teaching role—combining part-time classroom teaching with other roles in a school or district—has appeal.

  • More than half of teachers (56%) and half of principals (49%) say that some teachers in their school have a hybrid teaching role.
  • Nearly four in ten teachers (37%) say they are interested in such a hybrid role.
  • Hybrid teaching roles are particularly appealing to new teachers (46%) and those who are less than very satisfied with their current career (42%).

Collaboration may contribute to teacher satisfaction.

  • Teachers very satisfied with their careers are more likely to work in schools with higher levels of collaborative activities (39% vs. 26%) and to strongly agree that the teachers in a school share responsibility for the achievement of all students (86% vs. 72%).
  • Teachers who are very satisfied with their career are more likely to strongly agree that other teachers contribute to their success in the classroom (56% vs. 44%) and that the teachers, principals, and other school professionals at their school trust each other (59% vs. 40%).
  • They are also more likely than less satisfied teachers to report that a range of collaborative activities always occurs at their school, including that their school structures time for teachers to work together (40% vs. 26%).

During challenging economic times, teacher satisfaction remains high.

  • Six in ten teachers (59%) are very satisfied with teaching as a career—a level not significantly different than that of recent years, although a significant increase from the 40% “very satisfied” level reported in 1984, the first year of the Survey.
  • Nearly two in ten teachers (17%) today say they are very or fairly likely to leave the profession to go into a different occupation within the next five years, compared to 26% in 2006.

“Each year, the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher hears from those closest to the classroom about successes and opportunities, challenges, and potential solutions,” said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “All of us concerned about education need to actively listen and understand what our nation's educators are telling us about strengthening the teaching profession and serving the needs of all students.”

About the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Collaborating for Student Success
MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Collaborating for Student Success (2009) was conducted by Harris Interactive among a national sample of 1,003 public school teachers of grades K through 12, and 500 principals of grades K through 12, by telephone, and 1,018 public school students in grades 3 through 12 online between October 14 and November 13, 2009. The data were weighted to key demographic variables to align with the national population of the respective groups. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. In addition, an online strategy session was conducted on September 15, 2009 among a group of 25 public school teacher leaders, principals, and public education thought leaders to inform the development of the survey.

About MetLife
MetLife is a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the United States and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. It has demonstrated its belief in education and contributes to its improvement in part through the sponsorship of the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher series since 1984 to give voice to those closest to the classroom. MetLife Foundation places strong emphasis on education and draws on the findings of the Survey to inform its grantmaking. For more information about MetLife, please visit the company’s Web site at Additional information about the Foundation is available at

The reports for the entire series are now available online at with links to the ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) website:

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries and serves clients in over 215 countries and territories. For more information, please visit


Catherine Portman Topping
Ted Mitchell