A set of skills required to be an effective teacher is comprehensive and complex. In addition to being highly knowledgeable about their subject and how to teach it, teachers are also expected to be experts in child development, classroom management, administration, and even psychology and to update their knowledge throughout their career. Therefore, teaching is called a “profession” and not merely a “job.” Likewise, the expectations of school leaders have gone beyond their traditional administrative roles to include team leadership, training, networking, and effective communication with parents and other stakeholders. But the “professionalism” of teachers and school leaders varies across countries and contexts, and can be influenced by both policies and the behavior of teachers and school leaders.

Teachers’ professionalism is analyzed in TALIS 2018 according to five main indicators: knowledge and skills required for teaching; career opportunities and work regulations; a culture of collaboration among teachers; teachers’ responsibility and autonomy; status of the teaching profession. The second volume of the report entitled “Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals” reviews prestige, career opportunities, collaboration and autonomy.

Career prestige and social status can affect both the selection of candidates for teaching education and the satisfaction of those who are already working as teachers. The majority of teachers in OECD countries and regions who have participated in TALIS (90%) are satisfied with their jobs, and most of them (91%) do not regret becoming teachers.

Despite it, on average, only 26% of teachers in OECD countries and regions participating in TALIS believe that their work is valued by society. Experienced teachers are more likely than their younger peers to say that their profession is underestimated, indicating some degree of frustration with professional work as teachers move up the career ladder. Moreover, 14% of teachers aged 50 and under express a desire to quit teaching within the next five years well before reaching retirement age.

Acute job-related stress is also closely related to teachers’ job satisfaction and their intention to continue teaching: 18% of teachers report feeling stressed at work, and 49% report that too many administrative tasks are a major source of stress.

Most teachers in OECD countries and economies work at TALIS under permanent contracts, and only 18% indicated that their employment contracts are temporary. But that figure rises to 48% for teachers under the age of 30. Although temporary employment contracts offer some flexibility, teachers with a service less than one year under the contract also report feeling less confident in their ability to teach in about one third of the participating countries.

As far as salaries are concerned,  on average across OECD countries and regions 39% of teachers and 47% of school leaders are satisfied with their salaries. The association between the attestation and career advancement in the form of pay increases or bonuses is not particularly common: on average, only 41% of teachers report this happening in their school. However, the share of teachers working in schools where it is relevant has increased significantly since the last TALIS cycle and is occuring in more than half of the participating countries and regions. Moreover, this practice is relevant when the school management staff has some authority over teachers’ salaries.

Teachers who report that their school provides staff with an opportunity to actively participate in school decision-making and supports their professional development are more likely to argue that they are satisfied with the terms of their employment contract (excluding wages).

A community of practitioners who regularly collaborate with each other is of particular importance to many professions. Professional collaboration can take the form of team learning, feedback provided based on classroom observations and collaborative activities in different classes and professional development. OECD teachers often rely on basic collaboration methods, such as discussing student development with peers (61% of teachers on average) and, to a lesser extent, sharing teaching materials with peers (47%). However, far fewer teachers engage in deeper forms of professional collaboration which involve greater interdependence between teachers, and only 9% of teachers argued they provide observational feedback to colleagues, and 21% participate in joint vocational training at least once a month.

Rare deeper professional collaboration may cause anxiety given the impact that collaboration can have on advancing 21st century teaching: teachers who regularly collaborate with their peers are more likely to report using cognitive activation practices in the classroom. Professional collaboration is also associated with higher levels of job satisfaction and teacher confidence in their own competence.

Peer feedback is a unique form of collaboration in which teachers are a major focus of interest as experts in their own practice. On average across OECD countries, 71% of teachers who received peer review found it useful for their learning. Feedback is most effective for teachers when it is provided in a variety of ways, not just one repetitive method.

Classroom teaching practices are left to the teacher’s discretion: more than 90% of teachers say they choose their own teaching methods, evaluate student learning, discipline students and set the amount of homework. However, determining overall course content is less likely to be a teacher’s responsibility, and only 84% of teachers report having limited control over it.

More efforts should be made to involve teachers in the decision-making processes of their schools. On average across OECD countries and economies in TALIS, only 56% of school leaders report that teachers are involved in school management. In addition, only 42% of school leaders report that their teachers have significant responsibility for most of the tasks related to school policy, curriculum and instruction. Teachers also have little responsibility for staffing and budget; but the budget allocation is still under school control, with 68% of school leaders reporting that schools have significant responsibilities in this area.



OECD (2020), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume II): Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/19cf08df-en.

Link to Part 2


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