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Teachers offered insight on AI in the classroom, with many saying it is inevitable and that they'd like to receive PD around its integration

For educators, a brighter outlook on confidence and classroom AI

Educators offered insights on AI in the classroom, with many saying they believe it is inevitable and that they'd like to receive PD around its integration

Key points:

Teachers have expressed “cautious optimism” around the use of generative AI in K-12 classrooms, and many more plan to integrate AI tools into their instruction this school year, according to part one of the 2023 Educator Confidence Report from learning technology company HMH

Outlook on Teaching and AI, the first of three focused reports to be released over the course of the back-to-school season, found an improvement in both educator confidence in the K-12 education industry and sentiment toward the state of the teaching profession, offering some early signs of stabilization. The Educator Confidence Report series reveals findings from HMH’s annual barometer for how educators in schools across the country are feeling about the state of teaching and learning.

In a special section dedicated to new technology, teachers expressed cautious optimism regarding the use of generative AI in K-12 classrooms. While only 10 percent of educators reported using generative AI in their classrooms during the 2022-23 school, 38 percent expect to adopt AI tools in the upcoming 2023-24 year and 57 percent feel that AI tools should be harnessed positively. 

State of the profession: Signs of hope

This year, the report’s Educator Confidence Index, a measure of overall confidence (out of 100), increased slightly to 42.0 from 40.0 in 2022, showing a small improvement from last year – a hopeful sign of potential stabilization following what has been a challenging period for educators.

While many educators still feel negatively about the profession coming out of the pandemic, optimism is growing in key areas. Post-pandemic, educators identified several bright spots, including the use of digital platforms to improve student engagement (31 percent in 2023 v. 14 percent in 2019) and increased attention to the social and emotional needs of students (50 percent in 2023 v. 33 percent in 2019).

Educators feel there is more to be done to improve the profession; such improvements include raising salaries and continuing to support both student and teacher well-being. These areas will be explored in more detail in subsequent reports to be released by HMH this fall.  

A spotlight on generative AI: Cautious optimism

With generative AI emerging throughout all areas of society as a potentially disruptive force, this first report dives deeper into educator sentiment toward the tool. Although edtech has become the norm in classrooms across the country, generative AI presents a new and unfamiliar landscape for many.

In fact, less than 20 percent of educators say they feel equipped to use tools like ChatGPT in their classroom or school. However, more than half of the educators surveyed (57 percent) agreed that generative AI is inevitable and should be harnessed positively in the classroom, with students taught to use the tools ethically. More than half (58 percent) of educators noted that they would be interested in professional development and coaching around classroom AI.

While the majority of educators (90 percent) are not yet actively integrating AI in their classrooms, the early adopters of AI (10 percent) are eager for more. For those who did use it, 74 percent said they expect to increase usage this coming school year. And 41 percent of all educators agreed that AI tools had potential to be used as personalized tutors for students. 

Finally, although responses around how helpful AI-generated content is as part of curriculum specifically were mixed, there was interest in AI as a support for educator workflow. When asked for which activities AI-generated content could accelerate achievement, 51 percent said AI could support worksheet creation, 48 percent noted assistance with lesson plans and 41 percent said ideating on writing prompts.

“It’s encouraging to see that educators are beginning to transition out of survival mode and toward regaining confidence in their profession. We hope that last year was the low point, and that we are turning the corner,” said Francie Alexander, Senior Vice president, Research at HMH. “Connection has always been key for educators, and we will continue to focus on helping teachers collaborate with one another and strengthen relationships between themselves and their students’ families.”

This fall, HMH will release Part 2 and Part 3 of the Educator Confidence Report to further expand upon educators’ thoughts on key topics impacting the profession. Download the full Part 1: Outlook on Teaching & AI report here.

“As we embark on a new school year, we are entering an exciting and pivotal moment in the evolution of edtech,” said Jack Lynch, CEO, HMH. “As educator confidence rises, I am heartened to see that teachers are eager to learn more about generative AI’s potential and to harness its benefits. At HMH, we remain focused on applying technology with purpose to save educators time and create more space for the human connections that accelerate learning outcomes.” 

Research was conducted between May and June of 2023 in partnership with MarketCast and surveyed 1,000 K-12 classroom teachers and 200+ administrators.

This press release originally appeared online.

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