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An annual survey notes that while teachers don't feel great about their profession, they do have positive views of classroom edtech.

Teachers say edtech hasn’t reached its full potential

An annual survey notes that while teachers don't feel great about their profession, they do have positive views of classroom edtech

Despite overall low levels of teacher optimism, educators across the country agree that edtech helps their instructional strategies and has much more potential in the classroom.

The fifth annual Educator Confidence Report, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and YouGov, explores teacher sentiment across a broad range of topics and includes responses from more than 1,300 teachers and administrators.

Related content: 5 takeaways about the state of edtech

Surveyed teachers are optimistic about the use of edtech. Seventy-two percent of teachers report using edtech every day, and nearly all teachers (95 percent) have experienced benefits from using edtech.

Most teachers (82 percent) agree that technology has empowered them to strengthen their teaching practice in ways they would otherwise not be able to do, including helping to close equity gaps through more personalized instruction.

Teachers agree that technology should be used to expand teacher capacity. When it comes to the role of technology in the classroom, 83 percent of teachers agree that technology should be used to extend and expand teacher capacity, and many (78 percent) agree that edtech’s potential has yet to be fully realized. And while technology can be a beneficial tool in the classroom, 95 percent of educators believe the human connection between a teacher and student is the most important element in the learning landscape.

Teacher optimism has decreased for the first time since 2015. Overall, teacher optimism decreased to 34 percent–down 15 percentage points since 2018.

In this year’s report, HMH introduced the inaugural Educator Confidence Index, a new score to serve as the “pulse point” on teacher confidence. The 2019 Educator Confidence Index indicates that teachers don’t give the state of their profession a passing grade, with an overall score of 43 out of 100.

Top concerns span issues such as the increasing social-emotional needs of students, low salaries, and a lack of funding. As a wave of teacher activism took hold this year with strikes across the country, the Index reflects the complicated reality of the teaching profession.

“The significant decrease in optimism this year shows that the mounting pressures put on teachers have reached a tipping point. It’s critical that we listen to and address their concerns to ensure educators are fulfilled and optimistic about the future, which will ultimately result in better outcomes for students,” says Jack Lynch, CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Regardless of circumstance, educators agree that addressing the social-emotional needs of students is a top concern. A vast majority (96 percent) report that they find students increasingly need more social emotional support, with three-quarters of educators noting these increased needs as a leading concern. These attitudes may be heightened by the lack of holistic, integrated SEL programs: 67 percent of teachers said they don’t have an SEL initiative at their school, or are unsure if they do.

When looking through the lens of high-poverty educators, the results highlight different areas of concern including salaries and funding. As noted, teachers in high-poverty schools are less optimistic and cite greater concerns than their counterparts in low-poverty schools. While high- and low-poverty schools are equally concerned about SEL needs, high-poverty educators are more concerned with low salaries, lack of funding, meeting the requirements of standardized state assessments and inequity in K-12 school systems.

“The teacher is at the core of everything we do at HMH, and supporting their relationship with students is our priority,” adds Lynch. “Having this data informs how we can continue to innovate and bring new solutions into the classroom to empower our teachers and improve student outcomes for all learners.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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