Preliminary Data from ESL Teaching Survey
For the past two months, friends, colleagues and readers of ESL MiniConference Online have been visiting our autumn survey to answer several questions about workplace dynamics. The initial results are as follows.
37 percent of the respondents so far have been ESL administrators; 50 percent, ESL teachers; 13 percent teachers in training. Survey participants are from a wide range of institutions, including community colleges, elementary schools, secondary schools, adult ESL programs and universities, from California, Minnesota, New Jersey and Maryland, among others. Some survey respondents followed links to the survey. Half of them were invited directly through ESL MiniConference e-mail newsletters. Others were referred to our survey by colleagues.
On the first question, "When I need help figuring a teaching problem, I first ______," 75 percent of respondents selected the first option, "...ask fellow teachers at my school for their advice." Another 13 percent chose the second option, "...do research in the library and on the Internet." And another 12 percent said they "ask someone in administration at our school for help."
In response to the second question, "My relationship with the ESL staff at my school is _________," 87 percent of all survey participants said, "...friendly, though we don't see each other much outside of work." 13 percent said their relationships at work are "businesslike and strictly professional." So far, no one has described their relationship with peers at work as "very friendly, in fact we often get together informally for fun."
Question number three asks how much autonomy teachers at the participant schools exercise. So far, no one has reported "little or no" autonomy. 37 percent of respondents report "some" autonomy. And 63 percent say teachers at their school generally exercise "a great deal of" autonomy.
ESL teachers who have filled out our online survey unanimously reported that they go first to their fellow teachers when dealing with a difficult teaching problem. ESL administrators were evenly split among the three options: 33.3 percent said they go to fellow teachers; 33.3 percent go to the library and Internet; 33.3 percent ask someone in the school administration for help.
There is an interesting difference between ESL teachers and administrators regarding the general level of autonomy exercised by teachers at each school. While 75 percent of teachers report exercising "a great deal of" autonomy, 67 percent of administrators say their teachers only exercise "some" autonomy. These differing perceptions may hold some of the answers to how to enhance ESL workplace dynamics.
If you haven't yet taken our survey, please do so at your earliest convenience. Final results will be published in the January 2002 edition of ESL MiniConference Online.
Reported by Robb Scott