Much has happened in the world of K-12 education since our last survey of Teachers in early Fall 2022. Legislative sessions brought universal school choice to families in more states than ever before. New technology is becoming more prevalent, with artificial intelligence (AI) specifically slowly starting to find its way into classrooms around the country, reigniting debates about the overall purpose of education. Safety in schools, unfortunately, has been under the microscope once again after the tragedy in Nashville, TN in March.
How have teachers adapted to this ever-changing landscape? How are teachers feeling today compared to how they felt at the beginning of the school year? To better understand the current perspectives and opinions of teachers, EdChoice, in partnership with Morning Consult, surveyed a national sample of K-12 educators (N=961) from April 26-May 6, 2023.
In this twelfth installment of the survey, teachers shared their opinions on school safety, Chat GPT (an emergent AI platform), their wellbeing and happiness, school choice and much more. Additionally, for the first time, we included questions examining the instruction and preparation teachers received in college and other professional development environments. The link to the full report can be found here. Here’s what we learned:
1. Nearly 60 percent of teachers have heard about ChatGPT. However, far fewer say they have used the new AI platform. Teachers in urban areas (74%), younger teachers (70%), and millennial teachers (67%) are the most likely to have heard of the technology. Though the majority of teachers have heard of ChatGPT, most have not actually used ChatGPT. Just under 60 percent of teachers say they have never used ChatGPT before. For the teachers who have used ChatGPT, 14 percent say they use it in their free time, 13 percent say they use it at school, while 9 percent of teachers use ChatGPT both at school and in their free time. Teachers in urban areas, younger teachers, and male teachers are most likely to say they have used ChatGPT.
Teachers are aware of the emergence of ChatGPT and its impact in the classroom. We asked teachers whether they feel they will need to change their teaching plans next year based on ChatGPT and other AI technology’s impact on the classroom. Half of respondents feel that they will need to change their approach in the next school year based on the emergence of ChatGPT. More than one-third of teachers feel their approach to teaching will only require a minor change or no change at all based on ChatGPT’s emergence in the classroom.
2. Nearly three in five teachers are concerned about a violent intruder entering their school. For comparison, slightly more than 40 percent of teachers were concerned about a violent intruder entering their school when we asked this question last fall. Additionally, when primed about the recent school shooting in Nashville, the percentage of teachers concerned about a violent intruder entering their school increased to 70 percent. Private school teachers (70%) are much more likely than district school teachers (55%) to feel concerned about a violent intruder entering their school.
Examining the concern level of teachers to that of parents and teenagers is also intriguing. Teachers are the most concerned about the possibility of a violent intruder entering their school, at 59 percent. Parents follow closely behind, with 52 percent saying they are concerned about the possibility of a violent intruder (in the April survey of parents). Teens, on the other hand, are much less likely to be concerned about a violent intruder, with only 28 percent of teens indicating they are wary of such a possibility.
When asked how to reduce the possibility of a school shooting, nearly 3 in 4 teachers support investing in mental health programs for teenagers. More than half of teachers support allowing the police to remove guns from those exhibiting troubling behaviors, raising the age to purchase guns to 21, and banning assaults weapons to try and reduce the possibility of school shootings. Interestingly, slightly more than 2 in 5 teachers would support school districts allowing teachers and staff to carry firearms in school.
3. Less than half of teachers feel their school effectively manages mental health, guns, bullying, and violent behaviors. Furthermore, teachers are less likely than parents to think their school handles each of the issues effectively. Teachers are least convinced about schools’ ability to handle mental health and violent behaviors. Middle school teachers are most likely to feel positive about their school’s ability to handle such issues.
4. The majority of charter school teachers and private school teachers would recommend the teaching profession to a friend or family member. On the other hand, only 29 percent of district school teachers would recommend the teaching profession to a friend or family member. Overall, 36 percent of teachers would recommend the teaching profession. Interestingly, the proportion of teachers, across all school types, that would recommend the teaching profession increased significantly from the fall. Charter school teachers experienced a massive jump from last fall, going from 39 percent to 56 percent currently saying they would recommend the teaching profession to a friend or family member.
5. The majority of teachers feel hopeful when thinking about the future. When asked to describe their feelings about the future, 63 percent of teachers feel a sense of purpose and 55 percent feel hopeful. On the other hand, roughly one in four teachers feel frustrated and overwhelmed when thinking about the future.
We also asked teachers about their life overall, whether they feel are suffering or thriving. Half of teachers say they are thriving, while 3 percent say they are suffering. Looking at the different types of teachers, male teachers are much more likely (+24) to say they are thriving compared to female teachers. Roughly two-thirds of private school and charter school teachers say they are thriving, compared to 41 percent of public school teachers who say they are thriving. Additionally, middle and high school teachers are much more likely than K-4 teachers to say they are thriving.
6. Educators say their instruction and preparation for the profession most often focused on teaching in a public-school environment. We posed this question to teachers: “In your college education, graduate education, or other professional development, how much has the instruction and preparation covered the following content?” Nearly 90 percent of teachers report that their instruction and preparation covered teaching in a public school. For comparison, only 52 percent and 44 percent of teachers say their instruction and preparation covered teaching in a private school and charter school, respectively. Instruction for homeschooling (33%) and microschooling (26%) was covered least often.
We also asked teachers how prepared they feel to teach in certain school types, based on their college preparation. Teachers feel most prepared to teach in public schools (87%), with private schools (74%) and charter schools (67%) following behind. Only about one-third of teachers feel prepared to teach in a microschool based on their college preparation, by far the lowest of all school types.
7. Nearly two-thirds of teachers are interested in facilitating instruction for a learning pod. Interest has increased among all types of teachers since last fall. Nearly 90 percent of charter school teachers are interested in facilitating instruction for a learning pod, an increase of 13 percentage points from last fall. Private school teachers (68%) and district school teachers (58%) also show high levels of interest in learning pods.
The majority of teachers are also interested in tutoring students outside of school hours. Seven in ten teachers say they have interest in tutoring, a slight increase from the fall. Interest is highest among charter school teachers (82%), with private (71%) and district school teachers (69%) also heavily interested.
8. Teachers are very supportive of school choice policies, ESAs in particular. Roughly two-thirds of teachers support ESAs without a description of the policy provided. When more information about ESAs is given, support from teachers increases significantly to 78 percent. Charter school teachers (88%), private school teachers (86%), and teachers with less than 3 years of experience (88%) are especially supportive of ESAs. The majority of district school teachers are supportive of ESAs, even without a description of the policy. When given more information, support among district school teachers jumps to 75 percent.
Support for vouchers, charter schools, and open enrollment is less than that of ESAs, but still significant. The majority of teachers support vouchers (58%), charter schools (63%), and open enrollment (72%) with more information provided. Charter school teachers, private school teachers, and teachers with less than 3 years of experience are the most supportive of each of the policies.
Visit the EdChoice Public Opinion Tracker site to access past reports, crosstabs, questionnaires, and our national and state dashboards. All are updated monthly. We also provide a more in-depth description of our research and survey methods.
Our K–12 education polls archive is updated on a rolling basis, roughly a few times each month. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we are missing any surveys, or if there are accidental errors.