According to the data...

December 6, 2017
By Jane McLeod STF Senior Manager, Research & Records

The 2017 Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Member Survey, conducted by Praxis Analytics, explored the professional teaching experiences of Saskatchewan’s teachers and had a response rate of approximately 20 percent of STF members. Of the 2,606 respondents, approximately 210 identified themselves as principals and vice-principals. An analysis of their responses presents an opportunity for ongoing study and exploration with principals across the province.

Questions in the survey were grouped in five key sections: teaching and learning environment; quality of relationships; adequacy of provisions for responding to the diverse needs of students; adequacy of provisions for social justice, inclusion and equity; and general satisfaction.

For most questions, responses were captured using a symmetrical five-point scale where one or two are negative, three is neutral and four or five are positive.

Teaching and Learning Environment 

  • On average, principal respondents agreed that the nature and state of the school environment is a contributor to effective teaching and learning. Principals disagreed that resources are readily available to adapt instruction to differing student needs; however, most agreed that this was important.
  • Principals disagreed, unsurprisingly, that they have sufficient time during the school day to complete work-related activities. 
  • The survey showed 5.1 percent of principal and 2.9 percent of vice-principal respondents reported having experienced incidents of harassment in the working environment in the last five years. In addition, 7.8 percent of principal and five percent of vice-principal respondents reported having experienced incidents of violence in the working environment in the last five years.

Relationships

  • A majority of both principal and vice-principal respondents rated the quality of collegial relationships as positive.
  • On average, principal respondents agreed and considered important that involvement in extracurricular activities contributes significantly to the development of a positive teaching and learning environment. However, principal respondents disagreed that they are able to support extracurricular activities without them negatively affecting personal or family relationships.
  • In general, principal respondents agreed that they have meaningful input into planning and decision making regarding school goals. Yet the level of agreement was less regarding the planning and decision making regarding school division programs.

Responding to the Diverse Needs of Students

  • Principals agreed that ready access to additional behavioural supports for students is important, while they disagreed with the availability of education assistance and behavioural supports for students. Finally, principals highly agreed with the importance of ensuring “adequacy of provisions for responding to students’ diverse needs in the school.”

Social Justice, Inclusion and Equity

  • Principal respondents strongly believed students in school feel welcomed and respected and on average, principals agreed that staff and students of all cultural backgrounds feel they are an integral part of the school community.

General Satisfaction

  • Principal respondents agreed that working with students is fulfilling, and agreed that they have a degree of influence on school culture. In addition, principals in general agreed that they have the necessary supports to fulfil what is expected of them as a professional.
  • Of interest is the fact that during an average week, 66 percent of principal respondents spent more than four hours supporting students’ extracurricular activities and 60 percent of principal respondents spent more than 11 hours on school- or teaching-related activities outside of normal instructional hours.

Discussion Points

  • Generally, principals had a positive perception of the current Teaching and Learning Environment and were mostly satisfied in their role as a recognized school-based leader.
  • For the most part, principal responses to questions around Teaching and Learning Environment indicated a stronger degree of agreement compared to classroom teachers. This may suggest a more optimistic perception regarding classroom conditions and the availability of resources to support classroom teaching.
  • Violence and harassment are a reality in the lives of principals and vice-principals. Given the prevalence of violence and harassment today, responding to the needs of teachers as well as being proactive with school and community policies and protocols that support safe workplaces will undoubtedly require a principal’s leadership and influence. 
  • On average, principal respondents agreed that their participation in extracurricular activities is completely voluntary, yet they acknowledged the toll this is taking on themselves and their families. This finding is consistent with the recent report from the Teacher Employment Terms and Conditions Working Committee.
  • Principal respondents in the category Responding to the Diverse Needs of Students affirmed findings from other principal studies and reports regarding the intensity of pressure on schools to effectively meet the diverse needs of learners.

Over the next few months, the Federation will continue to study these and other issues relevant to actively supporting principalship success in Saskatchewan schools.