MERC Publications

Document Type

Research Report

Original Publication Date


Date of Submission

December 2016


This study emerged from discussions within the Policy and Planning Council of the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC), a research alliance between Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education and seven surrounding school divisions.

The project has two goals. The first goal is to develop an understanding of the factors that impact teachers’ experience of their work in the current PK12 public school context. Although this topic could be, and has been, investigated through a number of lenses (e.g., burnout, trust, motivation), this project focuses on the idea of teacher morale, a choice that will be discussed in detail in the next section of the report. The study addresses the following three questions:

1. How do teachers experience job satisfaction and morale?

2. What are the dynamics between a teacher’s job related ideal and the professional culture of the school that support or hinder the experience of job satisfaction and morale?

3. How do differences between schools related to policy context and social context affect the dynamics of job satisfaction and morale?

To answer these questions MERC assembled a research team comprised of a university researcher, graduate students, and a team of school personnel from the MERC school divisions. Over the course of two years, the team developed a conceptual framework for understanding teacher morale, designed a research study that involved observing and interviewing teachers (n=44) across three purposefully selected middle schools in the Richmond region, and then collected and analyzed the data. This report shares both the process and the findings of this collaborative research effort.

The second goal of this research project is to support action by local policy makers, school division leaders, central office personnel, principals, and teachers. The study was commissioned by local school leaders not just to document and reflect on teacher morale, but more importantly to do something about it. As argued above, teachers and the conditions of teachers’ work matters for our students, our schools, and the well being of our communities and society. In this regard, this report is only one piece of this project’s action and impact plan. While the report does contain a series of recommendations based on findings and how they can be used, the release of the report is tied to additional dissemination and professional development efforts designed to effect change.

Is Part Of

VCU MERC Publications



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