Early childhood and schools

Teaching in Focus


The Teaching in Focus briefs shed new light on issues surrounding the teaching and learning environment in schools and teachers’ working conditions. They present data from the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which is the first and only international survey on the conditions of teaching and learning. TALIS fills important information gaps in the international comparisons of education systems. It offers an opportunity for teachers and school principals to give their input into education analysis and policy development in some key policy areas. Cross-country analysis from TALIS allows countries to identify other countries facing similar challenges and to learn from other policy approaches. These briefs will provide policy makers, school leaders and teachers alike with a unique perspective on the experiences of teachers in schools around the world.



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Teaching in Focus Brief No. 9 - Improving School Climate and Students' Opportunities to Learn 

(available in French)

  • Almost one in three teachers across countries participating in the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) reports having more than 10% of potentially disruptive students with behaviour problems in their classes.
  • Teachers with more than one in ten students with behaviour problems spend almost twice as much time keeping order in the classroom than their peers with less than 10% of such students in their class.
  • Behaviour issues such as intimidation or verbal abuse among students are associated with student absenteeism.
  • Schools that promote participation of students, teachers and parents in school decisions, combined with a culture of shared responsibility and mutual support, tend to have lower incidence of student misbehaviour.

Blog - Improving school climate and opportunities to learn

January marks the preparation for the academic year in the Southern Hemisphere, where the school year spans from February/March to November/December. More than simply allocating time for classes and other extra-curricular activities, it is an opportunity to reflect on  how to make the best use of classroom time, in order to maximise  learning opportunities for all students. The new Teaching in Focus brief “Improving school climate and opportunities to learn” provides some useful insights into how school climate issues affect actual learning time and discusses some initiatives that could be promoted to make the most of the time that students spend in the classroom.

Teaching in Focus Brief No. 8 - What TALIS reveals about teachers across education levels 

(available in French)

The report New insights from TALIS 2013: Teaching and Learning in Primary and Upper Secondary Education presents an overview of teachers and teaching in primary and upper secondary education for a sample of countries that participated in the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) in 2013.

  • Women represent the majority of the teaching workforce for most countries at all levels of education. Despite this and the fact that most principals are former teachers, significantly fewer principals are women at all education levels.
  • Primary teachers tend to work in schools where principals report material and personnel shortages that hinder the delivery of quality education more often than upper secondary teachers. Moreover, schools with high proportion of socio-economically disadvantaged students face greater shortages in terms of key resources in many countries. This further exacerbates the already-challenging circumstances for teachers and students

 Blog - Shedding light on teaching and learning across education levels

Looking at teachers at all levels of education, we learn that the majority of teachers are women. In all countries, the percentage of male teachers is particularly low in primary schools where teaching is still seen as a women’s job.  As a result young children are missing out on role models of both sexes.

Teaching in Focus Brief No. 7 - School improvement through strong leadership 

(available in French)

  • According to the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), principals, on average, report frequently engaging in a number of activities that are consistent with instructional leadership. However, this is not the case in every country and large proportions of them report that their training did not include any instructional leadership training or course.
  • Although continuous professional development could help fill those gaps, many school leaders report a number of obstacles preventing them from taking part in such learning, including a lack of support and opportunities, and personal and professional obstacles.

Blog - Schools call for improvement through strong leadership
by Marie-Amélie Doring Serre, Trainee, Directorate for Education and Skills

Every organisation needs a strong leader to get a sense of direction, to set and achieve specific goals. Howard Gardner defines a leader as "an individual (or, rarely, a set of individuals) who significantly affects the thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviours of a significant number of individuals". Being a leader clearly involves a good understanding of human nature, no matter what the area of leadership.

Teaching in Focus Brief No. 6 - Unlocking the potential of teacher feedback
(available in French)

Across countries and economies participating in the OECD Teaching and Learning International
Survey (TALIS), a majority of teachers report receiving feedback on different aspects of their work
in their schools.

  • Teacher feedback has a developmental focus, with many teachers reporting that it leads to improvements in their teaching practices, and other aspects of their work.
  • However, not all feedback is seen as meaningful: nearly half of the teachers across TALIS countriesreport that teacher appraisal and feedback systems in their school are largely undertaken simply to fulfil administrative requirements.
  • Teachers who consider that they receive meaningful feedback on their work also tend to have more confidence in their own abilities and to have higher job satisfaction.

Blog - Delivering feedback for better teaching (version française)
by Katarzyna Kubacka, Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

October 5 marks the 20th anniversary of UNESCO’s World Teachers' Day, a day devoted to “appreciating, assessing and improving educators of the world”. This gives us a great opportunity to reflect again on how schools can celebrate and develop great teaching. One way to do that is through critical exchanges – building constructive feedback systems within the schools.

Teaching in Focus Brief No. 5 - What helps teachers feel valued and satisfied with their jobs?
(available in French)

  • Less than one in three teachers across countries participating in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 believes that the teaching profession is valued by society.
  • Nevertheless, the great majority of teachers in all surveyed countries are happy with their jobs.
  • Challenging classrooms with large proportions of students with behavioural problems and the perception that appraisals and feedback are done simply as administrative tasks are among factor that tend to lower job satisfaction.
  • Collaboration between teachers and positive teacher-student relationships, on the other hand, are among factors that can boost teacher job satisfaction.

Blog - How do teachers really feel about their job?
by Katarzyna Kubacka, Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

September marks the return to school for many students, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, and the return to classrooms for many teachers. It is difficult to know exactly what teachers around the world are thinking as they walk into their classrooms. However, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) provides us with some useful insights into how teachers feel about their profession and its standing in society.

Teaching in Focus Brief No. 4 - Fostering learning communities among teachers 
(available in Spanish)

  • According to the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), teachers across countries overwhelmingly desire more professional development.
  • In all TALIS countries, there are low rates of co-operative professional development and collaborative teaching practice.
  • Countries could use professional development to effectively and efficiently build and improve professional learning communities in schools.

Blog - Learning to Teach: Teaching to Learn
by Kristen Weatherby, Senior Analyst, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

One thing we have learned from surveying teachers around the world as part of our Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is that teachers everywhere want more professional development. On average across countries, 55% of teachers are telling us this.


Teaching in Focus Brief No. 3 - How can teacher feedback be used to improve the classroom disciplinary climate? 
(available in Spanish)

  • Teachers – especially new ones – report that one of their greatest areas of need relates to improving classroom disciplinary climate.
  • Many teachers are not provided feedback on their classroom disciplinary climate through formal or informal appraisals.
  • Feedback on classroom disciplinary climate can help to improve both teacher self-efficacy and the overall quality of the classroom learning environment.

Blog - A class act: giving teachers feedback
by Kristen Weatherby, Senior Analyst, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

When I think back on my first experiences as a student teacher of English language and literature to 13- and 14-year-olds, I don’t really remember the successes; I am not sure there were many during my teaching practice. Rather, I am reminded of the more colourful episodes of classroom management and student behaviour that seemed to occur all too frequently. For example, there was the time I looked up from reading to the class to see one student staring back with a green mustache and eyebrows. Another time one student jumped up from his desk and threw another student’s books out the window before I could blink. And then there were the countless times that I had to take away combs, brushes and makeup from both girls and boys in an effort to turn my classroom from a beauty salon into a place of learning. Needless to say, in these moments I didn’t feel like a very effective teacher.


Teaching in Focus Brief No. 2 - What can be done to support new teachers?
(available in Spanish)

  • Schools are providing support for new teachers in the form of mentoring and induction programmes, but nearly one third of new teachers report a high level of need for professional development around student discipline and behaviour problems.
  • Contrary to what is often reported, the schools in which new teachers teach are no different than those of their more experienced colleagues. According to the countries surveyed in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS),
  • New teachers spend less time on teaching and learning and more time on classroom management and report lower levels of self-efficacy than experienced teachers.

Blog - What can be done to support new teachers?
by Kristen Weatherby, Senior Analyst, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

Schools are providing support for new teachers in the form of mentoring and induction programmes, but nearly one third of new teachers report a high level of need for professional development around student discipline and behaviour problems.


Teaching in Focus Brief No. 1 - Are teachers getting the recognition they deserve? 
(available in Spanish)

  • According to the 24 countries surveyed in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), on average, teachers who receive appraisals report implementing positive changes into their teaching.
  • Nearly half of teachers believe that teacher appraisal and feedback are carried out mainly to fulfill administrative requirements and about 75% say that they would not receive any recognition for improving their teaching or for being more innovative.
  • Although teachers view the appraisal of their work in positive terms, many of them say they do not get regular appraisals of their work. More than one in five teachers say they have never received appraisal and feedback from their school principal.

Blog - Are teachers getting the recognition they deserve?
by Kristen Weatherby, Senior Analyst, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

More and more countries are having discussions about how to evaluate the quality of their teaching workforce and, subsequently, how to reward teachers for their work. The OECD’s newest series of briefs, Teaching in Focus, launches this month with a discussion of the appraisal and feedback teachers receive and the impact of both on their teaching.





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