Inform the future of education by listening to teacher voice

Our teachers occupied a front-row seat witnessing the impact of the past year on their students – they are our experts in what students need right now.
By: | May 12, 2021
Dr. Julie Evans is the CEO of Project Tomorrow.

Dr. Julie Evans is the CEO of Project Tomorrow.

Since 2003, Project Tomorrow/Speak Up has annually surveyed K-12 students, parents, teachers, and administrators nationwide. These online surveys have played a crucial role in capturing the authentic voice of education stakeholders and providing schools and districts with essential information about the needs and aspirations of their key stakeholders. In addition, the annual Speak Up reports on the aggregated data findings regularly inform policies, programs and funding at the district, state, and national level.

Fast forward to the past year. Closed schools led to remote and hybrid learning. Students struggled with zoom. Parents grappled with balancing work demands with the learning needs of their children. Administrators juggled multiple demands to keep the school enterprise running as effectively as possible. And for our classroom teachers this has been a year like no other testing their skills and endurance. Across the nation, teachers have risen to the occasion and through grit and perseverance e met the differentiated needs of their students, both on screens and in socially distanced classrooms.

Related: 8 things teachers say about working extra during COVID


So much has been learned over the past year with the potential to improve educational opportunities for all students. That is why listening to the real-life experiences of our classroom teachers is more important than ever. Our teachers occupied a front-row seat witnessing the impact of the past year on their students – they are our experts in what students need right now.

Project Tomorrow believes that appreciating and respecting the views and ideas of teachers is vital for our nation and for schools and districts across the county. For that reason, we expanded our efforts during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3 – 7) to provide a way for every teacher to “Speak Up” about their experiences with remote learning, as well as what they need to support classroom instruction, use digital tools and resources more effectively and engage students.

We urge district administrators to join us in this call to action for teachers to “Speak Up.”

Teachers Matter

During Teacher Appreciation Week, teachers can directly share their views through a special Speak Up survey for teachers.

To recognize teachers’ efforts, Project Tomorrow and our partners will be providing prizes and classroom grants. Learn more here.

Listening Matters

Over 4,500 K-12 teachers have already completed a Speak Up survey this year. The early findings provide a proof case for why every K-12 district administrator should be seeking input from their teachers right now.

  • 55% of teachers say they are concerned about the impact of the pandemic trauma on their students.
  • 54% are concerned about their effectiveness as a teacher in a virtual environment.
  • 62% say they need high bandwidth Internet connectivity in their classroom to support new modes of digital learning.
  • 64% want more planning time with colleagues around digital lessons.
  • Teachers’ PD needs have changed and include how to create videos and project-based learning experiences, as well as how to effectively engage with students online.

Every school district needs authentic data like this right now to make the best decisions for their community.

Related: Capturing the voice and experience of educators on the front lines

Data Matters

First and foremost, Speak Up provides data to inform local school and district plans. Over the years, district administrators have used Speak Up data to validate new initiatives and support new investments. On a national level, Speak Up data highlights digital learning trends in K-12 education and promotes new discussions about ways to support innovation in schools. More important than ever, this year’s national Speak Up report provides a glimpse into how the sudden shift to digital learning may be the catalyst for sustained educational transformation. Read more about what the Speak Up data is telling us here.

Dr. Julie Evans is the CEO of Project Tomorrow ( and leads the nonprofit organization’s research efforts around the impacts of digital and mobile technologies on student learning and teacher effectiveness.  She is a graduate of Brown University and earned her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of California, San Diego. 

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