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The glass is half full and merit pay's day has arrived. Give some weight to the teacher accomplishing predetermined goals as validated in a portfolio, give weight to anonymous peer, student and parent reviews, include mastery of learning technology and round it out with student achievement measured with learner centered rubrics.
I think more than anything, the work teachers are already doing needs to be sold to the community so that we don't have to justify the salaries we are already making. Parents and other stakeholders need to see teachers in action: the hours we put in before and after school, the degree and number of major emotional and personal issues we help students through, on top of teaching a rigorous curriculum. Most of us do it because we love it, but there is nothing more disheartening than hearing about how easy we have it with our hours and summers "off" -- having the NEA fund ads that showcase master teachers, that illustrate what many of us do with our summers "off", the level of education and training we have, etc. might help taxpaying stakeholders recognize the value in what we do and make sure that we don't have to fight to keep the pay or benefits we receive.
On top of that, I think merit-based pay might give us a bad rep, make people think we're in it for the money. I'd be happy with a reward of technological resources for my classroom, of reimbursement for professional development (since I'm paying 12, 000 out of pocket for it this year alone), of an in-school day "off" where I could catch up on paperwork, grading or planning...that's where I stand on the matter! :)
To me, and many of my dedicated colleagues, low pay is not half as discouraging as working alongside teachers who put in minimal effort and either don't care or blame everything and everyone around them for their student's failures. In California, teachers achieve tenure after just 2 years on the job. Many have been observed by their principal just twice- The single observation per year that is required. This leads to schools staffed a few great teachers, several teachers who mean well, but need more support, and several more teachers who simply should not be teaching.
Teachers know this is true, and so do parents- who all have horror stories about the year (or more) their child wasted with an incompetent teacher. Subjecting a group of children to a poor teacher for a year is a travesty, and ought to be treated as such. Instead we simply hope they get a better teacher next year.
If we held ourselves to higher standards as a profession, when excellence becomes the expectation rather than a rarity, morale amongst the hardest working teachers will increase whether the pay does or not. And when parents need no longer worry about their child getting the "bad teacher", public support for higher pay unfold on its own.
Last year, I did receive an extra bonus for teaching an E.C.
self-contained class. However, what I would have preferred
over money is an administrator and E.C. supervisor that remember
to include me in decision making on matters that affected
my class. We often talk about treating teachers as professionals, but it needs to be put into practice. This
especially true with E.C. techers who are often a minority in
a school. Often the school reminds you that you are housed there,
not necessarily by there choice. I also don't think throwing
money at a problem solves,it is a way that our culture thinks.
However, as a teacher that is not a primarhy reason for entering the profession. In summary, WE NEED TO BE TREATED AS PROFESSIONALS. bfg
It would make more sense to me than bonuses for superintendents. I know of one superintendent who gets a bonus if the district get rated excellent on the school report card. The thing is he doesn't teach any classes, grade any papers, discipline any students, and can't do much of anything without prior approval from the school board. But, the grade the district gets results directly from the hard work the teachers and the students put in each year on their academics to pass and to take the state tests, not the superintendent's work. And, the teachers and students never see a dime of bonus money.
The only thing that makes bonuses to teachers more difficult is because of how to evaluate them and how many more teachers there are to give bonuses to, many more teachers than superintendents. What would you evaluate teachers on? Who does the evaluations? There has to be some consistency. There are instances where administrators haven't liked some teachers and rated them low even though the teachers are good, liked and respected by all for being a good teacher. Why did the administrator disliked that teacher? It could be for any number of reasons. Thus, evaluations for bonuses, just like for contract renewal, should include evaluations by different parties, like maybe one from administration, one from student, one from a school board member, etc. Minimum 2 out of 3 position evaluations from different parties for the teacher to get a bonus and to be retained.
I couldn’t agree with you more. Teachers need to be partnering together and in collaboration for the best interest of the student/next generation NOT be in a popularity contest or competing for monetary reward against one another. Only by teachers being willing to share ideas and combine their collective individual styles and gifts will the student reap the ultimate reward of deep understanding. Well said, especially about students learning to think and make choices.
I, Michael Joseph Matteucig, selected "OTHER" for a very rational and logical precept--"ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL." Therefore, "INDIVIDUAL MATRICULATION" of each and every student should be emphasized in our learning environments.
Knowing that each human being has a unique neuro-developmental construct, it is not appropriate for the "powers that be" demand performance pay based on "ONE SIZE FITS ALL."
Because our traditional learning system (public, private and parochial) emphasizes, for the most part, left-brain (oral,aural, and visual) curriculum, only 22% of our students have their educational needs satisfactorily acquiesced.
Yes! The educator is responsible for inspiring all students, to "forge ahead" academically by means of implementing individualized instruction (curriculum) which is differentiated and leveled, and which is tied to thematic place-based/project-based learning. This facilitation must be both multiple-sensory and structured in-nature. This task is accomplished by sensorial evaluations of the students--not by I.Q. tests. Thus, the learning material is adapted to the student's learning modalities--Montessori (albeit pedantic)!
"INDIVIDUAL MATRICULATION" (any/all student progress) must be
the method by which to evaluate educators.
I considered this question from a personal perspective. The issue of making a judgement about performance is a sticky one. Then comes all the of the politics and human responses to any reward system: often those who receive rewards are somehow set out of their collegial group, those who don't feel punished rather than just "unrewarded," those who work for the reward are following the wrong motivation, and a lot of energy goes into attempting to award rewards.
Isolating strong teachers is not useful for schools; stressing low performing teachers with the absence of a reward is not helpful for those classrooms; having teachers motivated by a financial reward may lead to teaching practices that do not hold the learners' best interests at the center; and the time spent making decisions about such rewards would be better spent to uplight collegiality and teaching expertise.
Yes, at first glance the idea of a financial bonus was an enticing thought. Then I observed the thought process that followed....
.....how to GET it...... (short term student output stressed)
....who GETS it..... (politics, judgement, competition)
.........why did THEY GET it......... (?)
.........what if I GOT it..... (embarrrassed.... guilty...set apart....)
None of the thoughts I had, from a personal perspective, felt productive in my ongoing goal of becoming a stronger teacher to facilitate stronger learning in my classroom.
Thus my, "Other please."
For me, professional development is key- practicing my own learning. I have felt most acknowledged and supported when my own teaching interests were supported with opportunities to learn from my colleagues and leaders in the field of education, thinking, learning, and content. This is manifested with time and money going into teacher learning. Focus on individualized teacher learning would also support teachers who may not be performing at desired levels- they need to be inspired and supported as learners, not punished by the absence of a reward. Teachers learning and sharing together can be fun and fun increases energy, energy that can be used for the classroom. SImply being together grows teachers. Add an inspiring learning opportunity, a lovely environment, a good meal, and laughs to process it, then materials and time to support follow through and VOILA! The preservation and development of collegiality is key to school success.
So what about those who do not want to learn and resist or sabotage these opportunities? We need to spend time looking at the reasons for this and if there is no way to inspire them as teacher learners then redirect them to consider a field that would inspire them.
In terms of money.... well, teacher salaries simply need to be more competitive with other professions and should reflect a greater sense of worth. This is a national culture issue.
I hope that we can all hold the goal of learning at the core of all education decisions.
Teachers need a better pay structure and they need better incentives to experiment and improve how they teach children. But using a merit pay structure is bound to create incentives outside the activity of teaching children -- there will be some measurement structure by which a school administration measures how well a teacher is teaching, and the merit pay structure will become merely another reason to game the administration rather than teaching -- and this is exactly the behavior that keeps bad teachers in schools and leaves good teachers frustrated and hamstrung by arbitrary butt-covering requirements imposed by upper-level administrators who are generally beholden to people almost entirely removed from the vast majority of people affected by educational decisions. So merit pay is a good idea, but only after we've fixed the root problem (which is actually the same as the root problem of the grading game for students): teachers are being graded on totally arbitrary criteria all the time -- if we reinforce that criteria with pay incentives, we will reinforce the problems the evaluation structure has, and we will do nothing to help students learn better.
Unfortunately, "money really is the root of all evil". Wouldn't merit pay simply increase the pressure on the system to become even more of a business model? The last time I looked, that was not the optimum environment within which to raise children, so why does education constantly jump onto the "big business" model? The most satisfying system I've worked within is the one that rewards commitment, professional development, and also respects the teachers biological family. If you are trying to get great staff that does a great job teaching children, offering bonus money will eventually be seen as divisive...even with a rubric. If a district has money to give bonuses, maybe they are over-taxing the public they answer to. If that bonus money comes from other outside interests, then maybe people need to look at the motives of those givers? Since k-12 is compulsory in the USA, its unlikely you would ever be able to create a one size fits all rubric to measure what each of us does, or how well we do it.