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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

With the merit pay debate swirling around Florida, this week's #edchat topic hit close to home: How should successful and innovative teaching be rewarded?

As a consultant and former elementary school principal, the notion of reward for great teaching struck a chord. I begin to think about recent headlines in this country that propose merit pay and reward for high test scores. I was concerned that this topic could be contentious. What I found instead was an out-pouring of emotion and zeal for the topic and as the tweets went flying by, as usual, this #edchat did not disappoint.

Many statements began to be posted by participants as the issue of reward for teachers emerged:

@rliberni So, how should teachers be rewarded for excellence? Or should they?

@olafelch: I asked my headmaster today. He said satisfaction in a job well done was reward enough!

@flourishingkids:Teachers should be rewarded with more opportunities to develop passions and integrate with their teaching.

@MatthiasHeil A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. (Henry Brooks Adams) --- that's ample reward for me.

@akenuam:Teachers should be rewarded with respect first and foremost, creative freedom next, and theres always the salary conversation.

@Mamacita:I would be ecstatic to be rewarded by being sent to the conferences of my choice!

As the chat continued defining the reward was difficult. Some felt that it was the pat on the back, others the opportunity to present at conferences, still others thought that a monetary reward should be in place. Then a new theme emerged...that of the "innovative teacher" receiving the more "challenging" child in their class, as a reward.

@ShellTerrell:To play devil's advocate- Does any1 believe rewards not effective for teachers, that the passion to teach itself is enough?

@MissCheska:That's a toughie - in my observations, the good effective teachers get more workloads!

@ShellTerrell: My experience as well!

@evab2001: How true!

@TheNerdyTeacher:`I agree.The better you do your job, the more responsibility you get. Is that a reward?

As the discussion quickly moved along, debates on what was an innovative teacher and rewarding great teaching did too. Many good points were raised from rewarding good teachers with things from merit pay, mentoring opportunities, student loan forgiveness, college tuition, to new technology, and candy bars. In the end, one last important issue came through...the need for administrators to recognize and support teachers...the issue of reward for the teacher from the administrator coming in the form of Trust.

Many felt that the best reward they could receive as a teacher was the trust from their administrator that they were doing a great job!:

@michellek107: Reward could be as simple as recognition from admin and commun., additional leadership opportunities.

@dlourcey: I absolutely agree. Leaders need to be aware that the people who get the vision done need to be encouraged and edified

@jhedger276:I would even take an apple right now! Some days admin need to know their actions are very demoralizing

@tomwhitby:Good and successful teachers should be rewarded with support, encouragement ,and recognition.

@solivo11: I would feel most rewarded with knowing that admin has my back and will give me leeway to be innovative.

@seanbanville: Management listening to teachers and trusting them enough to follow teacher initiatives would make teachers feel valued.

@rliberni: I think praise from students, satisfaction with a job well done and some recognition from peers and 'masters' should do it!

As in all #edchats, I left that day eager and excited for more exchanges. The issue of "rewards for great teaching" will continue long past the end of the event. It will continue to hang in the air and be tossed around in tweets for days, weeks and months ahead. One last tweet that I felt was reassuring and defining was this one that I leave you with from @doctorjeff: "KEEP FAITH: We as teachers need to embrace this noble profession & why we joined, even if the educational system we work for may not." I think that sums it up.

Check out the rest of the #edchat transcript. If you have never participated in an #edchat conversation, please join us on Twitter every Tuesday at 12 p.m. EST/6 p.m. CET or at 7 p.m. EST/1 a.m. CET.

Final note: I'm facilitating the New Teacher Connections group here. We have over 140 new teachers in this group, working to dialogue and collaborate. To support them even further, I'm excited to announce that we'll be launching a New Teacher Chat on Twitter in May. Look for it soon under the hash-tag: #ntchat. If you're a new teacher, or want to help mentor new teachers, I hope you'll join us!

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