Positively Interesting!

ES is hosting an online chat about positive incentives in education with Sir Michael Barber, Dominic Brewer, Sandy Kress, and ES’s Rob Manwaring, you can check it out or join in and ask questions and engage the panelists.

3 Replies to “Positively Interesting!”

  1. In discussions of positive incentives for teachers, I always find it interesting that something crucial is left out: the things teachers actually want.

    Teachers don’t go into teaching for money, so giving them money does not make them work harder or smarter. This is why merit pay will never catch on to any significant degree and why raising teacher salaries (except possibly at the bottom of the scale) will never have a large effect either.

    Teachers really care about just a few things:

    1. THEY LOVE IT WHEN THEIRE CHILDREN LEARN MEANINGFUL THINGS IN INTERESTING WAYS. This is why teachers are so put off by standards and testing.

    2. THEY LIKE TO BE SUPPORTED BY THEIR PRINCIPAL. Most principals treat their teachers like trash. Administrative problems are often the top reason teachers cite for leaving a school or leaving the profession.

    3. THEY LIKE KIDS WHO BEHAVE WELL. Few teachers are trained in how to manage a classroom. And fewer still get help from administers when it comes to dealing with difficult kids.

    4. THEY LIKE TO HAVE A REASONABLE SIZE ROOM AND ALL THE EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS THEY NEED TO TEACH EFFECTIVELY. This is not at all an unreasonable request but it is a HUGE incentive that makes teachers very, very happy.

    5. TEACHERS DON’T WANT TO BE HASSLED OR SECOND-GUESSED BY PARENTS. Again, good administrative support is the key here. So is good parent education at the building level.

    6. TEACHERS WANT TO FEEL CREATIVE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO. This is crucial to the teacher psyche. That’s why, again, standards have been such a morale killer.

    7. TEACHERS WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE TO DO THEIR WORK. Teaching is an individual sport and that’s what attracts many teachers to the profession.

    So why don’t discussions of incentives ever talk about these things? Because, like so many of our problems in schools today, to fix them you’d really have to get in – on a building level – and roll up your sleeves. You’d also have to honor teachers as people and not merely as instructional delivery machines as so many policies and policymakers seem to wish they were.

  2. Steve,

    I tried clicking for your web site and had no luck, but I’m assuming you are a teacher.

    The discussion mentioned some incentives that relate to the process of teaching and teaching well. So, I though my comment/question might have been fielded. When it wasn’t I just blew it off as more testimony of the differences in culture between analysts and teachers.

    But your comment is so close to mine, that I’m posting it, as follows:

    We are overlooking the greatest positive incentive – a learning culture in high poverty NEIGHBORHOOD schools where teachers can teach, adults and students can interact respectfully, and teacher autonomy is restored. After all, high-poverty charter schools are allowed to offer that incentive.

    I suspect that the real answer is the assumption that it is folly to believe that NEIGHBORHOOD schools could be allowed to enforce their disciplinary codes. Its cheaper to blame teachers for low expectations, shuttle the disruptive students into the classroom and then say its all the result of teacher’s lack of instructional skills. I typically have 140 high school students. My best incentive is sharing in the growth of the 117 students that are still on my Active Roll. I just reviewed the 104 students on my Inactive Roll, and even I was stunned by the overwhelming majority who suffered such severe mental illness, physical disability, emotional and conduct disorders, mental retardation, often in combination, plus homelessness and/or incarceration. If I had the same students but a different job title, I would have the incentive of a caseload of one to ten or whatever, giving me the incentive of knowing that I properly served those traumatized children. I haven’t mentioned my 40 students who were absent 1/3rd of the time or more, but if I was an attendance officer with a case load of 40, my incentive would be the time and authority to properly serve my kids. Or think about my (excellent) assistant principal. What if school administrators were allowed to assess disciplinary consequences in a timely, consistent, and rational way, so we could intervene in firm, caring, and respectful ways?

    But as long as society is empowering choice schools, leaving a greater critical mass of troubled teens in NEIGHBORHOOD schools, we will always need an incentive that rubs the education establishment the wrong way. We need alternative schools or settings so that NEIGHBORHOOD schools can have the #1 incentive, an environment where learning occurs.

    If society can’t give us that incentive, then how about a moratorium on the terms “no excuses” and “whatever it takes” by people who have never taught under the policies withe the critical mass of challenges of NEIGHBORHOOD secondary schools.

  3. Thank you for sharing, coming soon:
    Student Talk, Students Social Network Community and Utility that Help Students Socialize Around the world for Teacher Education and Meet, Exchange and Share Essays, Graphic Designs, Presentations, PowerPoint Projects. Students Looking to Educate in School College University Organization Institute Association.

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