Pay teachers more and students will perform better

I’m always amazed when I read something like this – pay me a bonus and the kids will score higher. Financial incentives do seem to work in some professions. Increase sales incentives and with the right person, you’ll get increased sales. But teaching isn’t like sales. There are too many variables to count between the staff, students and their families to know exactly which variable on what day will make the greatest difference. The thing that bothers me the most about the assumption in the title is that somehow my educational talents and skills are  motivated by a bonus. Don’t get me wrong. I like getting paid. I wish I made more. I probably would have chosen another profession had this one not come with a salary, but then again, I might still be here. It’s not the pay that motivates me as much as I like getting paid. Did you hear me Governor, Purdue? Are you listening, Congress? I do want to get paid. I do want a fair salary. BUT what motivates me is seeing a student “get” what we are doing in class. To see light bulbs go on. To have students come back the next day and tell me they went to the library or searched the internet to do a little bit more digging that there wasn’t enough time for during the school day. I’m going to do my job well, strike that, I’m going to be an excellent teacher without performance pay. I’m going to push every child as far as they can be pushed and I don’t need a dollar incentive to do that. Their learning is incentive enough for me. 

New York City Abandons Teacher Bonus Program


My friend Matt has a teaching interview!

He’s looking for words of wisdom, so if you have any, chime in please!

This is what I told him off the top of my head:

  • Know the curriculum for the grade/s and area as well as the before and after grades. Think of some exciting teaching techniques that are hands on that you can use across multiple topics. You will almost certainly be asked how you would teach so-n-so and they will be looking for innovation and student involvement.
  • Think through your philosophy of education. Write it down in bullet form to help you really know it. You’ll probably be asked some questions on which you can use a great deal of material from that document. For instance, I believe that all children can learn (if they wanna). Everything I do – pushing, pulling, reteaching is based on that philosophy.
  • You may be interviewed by a team. This one always slays me as someone 1) either doesn’t like an answer someone else seemed perfectly happy with OR 2) someone isn’t listening and you find yourself answering the same question.
  • If it’s a public school you’d better know all the latest on the TAKS test and what the latest thoughts are on it. Find out how the school you are interviewing with has done on it. Go to for that info.
  • If it’s a private school, know what test they administer. Those tests are very generic and you have to address how you’ll follow the curriculum and have them score highly on the test.
  • What kinds of assessments will you use – you need a happy medium between paper and pencil and on your feet kinds of checks to something right in the middle.
  • How are you going to use technology in the lessons AND ask about what kinds of technologies they have. Document readers are all the rage. Up to date schools will have those (and they are called a variety of things like ELMOS) as well as smart boards and laptops and LCD projectors. Medium tech schools will have computer labs and a bank of computers in the rooms. Look into a couple of classroom response systems so that if this school has sets, you can ask about them.
  • How will you incorporate reading and writing into the subject? Unless it’s English of course 😉
  • You may be asked about teams you’ve served on before.
  • In some states you can get some kind of teaching credit for teaching related work – your youth work may count here.
That’s it off the top of my head.
So what’s your advice for a teacher interview?

Firing every adult in a school building

Last week, I mentioned the mass of school closings. This is different. These are low performing schools that apparently think they need a jump start with an entirely new staff.

When it was announced that a certain Rhode Island school was going to fire the entire staff, I commented on FB, “Isn’t there one teacher in the entire school worth keeping?” No one with the right experience, zeal, relationship with the kids? No one? I woke up this morning to news that a school in Georgia has decided to take the all or nothing approach (emphasis on the nothing) to keeping teachers. Now the school in GA is apparently considering rehiring up to 49% of its teachers. Well, why put the ones that will be offered jobs through this?

It’s happened again and again. One of those schools (at 50% lay offs) is in the county in which I teach. Now at least 50% imho is a much more realistic figure. I am not for keeping teachers who do not manage classrooms properly or teach the curriculum. I’m not for keeping teachers with the poor attitude that the kids they teach can’t learn, But if teachers classes are failing, talk to them and find out why. If they have that crummy attitude, send them on their ways. BUT if they want to teach and need more skills to work with a certain population, then help them get those skills OR transfer them and offer some kind of incentive for a teacher that has the right skill set.

Update – this is from the local paper about two schools in this school system that are planning to take the federal grants and reassign 50% of the teachers. Thanks to Sandy for the heads up on FB.

Firing failing teachers

From Education Week:

Houston Trustees OK Plan to Fire Failing Teachers


Some teachers booed as Houston Independent School District trustees discussed and approved a plan to allow the firing of educators whose students consistently fail to improve on standardized tests.

. . . .

More than 400 teachers, or about 3 percent of the HISD teaching staff, could be at risk under the system using a statistical method to judge their effectiveness. The process currently is used to determine which teachers are eligible for bonuses.

Can’t imagine this will sit well with the teachers. I hate the pressure this puts on everyone, but how to determine and then get rid of a teacher who isn’t (or cannot) teach, has always been a dilemma.