What are the right incentives to have in place for teachers?

Jennifer - posted on 07/21/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )

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My husband is a teacher of primary school and he and I often debate what it would take to get education back on track (if it ever was). It is difficult to identify the real reasons that education often fails.

I found this article and it stirred some thoughts:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/o...

I think that some teacher incentives will help, but know how hard he works. I agree with the premise of this article in that teaching is a calling much like other professions. He believes that much of the blame falls to parents who don't make education a priority in their household. Do you think that incentives for teachers will produce the results we so desperately need, or is the problem beyond the spectrum of pure teacher motivation?

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[deleted account]

The school system I used to work in is considered to be the best in my state. This is why I think it is so good. The teachers in the system are the highest paid in the state. The system can afford to let go of bad teachers, because there will be 200+ applicants to take her place. Of those 200+, the system can afford to hire the very best.

The reason these teachers are paid so well is the community. The community values education and always votes for property tax increases to benefit the schools. There are several parent organizations that work to raise money. There are several local businesses that financially support the schools. The students and teachers enjoy state of the art facilities and technology.

However, I think that if you took all the teachers out of this system and swapped them with all the teachers in one of the worst systems, the system would still be highly ranked. The community is what makes the biggest difference in how well the students and schools perform.

I've been in both high performing and low performing schools. For the most part, the teachers are doing their jobs. Of course, in the very low performing schools, some principals had to hire whoever was willing to take a classroom...leading to a retired teacher with dementia taking over a class in one case...not good. But the majority of the teachers I've worked with are genuinely doing the best they can with the materials and resources they have.

Stifler's - posted on 07/21/2011

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It's not teacher who are the problem. It's slack parents who don't believe in helping with homework, reading to their children or sorting out discipline problems instead they blame bad teaching or whatever for their child not paying attention. It would take a LOT more than money to get me into teaching.

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Mary - posted on 07/30/2011

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Deanna, that's really a rather harsh assessment, and one which completely misses the point. The bottom line is, the median salary for a teacher, as compared to other professions that require a comparable level of education, is crap. Although the specifics vary from state to state, they all require at least a bachelor's degree. In many states (such as mine) they also require an additional certification in teaching. As a nurse, I do have a BSN, but more than half of my colleagues do not. They only have an AA degree, and yet, the median salary for nurses is roughly $20,000.00 higher. Now, an argument could be made that my profession has a more difficult schedule (i.e weekends, holidays, nights, and no days off for inclement weather), but that still does not account for the glaring discrepancy in yearly income.

So, based on those facts alone, I think we can assume that only those "like" teaching are doing so. They sure as hell aren't in it for the money alone, and as clearly demonstrated by your post, it is not for the respect, admiration, or appreciation of the general public, for that seems to be sadly lacking as well.

I'm not a teacher, but I have, over my years, been blessed to encounter more wonderful ones than even just "average" ones. I have had the course of my life greatly impacted by some of the more gifted and caring teachers. However, I have noticed that the majority of news stories I see are those which are critical of our educational system, and negative about our educators as well.

I do think that a large part of the problem is a lack of parental support. I listen to a lot of moms criticize the schools, or an individual teacher when their child is not performing "well". I've noticed that these same complainers tend to be the ones who are not actively involved in their child's school, and think having to "help" with the "ridiculous' amount or homework or school projects is an imposition on their time. That attitude is not lost on the child.

[deleted account]

Deanna, the vast majority of teachers I know ARE doing their job. No one is complaining about being a teacher. You've missed the point of this post entirely. WHY is education failing? I honestly believe that it's NOT the teachers. Teachers are doing the best they can with what they have to work with (for the most part). It's the whole system that is the problem.

[deleted account]

I think that the ONLY incentive a teacher should have is a paycheck. You want that paycheck then you are GOING to do your job. Period. If you don't like being a teacher then you shouldn't have gotten into that field in the first place. So quit complaining and move on.

Diane - posted on 07/22/2011

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I think that the only way to improve education in this country is to acknowledge that the task of teaching children is more holistic than a simple matter of motivation or standardized tests. We as parents have to take responsibility for making sure our kids are learning and are in pace with their class mates. Good teachers are important, but will only do so much for the students. Education has to be a priority for the family as well, and children need to have positive role models that value the written word, science and mathematics. So often in our culture as well, kids are taught to idolize sports heros and pop stars. We should help our children to form respect and adoration for professionals, religious leaders and educators first. Patience, parent involvement, positive role models and constant practice and study is the only way in my opinion.

Jeneva - posted on 07/21/2011

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My husband is a high school teacher. We have had talks about this for years and although teacher incentives would be great, it's mainly because they just aren't paid well. However, that doesn't mean my husband or other teachers don't try their hardest to get the kids to learn. Yes, there are crappy teachers who don't give a crap anymore or because their methods are just not working and they don't want to change but I think that is slowly changing and working its way out.

At this point I think there are two main problems (I'm leaving money out of it). One - a lot of parents don't care enough. Or don't have the time or don't realize their importance. So the kids aren't getting the outside help and support they need. Not to mention the behavioral issues that come from that as well.
Two - schools are afraid of the parents. Kids have the "victim" mentality because of maturity and when they start failing a class they blame it on the teacher and a lot of parents will then confront the teacher or admin and then they back down because they are afraid to get sued or fired! So the kids never learn consequences. Also, kids aren't held back when they should be and that is a HUGE issue. Where my husband teaches, he has had so many kids fail algebra and STILL go on to Geometry. Also pre-algebra to Algebra. If you can't pass pre-alg, you are NOT going to get Alg. And so on and so forth. They should not be allowed to move on until they get it and that's just not happening. The same thing in grade school. Some of these kids have a hard time with long division. And I mean, they just don't completely get it.

If kids were held accountable from day 1 I think things would start to get better.

Katherine - posted on 07/21/2011

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Teachers don't get paid enough, so of course incentives would help. I also think they are overworked and underpaid.
They go above and beyond what they should and really get no credit. It would be nice if they got bonuses. I totally disagree with the article. They should have incentives!!!

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