What To Do With All Those Bad Employees – Firing teachers or shuffling them?

Alexander Russo wrote today concerning what to do with poor teachers

from This Week in Education

No one’s entirely comfortable with the people we’ve been using. They cost so much. Sometimes they’ve been arrogant and refused to change their ways. (They’ve even been accused of doing some really bad things.)

But you can’t just get rid of them all. There are too many to replace. Not to speak of the whole learning curve that would be involved with bringing in new people, no matter how well trained they were.

So what you’re probably going to do is to end up using the same people again, perhaps just under a new title.

This is just as true for classroom teachers as it is for Blackwater security personnel (NYT).

Full-scale replacement is out of the question. What can be done to make things better at scale?

Some brief thoughts about Alexander’s post on this rainy day:

Performance based pay is part of the answer. Money can be a great motivator for some malcontents. I know, we would all like to have this noble idea that everyone goes into teaching only because they love it. That may be true for most, but messing with someone’s income will move just about anyone.

Mandatory training for those who are in need. We give (or should give) struggling children extra help. Why not teachers?

High performing teachers should be assigned as mentors to low performing co-workers. Mentors could teach part of the day and mentor another part. Mentoring another teacher should also factor into pay assessments.

Of course all of those require reforms in how we assess students and teachers. More on that here (check the comments and Chuck’s blog)

Also, all statistics on assessments etc should be easily available to teachers, principals, and superintendents. It’s time we digitize. Think of the time and money that would save.

Last, we need to reconsider who we hire. A skimming down of certifications to require a candidate hold a college degree, meet essential skills and content knowledge depending on subject and grade level, and of course passing a background check will open up the teaching field to those frustrated with the current process.

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4 Responses

  1. Performance based pay could be a great possibility but here are a couple quick considerations:

    First- You can not use standard testing as a measure of how good a teacher is. If the kids do better on a test, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the teacher is better. It could mean that this group of kids happen to be particularly good at taking tests. Also, setting tests as the standard results in teaching to the test, which IS NOT good teaching practice…unless you are training kids to be good test takers and not individual thinkers.

    Most teachers are very motivated and strive for high standards in their classrooms. The ones that DON’T make the grade are the ones that typically get news coverage.

    As highly motivated professionals (which most teachers are), performance based pay gets pretty darn expensive for school districts. I think this is where the movement truthfully stops. I know a particular district where teacher movement in salary is relation to meeting national standards and continued training. Much to the surprise of the people paying the bills, many educators have quickly increased their levels of pay by merely getting credit for what they’ve been doing all along without recognition in anyway.

  2. Performance based pay could be a great possibility but here are a couple quick considerations:

    First- You can not use standard testing as a measure of how good a teacher is. If the kids do better on a test, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the teacher is better. It could mean that this group of kids happen to be particularly good at taking tests. Also, setting tests as the standard results in teaching to the test, which IS NOT good teaching practice…unless you are training kids to be good test takers and not individual thinkers.

    Most teachers are very motivated and strive for high standards in their classrooms. The ones that DON’T make the grade are the ones that typically get news coverage.

    As highly motivated professionals (which most teachers are), performance based pay gets pretty darn expensive for school districts. I think this is where the movement truthfully stops. I know a particular district where teacher movement in salary is relation to meeting national standards and continued training. Much to the surprise of the people paying the bills, many educators have quickly increased their levels of pay by merely getting credit for what they’ve been doing all along without recognition in anyway.

  3. Tests are not the standards. Tests assess standards. I believe tests should be assessing problem solving and analytical abilities. Let’s do away with multiple choice. That is not a good judgment of understanding of a topic.

    Please stop referring to “teaching to the test” in such a negative light. If I went to Harvard Law, no one would say my professor is “teaching to the test” if the test is assessing what I need to know to successfully complete their class.

    Simply giving kids the answers is what I hear when people say teaching to the test. That of course makes for terrible retention. Problem based learning, discovery learning, etc that covers standards that will be examined is not teaching to the test.

    Assessments should not only be concerned with how high students are scoring, but also the progress that they are making. Certain circumstances in schools and district will dictate how emphasis is placed.

    I’m not sure if I have mentioned this yet, but where and who teachers and teacher should also be a factor in their pay. School and neighborhood crime rates, students socio-economic factors, student learning disabilities, etc should all be taken into pay considerations.

    “Pay bands” would be one way to deal with the costs. There are a lot of other district wastes that should be dealt with as well.

    The merit pay issues sheds light on the fact that one reform one solve the problem. We need to consider many various reforms and the entire culture of the education system. Maybe I’ll do a post on that in the future. It’s far too broad to discuss in a comment.

  4. Tests are not the standards. Tests assess standards. I believe tests should be assessing problem solving and analytical abilities. Let’s do away with multiple choice. That is not a good judgment of understanding of a topic.

    Please stop referring to “teaching to the test” in such a negative light. If I went to Harvard Law, no one would say my professor is “teaching to the test” if the test is assessing what I need to know to successfully complete their class.

    Simply giving kids the answers is what I hear when people say teaching to the test. That of course makes for terrible retention. Problem based learning, discovery learning, etc that covers standards that will be examined is not teaching to the test.

    Assessments should not only be concerned with how high students are scoring, but also the progress that they are making. Certain circumstances in schools and district will dictate how emphasis is placed.

    I’m not sure if I have mentioned this yet, but where and who teachers and teacher should also be a factor in their pay. School and neighborhood crime rates, students socio-economic factors, student learning disabilities, etc should all be taken into pay considerations.

    “Pay bands” would be one way to deal with the costs. There are a lot of other district wastes that should be dealt with as well.

    The merit pay issues sheds light on the fact that one reform one solve the problem. We need to consider many various reforms and the entire culture of the education system. Maybe I’ll do a post on that in the future. It’s far too broad to discuss in a comment.

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