Sunday, June 10, 2012

Australian teachers say no to performance pay!

Good on ya mates. Yes, last week Victorian teachers downed tools and said loud and emphatically NO! to performance pay. It seems that the battle with governments around this issue is widespread and that it rears its ugly head on a regular basis.
The Victorian teachers have taken a stand and I applaud them for this. Why don’t governments get it that if they want better teacher quality and higher achievement for our students do they then put into the system impediments that work against such ideals.
Collegiality is a touch-stone for highly functioning teaching cohorts. Imagine a staff room where one keeps any well planned resources to oneself, merely because in doing so will enhance their position re performance pay. Imagine a staffroom where teachers compete to have higher functioning students in their class because they wish to appear to have made gains with their students.
Why would teachers be different to other groups who compete in a work place? If we want that culture in our schools we can say goodbye to the excellent relationships we have in most schools. The argument that teaching is a ‘calling’ has some merit, but it ignores that fact that teachers are just like any other sector of society and that they exhibit the full range of personality types and qualities. That we are some sort of ‘super group above such selfishness when it comes to sharing and caring, is nothing more than delusion.
Yes, find ways to reward and keep excellent teachers in the classroom and not promote them to ‘beyond the classrooms,’ if that is what they want, but don’t throw into the mix something that will turn our schools into a hotbed of intrigue and selfishness.

Now, lets see an improvement in the quality of teachers!

The government has reversed its plans to increase class sizes after a determined campaign by teachers, parents and other educational sector interest groups. Their own polling must have led them to this decision but I believe they have merely put the idea on hold.
 They claim that they wanted to improve the quality of teaching and very few of us would disagree with that. How they were going to achieve this goal though is less clear. They now have an opportunity to engage with the relevant parties and to listen and come out a consensus about what and how this should be achieved.
Unfortunately one gets the distinct impression that the Government, namely Paramata and Key will come to this discussion with ruffled feathers and not genuinely engage. They are still driven by ‘treasury’ which limits their scope and vision.
Teacher groups are as concerned about teacher quality as the Government. No one wants students leaving school, ill-equipped to face the world of work. Such an outcome seriously affects NZ’s ability to function in a competitive world. We need to raise the standard for entry into our training institutions and make entry level pay more attractive. Teachers entering our schools also need to be far more techno-savvy, to build on a well-balanced understanding of the skills they will need to impart to their students.
Once the Government licks its wounds it must come back to the table and start listening to more than their tame lackeys and take on a much wider view from a pool of experts that NZ is renowned for.