We have some great teachers in schools, but let's face it we also have some mediocre ones. So how should teachers be 'rewarded' for excellence and what would 'excellence' look like?
Many companies have a component of their salary that is 'at risk', depending on performance. My experience with this is that it doesn't necessarily make a difference to performance and indicators are often inexact and based on linear thinking. Even companies that focus on a quadruple bottom line fdo not always identify what makes a difference. Internationally, organisations have typically bowed to CEOs by supporting large bonuses for dubious success. This has led to a breed of business executives who are greedy, self serving and sometimes dishonest. Is this the model we would want in our schools? Do we want individuals to focus on the team or on themselves? It is an interesting debate and one that I do not have an answer for.
There is no doubt however, that we need to manage talent more powerfully in order to maintain the great teacher leaders in the profession. I recently conducted a survey on twtpoll asking how great teachers should be recognised. Although the sample is small it makes for interesting reading.
People do want recognition. They do need to feel valued by the organisation and to feel that they are listened to. With an increasingly diverse workforce employers do need to be more flexible, be open to different work combinations and provide for the ongoing learning of staff. If principals, and other organisational leaders, don't get this right they may find themselves with disengaged staff or those whose performance is questionable. In difficult times it is even more important that we keep our staff growing and building their skills.
Some schools would say they need to focus on the development of the team more than the individual and I do support the need to build a strong professional learning community. As well though (not instead of), schools need to think differently about growing staff. Maybe there is more opportunity for staff to be individual contractors and being paid accordingly. Or is it time to work hard to support all teachers to be of an exceptional standard? And to suggest that some teachers might be better suited to other occupations? In my book teachers are role models who make a difference to students - either positively or negatively - and all teachers need to be competent leaders of themselves and others. Principals must provide strong professional learning opportunities, confront poor performance and develop leadership in others. Or get out of the way of the future.