I was listening to NJ 101.5 this morning on the way to work because my carpool had it on. To answer a few questions, I am a liberal democrat, but this one thing stood out after this lady spoke about how would one give incentives and rewards to excellent teachers given that it depends on how well the teacher is doing. Taking in consideration that that teacher could be teaching a whole smorgasporg (sp?) of classes- from honors to remedial classes. How would one standardize or make an accurate assessment? The big question. I am not here to debate, just ponder. The radio host quipped back later on a really simple retort, about a teacher who always hoisted his feet on the table during class and smoked in between classes. Obviously that is a mark of a not so stellar teacher and his example does not help the proposed argument at all.
I am not arguing against incentives, I think it is really really important to reward stellar teachers, the question is how to go about it. They commented on the fact that the union is against this against that, etc. I am not part of the teacher’s union nor am I a teacher, but is that the most they can do? Argue that it is because of the unions?
In any case, one of the things that could help, and not help, is the students and what they are learning from that teacher. That would probably be a base start to look. It won’t help if the teacher was somewhat lax and the students all proclaim the teacher as awesome and phenomenal because the said teacher let them off the hook. But more likely a teacher that really shakes them to the core, (got that from Dr. West! ha!) who is difficult in grading but still enforces and reinforces the learning process. Lofty ideals, I know.
An issue is that we are all looking at the grades and scores to be As and/or some exemplary digit. Don’t get me wrong, I think those are important, but a question comes to mind, are students learning for learning or are they learning for the grade. Longitudinally, what is the information that the students learned over the course of the class year? What are they doing with that specific information to incorporate into their being? How has that one teacher sparked that intellectual curiosity? I believe grades and scores should be included with the determination the decision to give incentives and rewards to stellar teachers, only on the condition that those grades translate longitudinally. How many of us crammed for the test just to get an A and then forget? Cramming is great for short term memory recall, but is forgotten afterwards. Would those standardized tests that high school students take help or work to that? Maybe. There was an article about the creator of the Princeton Review, state that the SATs are useless. Which I also believe as well.
So I am curious on how they will go about towards giving rewards and incentives to the stellar teachers. I really want those teachers to be rewarded, but the real interesting part is how they will determine it.