Back in May, the Australian Federal Government Budget 2011 announced the funding for $425 million over four years to reward top performing teachers.
I applaud the intent to improve teaching and learning. But if you have a scheme that rewards teachers individually, how do you measure that? How do you assess a teachers performance?
Do you reward Year 12 teachers for the marks their students get? What about the teachers that taught the students in the years before and the hard yards that they did with learning difficulties and individualised learning plans in order to get the kids to Year 12?
Do you also reward the people who work in student services for the mentoring they provide for the students or the library staff who help to improve the research skills of the students? What about the teachers that work in pastoral care, the ones that help to support good organisational habits or that encourage students to bounce back from an unsatisfactory result on a test or assignment?
How do you assess a teachers performance individually? What performance indicators can we quantitatively measure? Because comparing "Year 7 2011" with "Year 7 2012" is quite hard ...
So do you measure the top performing teachers on their ability to turn up to school on time, submit reports on time, publish articles in journals or on the more qualitative characteristics of the job such as their ability to conduct a parent teacher interview?
I am interested as to how the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership might identify a "top performing teacher". On their web site they have National Professional Standards for Teachers. But how do you then reward teachers, in some cases upto 10% of a teachers earning, based on this. Will it create a compeditiveness within a school which is counter productive to good teaching and learning?
Teaching for 16 years has taught me that teaching is a team sport. That without the pastoral care, library staff, technicians and support staff, my ability to deliver my curriculum is diminished.
If you speak to teachers about what impacts on their ability to provide an excellent teaching and learning environment, many will talk about the access to resources, clean and healthy teaching spaces and the time to design and delivery quality curriculum.