Highly regarded educator Professor Michael Fullan recently commented on what can be done in the U.S. to raise the profile of the teaching profession. The comments also have relevance to the respect shown to the profession in Australia.
“When you look at Finland, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong, all of which have high quality teachers, you will see that it’s not just that they have good teachers, but also because they have improved the whole profession. It’s a combination of incen
tivizing teachers and improving working conditions. Teacher’s salaries have been going up in the U.S., so it’s not just about teachers’ salaries. It is more about the respect for teachers, the quality of their preparation, the working conditions, and enabling teachers to work together.”
Fullan goes on to advocate that the “way to improve the quality of teaching is through teamwork in the schools, and then surround it with better teacher pre-service, better attraction of the profession, and better professional development. Those surrounding things are enablers rather than causes, and the core cause is to improve the profession itself. You have to improve the entire teaching profession, not just reward the top 20 percent and punish the bottom 20 percent. You have to improve the daily work of all teachers, which is what we are doing in Ontario.”
The Federal government in Australia has made commitments to some form of performance based pay for teachers. I believe that Fullan’s approach has wider merit but needs to be implemented with a more thorough approach to feedback for teachers.
One of the key role’s of school leaders is to help teachers to be the BEST teacher they can be. Most teachers operate in a void and receive little or no feedback. Whilst initially daunting, addressing this issue can actually boost staff morale as the efforts of the vast majority of teachers would be recognised and appreciated. What are your thoughts?