Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.


Trying Not to Leave the Classroom

As a teacher who is trying his hardest not to leave the public classroom, despite pulls in every direction, allow me to paint a picture:


teacher salary house price.001

Second, paying me more won’t produce smarter, more creative students. If I knew how to do that, I’d already be doing it. That’s why teachers are non-invisible-handian. You know, like roads, hospitals, schools, healthcare (should be, cough), Internet access …

However, the mindset of the previous sentence would be a lot easier to maintain–and stomach–if the pay weren’t such that most teachers had to have at least two jobs.

Hence, the argument for higher teacher pay: we’ll stay in the classroom longer, rather than jumping ship when our salary schedule is incremented less than inflation (i.e. making less the older I get, like my second year of teaching)

In other words, it’s not student achievement you’re directly paying for, it’s avoiding turnover.

“Maybe that’s not a bad thing?” you say. “Some of my best teachers were young and excitable.” You opine.

That may be, and we definitely need to look into teacher retention and dismissal, but, as someone who educates educators, the first few formative years of teaching are when teachers create their understand of teaching students instead of presenting content. We want our students to avoid experiencing teachers of content as much as possible, and high turnover is a fantastic way to screw that up.

Iowa is trying some really interesting things right now. Here’s the first set of bullet points from the Governor Branstad’s most recent press release:

  • Raise Iowa’s minimum starting salary from $28,000 to $35,000 to make teaching more attractive.
  • Keep top teachers in front of children, but pay these teacher leaders more to take on more instructional leadership responsibility alongside school administrators, which will strengthen teaching throughout the building. Teachers who are selected for model, mentor and lead roles will be paid more for sharing their expertise and for working additional days to coach, co-teach and to foster collaboration among all educators.
  • Give brand-new teachers a reduced teaching load in their first year so they can spend more time learning from outstanding veteran teachers.

Did you laugh at the first point? Yeah, Iowa is different.

The second one is causing quite a bit of vitriol in the state. Who gets to move up the ranks? Who has good lessons? How many of these special teachers per building? District? That said, I’m a fan of the idea, and would have loved a dedicated mentor who had time to be in my room during years 1 and 2.

Finally, the third point is Juinor/Senior-worthy, but it’s really is asking the question: how do we pay people and get them the experience they should be getting during student teaching?

Let me know what you think, I’ll be meeting with the state department of ed this week.


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Shawn Cornally • February 10, 2013

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