- A Playbook for Building Common Core Support Among Teachers - October 8, 2014
- Shifting Our Mindset Around Teacher Evaluations - September 3, 2014
- A Profession for My Generation - August 19, 2014
- The Difference Between Calculation and Mathematics - August 5, 2014
- Four Little Tips to Transform Your Classroom - August 5, 2014
- Just the Facts: Charter High School Performance in Memphis, TN - July 30, 2014
- Tennessee Education's Perception Problem - July 9, 2014
- Irrational Fears Prevent Real Common Core Progress - June 30, 2014
- Performance Based Tests Take the Guesswork Out of Assessing - June 4, 2014
- Teaching and the Off-Season - May 27, 2014
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I'm someone that needs a good challenge, whether it be in my personal or professional life. I like the thrill of facing a difficult problem and having to come up with a creative solution. For example, possibly my most exciting day this year was when my air conditioning went out and I had to figure out how to translate my carefully planned visuals and drawings to a room without a board!
The challenges inherent in teaching are one of the reasons I continue to do it. Research suggests that our irreplaceable educators share my passion for challenges. They are individuals who crave difficult tasks and find joy in overcoming them. But when the challenges stop, when teaching becomes mundane and routine, they leave the classroom to seek new roles and challenges. As one educator in TNTP's report on irreplaceables said, she felt she had faced down every challenge possible in her classroom and had nothing left to strive for and it was time to move on.
No educator should ever need to feel that teaching has become boring or mundane. To ensure this doesn't happen, it's vital that we work to create systems that offer our best and brightest educators opportunities to continue finding new challenges. To accomplish this, schools should consider creating a career ladder to allow irreplaceable teachers to advance within the profession and assume leadership roles while remaining in the classroom.
Here’s how a teacher career ladder works in concept. All teachers begin at the novice level (Tier I) and then move to the professional level (Tier II) after 2-4 years of extensive development and mentoring. For teachers looking to advance further, ideally our motivated irreplaceable that would otherwise leave the classroom, a master level tier (Tier III) would exist. Tier three should ideal include opportunities for teacher leadership within their school building, at the district level and in creating education policy. Compensation should also increase as a teacher moves up the career ladder to reward educators for taking on additional responsibilities.
Such systems have faced opposition from veteran educators accustomed to the old step and lane salary systems. To diffuse this source of controversy, veteran teachers would be allowed to opt in or out of the system, with new teachers automatically being enrolled in the Tiered system.
Evidence suggests that a career ladder policy similar to the one outlined here would enhance our ability to retain irreplaceables in the classroom. A survey of younger teachers found that most teachers indicating an intention to leave the classroom expressed a desire to continue teaching, so long as they had the ability to take on different roles and challenges within their schools and district. The same teachers indicated that if they choose to leave the teaching profession, it was because they feel stifled and unable to explore other facets of education. Translated; it's not enough for us to just be a classroom teacher. We need and want more.
This policy could also have build in incentives to encourage irreplaceable educators to teach in high need schools. A tiered system could be designed to promote recruitment to high-need schools by making advancement to Tier III and beyond contingent on teaching in a moderate or high-need school. Since those teachers that we consider irreplaceable would likely be those who apply for upper level tiers, this policy could be used to overcome the status quo bias and recruit our irreplaceables into our highest need classrooms. This would also have the added bonus of giving these teachers a new mid-career challenge to keep their energy alive!
Shelby County is fortunate in that a template for this type of career ladder system already exists. A draft plan was presented to the then-Memphis City School Board last year during the merger process. However, it was ultimately voted down because of the cost to the district. But with the Governor declaring his support for growing teacher pay across the state, the time may be ripe to take another look at this approach towards attracting and retaining our best and brightest educators in the classrooms where they are needed the most.
This post originally appeared on bluffcityed.com on 11/11/13[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]