Invest in teachers that are doing a really good job
As I am reaching later in my career of being an educator, this statement really resonates with me. I have always gone back to the quote my father used to say: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. That has been a tenant to my life for years and you see it in play so often. We see it in politics, business, personal life and in schools. Generally when we look at schools we are thinking students or parents but what about the teachers??? Does the squeaky wheel get the grease? But are we squeaky wheels or quiet survivors.
Over the years, I have been the ear for many colleagues. I have that face where people just tell me everything. I have been the support to them and helped guide them through the difficult times with students, class loads and even administration. But what I have really noticed is how many teachers just quietly make do or survive without being the squeaky wheel. Does this benefit us. are we just forgetting about ourselves... Nobody wants to be a whiner but the squeaky wheel gets the grease...?
So, then I started looking at the stats of how many teachers leave the profession after 10 or more successful years. It is astonishing. University McGill is saying 30% leave and the University of Alberta pegs it closer to 40%. So why are they leaving???? I think because they are not able to be the squeaky wheel. They don't promote the amazing things they are doing every day and the admin doesn't promote them either. They are just doing their job and so why say its special. But they are special and amazing because they are doing a good job as a teacher. Whether it’s a kinder teacher having lunch with a different student once a week, a math teacher who uses hands on projects, a middle school teacher who uses nature to teach all classes or even a high school teacher with full classes because it’s a fun class. These are all examples of amazing teachers but they are just doing their job.
How can we promote the good teachers and keep them in the profession they love? They are committed to doing it despite the wage, workload, politics and stress. So, those aren't the reasons they leave. I think it is because they feel under appreciated. So, what should we be doing to help the good feel appreciated... That is the question. It is the same question you face in your classrooms. How do we reach the good students if the majority of time goes to the squeaky wheel (whatever that is in your class).
I don't have the answers but it does make me wonder. I do see some teachers now using social media to share their ideas and successes but maybe the schools should be shouting it out on their webpages or Twitter or apps. Is there an award for the good teacher in your school? Do your admins talk about those doing a good job all along? Let’s start a club or twitter group #good teachers. Let’s send them a card saying thanks or just tell them they are awesome.