I’ll start this blog by stating the obvious – I’m not a fan of the current structure of teacher valuation and pay in Ontario. This sentiment regularly horrifies my husband, who is also a teacher – and happens to be a union rep at our school.
I’d actually be an advocate of teacher performance pay of some kind, but that’s a topic for another blog…
In case you’re wondering if this is a personal vendetta due to being on Ford’s chopping block – it’s not. I have over 15 years experience, and I’m a department head, so my job is safe. But as a teacher who values other great educators doing amazing things in their classrooms and schools, I’m furious.
I’m not sold on the idea that quantity of teaching years correlates in any way to the quality of instruction a teacher provides to their students or what they contribute to the school community as a whole. In short, quantity of teaching years does not equal quality of teaching skills.
Sure, the first year or two of teaching is a learning experience, but once you’re passed that hump, teachers usually end up in one of two categories: those who are constantly learning and growing as educators all the while fully engaging in school life – and those who view teaching as a ‘paycheque’.
This train of thought is most likely derived from my experience and training as an athlete and coach. I believe that if you work hard and are successful, you should be rewarded. Simply ‘existing’ is not enough.
We see this philosophy played out regularly in the world of sports – players and coaches are regularly removed from positions if they are ineffective at their jobs/roles on a team. There is a constant pressure to perform well or to be…eliminated.
Many other professions and careers also follow the performance based assessment model (especially any kind of business), but teaching – although it is arguably one of our most important professions as a society – does not.
In the teaching world, once you’re ‘in’, it’s very hard to be…removed. You need to do something REALLY stupid (and serious) to lose your job. Simple incompetence, complacency or poor performance is never enough – oh – an did I mention that regardless of performance you get a raise every year until you max out your salary? Go figure…
So, other than the illogical notion that ‘years’ invested in the classroom make teachers more valuable as educators – what other evidence is there to support keeping only veteran teachers in classrooms across Ontario? In my opinion – none, nada, zilch.
This isn’t to say there aren’t many stellar veteran teachers out there – we all know there are. However, what should make these teachers valuable is their performance, contribution to school communities and professional learning growth – not the fact that they have ‘x’ number of years of experience.
In actuality, there are probably more logical arguments to keep ‘rookie’ teachers in the classroom – especially those who are beyond 1 or 2 years of experience. These teachers are paid less ($$$ savings), have a more current education in instructional pedagogy, are more closely monitored and evaluated by administration due to their initiation period, are more keen to try new teaching methods and usually participate more often in extracurricular school activities.
Removing exclusively young teachers from schools in Ontario will have serious negative detrimental impacts on students and schools. Younger teachers provide a rush of energy to a school staff, bring with them new ideas and resources and as previously mentioned take on a heavier load coaching, running school clubs and volunteering at school activities.
As a teacher, parent and Ontario tax payer – I don’t buy the argument that only ‘veteran’ teachers are valuable to our education system based solely on their years of service. If Premier Ford is planning on cutting teaching jobs to the degree that he’s suggested, then he also needs to take a look at who he wants to keep in classrooms.
Moreover, as a teaching profession, perhaps we need to ask some hard questions about who we want representing our vocation if there are only so many jobs to fill:
Do we want the best, highest performing teachers in Ontario classrooms, or the ones with the most years in the system?
What does a ‘high performing’ teacher look like, and how can that be measured?
What matters to us as a profession – quantity of service or quality of service?
These aren’t easy questions to answer – and I absolutely don’t have answers for them. What I do know is that come June, Premier Ford will be causing school boards to issue pink slips to many young, engaging, effective and amazing teachers and that makes me very sad – but also angry for them.
Why are young/less experienced teachers losing their jobs when there are veteran teachers that exist who are performing poorly or complacently, making more money, and don’t have to worry about a pink slip? It’s just not fair…
What are your thoughts on the valuation of veteran vs. rookie teachers? It’s a hot topic. Comment below.