School improvement and teacher motivation
One of the main reasons for school improvement is teachers themselves—they can spark school improvements and they do spark school improvements, when they see the positive results of school improvement efforts within their school. Students benefit from the knowledge that teachers desire and have a driving motivation for achieving school improvement results. These valuable resources begin at a very young age and can improve schools before it is too late. In an effort to optimize the effectiveness of teacher motivation, teachers might learn a thing or two about how they can improve their own efforts.
Are There Methods to Increase Morale?
The goals of increasing morale at school-based implementation of effective school improvement programs are threefold. First, a district’s and school’s budget must be supported so that teachers have the resources to perform and advance their work. Second, school improvement efforts must have sufficient teachers and administrator support. Finally, the school’s leadership and administration should ensure that those gains are being made in a deliberate and systematic manner. The first step in this process is for school management to ensure that, to the extent possible, teachers can find adequate resources within the budget.
If teachers cannot find resources within the budget, then at least the first step is correct. However, if teachers believe they are unfulfilled because they do not find their professional development times on the calendar with the proper immediacy, then the problem is not the funds, it is the administration’s treatment of teachers. Here, data help:
The cost of a conference at a local university and its associated administrative expenses costs $182 per teacher. The cost of additional out-of-state conferences for the same time exceeds $520. To each teacher $1,117 can be lost.
The cost of a professional development session at a local university is $41 per day per teacher; additional expenses at out-of-state locations total more than $88. To each teacher $2,720 can be lost.
To each teacher $9,000 can be lost if an outside conference takes place during a school day.
This spending is more expensive than the cost of a professional development day at a local university and teacher cost for additional day-long conference stays outside the parameters of the school’s budget.
A total loss of more than $17,000 per teacher per year on professional development events outside the school’s budget.
In light of the above information, there are additional ways to aid teachers with their recruitment and retention of motivated employees:
Develop a system of reward and recognition for teachers who are especially committed to improving their school’s performance. The current atmosphere of negative performance can make new teachers far less likely to provide the active effort needed to improve school performance. To help develop motivated individuals, encourage and reward them when they do make great efforts to maintain, improve, and expand their school’s performance.
Instruct teachers to incorporate some educational research into their teaching plans. This can both prepare teachers for the rigors of effective instructional teaching but can also cultivate greater trust and cooperation between teachers and help them understand that their contributions to the school are equally important.
Help teachers become more engaged with school improvement efforts. This can occur in many ways. Be sure teachers have incentive to follow the direction of their school and school staff. Provide teachers with information to make practical decisions about how to engage the students in school improvement efforts.
Employ teachers’ skills that they have demonstrated to increase their learning throughout their careers and teach students who are likely to benefit from these added skills. This can require teachers to have short time-off from their jobs, reduce some costs, and provide their students with greater educational opportunities.
Use student involvement in school improvement efforts as a means to develop and sustain loyalty among teachers. Students can practice these activities by participating in meeting with their teachers, asking their teachers questions, offering feedback, and getting involved in school improvement. Examples are; a significant number of students volunteer in a bank and subsequently participate in financial literacy efforts; students in a veterinary school experience seeing what veterinarians do when they are not at the clinic, and then promote similar values to their own students; and a student in a science school spends about one class period a day engaged in hands-on activities related to the science classes in which he/she is enrolled.
Experience, innovative ideas, proven approaches, and realistic budgets for teacher professional development are the keys to educating and caring for students as motivated and responsible contributors to school improvement efforts.
Image: Flickr/Brian Markgraf