Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Merit Pay....Really?

Steve Wampler Photography
Do you know of anyone who went into teaching for the money? Don't get me wrong, I am all for paying us more but most teachers are not motivated by cash. In fact, according to the research people in general are inspired by things other than money. Daniel Pink says what really drives us is autonomy. I would like to add to that recognition, relevance, and appreciation. Even though most educators I know would take a bullet for their kids, they are not martyrs. Pleasers? Possibly.  Suckers? Absolutely. Gratitude gluttons? Come on, who isn't? 

Nine out of ten teachers surveyed say they went into teaching to make a difference, one child at a time. 

Photo by: Megan Black
So when the powers that be talk of education reform and motivating teachers why not use reason and listen to the research. If you want to see us perform better give us the support we need.  Motivate us with merit autonomy. Give us the "Google Twenty Percent Time" during the school day or week. (More things to do at home on our sofa do not count.) Most of us would happily chew gravel to have a week, free from the burdens of standardized testing, meetings, and curriculum mandates. Where we could decide how best spend our time or  improve our instructional ideas.

If you really want to rock our world, give us 3-5 days a school year to select our own professional developments and send us to them. Gratis. With a seasoned substitute at the helm in our absence. 

Merit Massages would be nice too. A brief thank you note will turn a teacher's day around. Coffee... Chocolate... Scotch... 


  1. Well stated!

    Teachers must be given the time and support to continue improving. Like our students, we are motivated by autonomy, relevance, and (recognized) competence.

    No teacher wants to fail. Teachers now have to use their "free time" to pursue self-directed PD. Luckily many of these teachers are sharing their learning via Twitter and Blogs, making this process more transparent (which SHOULD lead to shifts in policy).

  2. Full disclosure, I do advocate for merit pay. I believe great teachers should be paid like administrators.

    Great teachers spread knowledge and energy in ways that those outside a classroom cannot. Simply a stipend for effective leadership and ingenuity would be a noble start