Put Your $$ Where Your Teachers Are.

Ontario special education teacher, Shannon Smith, blogged a familiar whine about staff development in schools.

I’m currently working on some new tools for evaluating the business model of independent schools. Independent schools typically look at revenue or cash flow per per student–“bums-in-seats”–as their chief economic denominator. I wonder how things would change if they instead considered cash flow or revenue per teacher.

It seems to me that if schools want to systematically increase that number over time, they would have to invest more in better hiring and in staff development: the school’s reputation and business success depends on the success of it’s teachers, not the other way around. Schools would need to give teachers time and resources to develop good curriculum and teaching practices and a place to promote them–the read-write-web seems the natural place for this. There should be a positive feedback loop here: schools that give resources to teachers ought to attract good teachers who want to exploit those resources.

In return, teachers would be expected to do more than teach; they’d be expected to innovate. Part of a teacher’s job, and part of their performance evaluation, comes from contributions they’ve made to the school in particular and education in general.

It’s a win-win deal. Teachers get a job that is challenging and exciting and let’s them feel involved in their profession as professionals. School administration gets everyone working strategically. Students get better teachers.

The biggest challenge I see to adopting this model is that it dramatically changes the structure of schools, especially large schools where development and marketing are concentrated in adminstration.

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