"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, December 1, 2017

"Attracting and Retaining Good Teachers"

Teachers spend on a variety of things including travel abroad. Philippines Secretary of Education Leonor Briones adds, "There’s nothing wrong in traveling abroad but what is the choice that you will make? They have to make financial choices among themselves." These statements make it seem that the financial problems faced by public school teachers in the Philippines are simply due to teachers spending beyond their means. It is downright insulting. And it simply goes against efforts to attract talent and skills toward the teaching profession. In these efforts, what a leader in a school system says or does is consequential. Indeed, in Daniel A. Heller's book, "Attracting and Retaining Good Teachers", the key role played by a school administrator is highlighted. Respect counts a lot in any profession.

Above copied from ASCD

The importance of respect in the teaching profession, however, is so much more than just an opinion. It is in fact supported by research. 

Seong Won Han, Francesca Borgonovi, Sonia Guerriero in "What Motivates High School Students to Want to Be Teachers? The Role of Salary, Working Conditions, and Societal Evaluations About Occupations in a Comparative Perspective" find that how much respect a society gives to the teaching profession is an important factor on whether a promising student will choose to become a teacher or not. Published in the American Educational Research Journal, the paper summarizes findings from data obtained from 60 education systems worldwide:
  1. Almost half of 15-year olds across the globe aspire to finish college, but only 10% of these adolescents are considering a career in teaching. Those who wish to become teachers are weaker in mathematics than those who are looking at a different profession.
  2. In all education systems, students are more likely to consider becoming a teacher if teacher salaries are higher.
  3. Whether the teaching job requires less or more hours is not a factor.
Higher salaries do attract students to the teaching profession but what is more interesting is the type of students higher salaries attract. This positive correlation between salary and career expectation is present only among low and middle-achieving students. Talent is not apparently swayed by a higher salary. However, one interpretation provided by the authors is the idea that teaching in these countries is seen as a "fall-back" option. Students therefore are considering to become a teacher because they do not see themselves qualified enough for other professions such as physicians or engineers. Thus, the authors still conclude:
"Consistent with previous research, our study has shown that task returns (salaries) have a role to play when it comes to making teaching a more attractive career choice, but other factors are also important."
What are the other factors? Here is what the authors state in their conclusion:
We find that in countries where a higher proportion of the population values a job because it commands respect and because it has responsibility, students are more likely to expect to work as teachers.
Education secretary Briones is clearly doing the opposite of what it takes to attract talent toward the teaching profession.

This is sad.

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