Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rewarding the best?

In a previous school I did a workshop with John Littleford about different methods of remunerating teachers.  He gave examples of pay scales from different schools and showed us how to "read" them to know what the schools valued.  Some schools wanted to reward advanced degrees, others wanted to reward experience at different schools, others again wanted to reward experience at their own school.  I thought about this workshop again this week when I read a BBC article about how schools in the UK don't reward the best head teachers.  The interesting thing about this was the way the author divided up the head teachers based on 5 leadership types:
  • The Philosophers - these are the largest group of head teachers in the UK who see themselves as senior teachers.  Their focus is pedagogy and they don't change much about the student body or the staffroom.  Generally they are seen as inspirational, though they have only a marginal impact on exam results.
  • The Surgeons - these head teachers try to turn around (failing) schools by excluding students and driving resources from the youngest into the oldest students.  These head teachers make improvements by firing around 10% of their staff.  They have an immediate and dramatic impact in the short term (around a 10% improvement per year in exam results).
  • The Architects - these head teachers are planners who work on improving standards of behaviour first, and then on improving teaching second.  These heads focus on improving relations with parents and the community.  They also slowly replace poorly performing staff. Architects make progress on both school finances and exam results.
  • The Soldiers - these head teachers are often employed to cut costs because of budget issues.
  • The Accountants - also focus on turning around finances.  They do this by increasing enrolment in order to improve the financial balance of the school.
Now this is what is interesting - those head teachers who are seen as "Surgeons" earn the most in the UK, those who are "Philosophers" earn only about 2/3rds of the salary of the "Surgeons" with "Soldiers" and "Accountants" getting slightly less.  The head teachers who earn the least in the UK are the "Architects".  Despite this, the "Surgeons" are NOT the best for the long-term growth of the school.  They invest aggressively in those students about to take exams (so scores rise rapidly in their first 2 years) and at the same time exclude the trouble makers - about 28% of those in their final year at school - which also boost the exam results of those who do survive the year and take the exams. However these results are not sustainable.  Often the "Surgeons" do a 2 year stint in a school, and in the year they leave the school's results decline rapidly because the resources have been removed from the younger children - who are now the older children and whose education was damaged by the earlier cuts when resources were diverted away from them.   Meanwhile, it is the "Architects" schools, with the slow and steady approach, who are now continuing to improve above those with the other types of leadership.  In addition the "Architects" have been attracting students whose parents want to use them - on average they only expel 1% of all pupils.  If success is measured in GCSE results - then the architects' schools are doing the best - 5 years after these head teachers are appointed these schools are still growing and delivering a good education to a higher proportion of students.

These results are interesting - since those who bring about short-term gains are rewarded much higher than those who bring about long-term ones.  In fact the "Architects" are penalised in terms of salary.  Another interesting trend is that those head teachers who exclude the most pupils are the ones who are paid the most.  Another interesting fact I gleaned from this article is the type of people who end up in these head teacher roles:  the "Philosophers" are mostly English teachers, the "Surgeons" are mostly PE teachers, and the "Architects" are mostly history and economics teachers.

What do you think of these findings?  Does anything here resonate with you?

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon Flickr via Compfight cc  This photo is of a school playground in New York.

Monday, October 17, 2016

What is a million?

Once, when I was a Grade 5 teacher, it was my job to teach place value up to one million.  That's such a huge number to imagine that it's best to break it down into actual "things" that students can visualise.  For example:

  • It's the amount of letters in a 600 page book.
  • It's the number of seconds in 11 and a half days.
  • It's the number of times a car tyre rotates when you drive from Amsterdam to Lisbon.
  • It's the number of millimetres in a kilometre.
And as of today, it's the number of people who have read my blog.

Thanks to each and every one of you for keeping me going!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Free is a nice price

My son, a Millennial, has changed jobs several times since he left university 4 years ago and embarked on a graduate scheme with Lloyds.  It seems that as soon as he has mastered one aspect of the job he wants to either move up or move sideways to learn new things.  He's not the only one of his generation doing this - apparently Millennials change jobs around once every 2.5 years during the first 10 years of work.

I'm interested in the recruitment, retention and development of teachers, having studied this on R&D for the past 2 years and been involved in the initial prototypes of the Global Recruitment Collaborative.  One thing is sure - salary is not a big factor in determining whether employees decide to stay or leave.  In fact a recent article on LinkedIn points to the fact that people leave jobs because they want new challenges and responsibilities - in a nutshell they want to develop themselves further.

I've started to think about how often teachers are given opportunities for learning something new within the schools where they are working.  In my case, my first international school encouraged me to develop in many directions - from starting as a high school teacher, to moving down into elementary, and finally to taking a role in the tech department.  Most of the schools where I've worked have given me opportunities to get involved in new things, and reflecting on this I would say I've been blessed, because many teachers who are hired as, for example, a high school geography teachers end up teaching that subject for the entire time they work at the school.

I was recently reading about the Google "bungee program" - which allows employees a chance to try out new positions within the company rather than forcing them to look outside for new opportunities. Bungee program employees take part in a temporary job placement to develop new skills.  A similar initiative,  started by Hootsuite, is called the "stretch program" and allows top performing employees the opportunity to work one day per week in a new team for a period of 3 months, after which, if everything is working out, the decision could be made to jump full-time into a new role.  Even if the employee decides to stay in his or her current role,  there is still a lot of benefit to knowing more about another area of the business.  Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, writes "Giving employees a chance to truly grow - without having to pull up stakes and leave the company - is a common-sense tactic to attract and keep great talent."

I'm thinking about this - and how it could possibly apply to schools.

However for those teachers who have decided to move on, maybe the Global Recruitment Collaborative fair in Dubai might be interesting.  It's the world's first free face-to-face job fair for international educators and it's taking place from November 12th - 14th - so quite a bit earlier than the other recruitment fairs.  Currently there are about 90 international schools across the globe recruiting through the GRC, with about half of them coming to Dubai to interview candidates.  It's possible to come to this job fair, even if you don't currently work in a GRC school.  And since free is a very nice price - if you are thinking of changing job this year, what do you have to lose.

For more information about the GRC click here.