In today’s school system where ‘no child is left behind’; the teacher is set up for failure. Combined with achieving metrics on standard testing scores; these extrinsic motivators seem to be the only thing presented to teachers today. They are expected to be high quality teachers who are able to inspire, mentor, design and align lessons, differentiate instruction, craft assessments, analyze data, grade homework, connect with parents, enforce discipline, promote fitness, cultivate a love of learning, write individualized education programs, and so on.
Look at what we are expecting of our teachers today, and how we are trying to motivate them. The joy of teaching students to make their own decisions and succeed in life seems to be gone. Perhaps it is time to rethink the teaching job itself so that more people might do it well. One idea is to create more specific teaching jobs so that each teacher isn’t asked to excel at so many different tasks on a day to day basis.
The idea is to revamp the job in a way that allows individual teachers to spend more time doing what they’re best at. Rocketship Education (www. rsed. org) is an example of a high-performance charter school that uses a hybrid model of classroom instruction, real-time assessments, and customized, supplementary services in its “learning lab. ” Using this type of a method means that the actual tasks that each teacher must do have been recreated.
It allows the teacher to concentrate on coaching, motivating, instructing and problem solving around student issues and needs. In Boston, there are examples of Citizen Schools (www. citizenschools. org) which provide a new idea of who can teach. These schools leverage local professionals on a part-time basis to teach on specific topics and areas of expertise. These examples suggest opportunities to expand and better use the pool of teaching talent through smart differentiation and specialization.
These methods use intrinsic motivation to increase teaching effectiveness by allowing autonomy for teachers to instruct students in the topics that they have an affinity for. It seems that current standard practice in schools has all teachers—regardless of skill or demonstrated performance—taking equal turns monitoring the lunchroom, supervising bus loading, patrolling the hallways, filling out stacks of mandated paperwork, and the rest. Increase in effectiveness would be shown by allowing more specialization.