Satisfaction as Merit Pay

There has been a lot of talk about “merit pay” for teachers. I’m not here to debate the idea but I can tell you it has existed for years. I know because I have received it. You might wonder just how much I got. Well, it hasn’t been monetary. I hope this post is a bit more colorful than bragging about incentive money. For me, merit pay comes through watching kids “get it.” Let me elaborate. This is my audio visual desk where I do most of my teaching from. I also use a Mobi to travel around the classroom and control the laptop as well as the LCD projector remotely. These are all great tools but without a lesson plan strategy like EDI and a daily plan of what I plan to teach and assess, the fancy gadgets mean nothing.

That’s why I treat every day as an achievable goal. I sketch out the focused objectives, aka standards, I will teach through explicit direct instruction, focusing mainly on guided practice. After I assess through the use of whiteboards, I can see who is getting it and who needs more guided help. At that point, the ones getting it, in theory 70% of the kids, go to independent practice while I take the struggling ones to the side where I have a large whiteboard and a kidney table. As you can see, the “audio visual” equipment is not my primary tool for teaching. The most effective tool is knowing what they will learn and how they will show they know it. From there it is pretty much like washing clothes: Wash, dry, rinse, repeat. This is a simple vignette of what I and millions of teachers do every day. Sure, some do it differently than me but if you are true to your intrinsic values, you are always inventing, creating, revising. If you do it right, the kids advance. In my opinion, the thrill and satisfaction of that is the best “merit pay” of teaching.

Author: Damien Riley

Having been a public school teacher since 1997, I've gained valuable classroom experience. Sometimes a great tool is a dynamite lesson plan. These posts are from a real teaching journey. I hope they inspire you. Thanks for reading!

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