Bring Santa to teachers this festive season

While celebrations and relaxation are in high gear, some schools are up to their necks with interviews and recruitment of teachers as this is usually the teacher turn-over season. Indeed, nothing is as disheartening to school administrators as receiving a notice of exit or transfer from the most effective teacher. But as it is, we often realise the true value of what we have when we have lost it.

I guess the big question is how to attract and retain excellent teachers to prevent the end of year turnovers, especially in private institutions of learning. Well, the answer to this is easier said than done: reward master teachers who keep growing and evolving, organise timely and consistent professional development trainings that address teacher’s needs, have periodic check-ins with the teachers to commend them for the good work and to find out what help they need, and gift them on special occasions, like Christmas.

The greatest fallacy of all times in our school system is that the longer you teach, the higher the pay. Most institutions do not have yearly pay rise policy. Those that do, usually have ridiculously low percentages that make no difference. Considering this, institutions should scale teachers’ salaries according to experience and performance. Besides, the good teachers should be promoted to senior positions as recognition of their great contributions. Imagine teaching in an institution for close to six years with the same salary and no promotion whatsoever.

Another thing that should be done is teacher professional development support. Learning is an endless venture. The more the trainings, especially now with the new competency based system, the more effective teachers will be in their classes. In such trainings, they should be allowed to reflect on their teaching and trained on effective instructional and classroom management strategies. Institutions should create friendly environments where peers can freely share what works or doesn’t work in the classroom. Teachers should feel free to ask for help when they need it and to share their brilliant ideas with colleagues.

Finally, be generous with your praises to teachers. Everybody warms up to complements; a simple pat on the back may be all a teacher needs to keep on. On a grand level though, you may want to recognise the teacher of the year, term or trimester, or to provide holiday coupons for shopping or at least groceries, especially for this festive season. A kilo of sugar, litre of oil or anything affordable would be a good gesture, especially now. In the words of Steve Maraboli, a radio commentator, “A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”

Excellent teachers are priceless. Now that we know this to be true, is it possible for us to train, reward and fully support them to be better than their best? It is never too late to start, so do not be a bystander — go and make Santa happen.