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If we make teaching a more financially attractive career, will it improve global education?

Following up from the honor of being selected in Huffington Post’s Top 12 Global Education Blogs from 2014 through 2017, I have been chosen again in this amazing group and for 2018 will be contributing to Huffington Post’s Education blog once a month. This month, we look at the following highly controversial topic: “If we make teaching a more financially attractive career will it improve global education overall?” – here is my response:

Back in April, I was fortunate enough to travel to London to lead workshops and take part in a TES debate on teacher retention. One of the largest factors that always comes up is pay (as highlighted here in a large-scale survey I shared) as it is widely thought to significantly impact teacher retention and the profession globally. Soon after my workshops, I joined in a discussion with my global colleague, Dr. Jennifer Williams, education strategist and professor, to review and share thoughts on this recent TIME Magazine article.

To better understand how currently practicing teachers around the world feel about this issue, we took the conversation to Twitter. Through a series of guiding questions, educators were invited to jump in and share their thoughts in the global education Twitter chat, #whatisschool. And, with over 500 tweets shared in only one hour, it was evident this topic is on the minds of educators regardless of location or number of years in the profession.

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Several themes evolved upon review of the transcript. First off, teachers are quite a passionate bunch! Grounded in purpose, they are driven to make a positive change in the lives of children and in our world. And, for many that offered comments during the chat, it was clear, they simply wanted to help and to inspire others.

As we moved to questions of pay, educators comments interestingly did not necessarily focus on money, but instead on the topic of value. Many expressed feeling appreciated–most notably by students–, but undervalued–in particular with their local and global communities. Societal recognition, respect, and commitment to supports were viewed as areas for needed growth, and educators in the conversation were quite clear on how to get where we need to be. Here are several ways offered to combat high attrition rates and to help change public perception of the teaching profession–by educators and for educators:

  • Support educators to create community connections and to share school and student success stories.
  • Amplify the voices of preservice teachers early and often.
  • Support mentorship, coaching, and collaboration efforts that value teacher-to-teacher connections in schools and globally.
  • Discuss and quantify the long-term and widespread impact one teacher can have on our world and our future.

So, what could global education look like if we were able to make teaching a more financially attractive career? For this dream big inquiry prompt, teachers were quick to outline the possibilities.

  • “We will see the brightest, most empathetic minds joining forces to provide the highest quality education to all our students regardless of their zip code.” –John Miller, school administrator, Mexico
  • “Global education can drive quicker innovation and leading practice across all aspects of education and learning.” — Martin Prior, educator, Australia
  • “It could help to raise the caliber of teachers we have overall, which would be healthy for the profession [at] large. As the adage goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.” –Dale Chu, educator, Colorado, USA

Upon reflection and review of resources, conversations, and experiences, it is evident that financial support really is just part of a larger issue of which educators are concerned–one of overall public support.  

If we move forward to taking action now as a world, referencing several large-scale research projects, surveys of professionals and other evidence-based practices from a variety of global education systems let us all together seek out ways to listen, to hear, and to acknowledge our teachers. For their fight is not one of protest or in a complaint, but is a fight for a profession that is purposed with serving and promoting positive progress in the world.

Let’s keep the conversation going! Join us as we #trendthepositive on Twitter to celebrate teachers and their work. And, as with any conversation, we want to make sure your perspective is shared and your voice is heard. Please add to the discussion by commenting below or tweeting to #whatisschool.

Authors: Craig Kemp and Jennifer Williams

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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Global EdTech Consultant based in Singapore but working with Schools and EdTech companies all over the world. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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