It is good news that the teacher pay scale is being adjusted. While teachers are typically not in this profession for the money, Meaningful income helps them take better care of their family needs. And, with the cost-of-living spiraling, this should help eliminate some stress.
During the late nineties, the Guam Department of Education made the case to the Civil Service Commission to have leadership earn a 25% differential from Classroom teacher pay. We were ecstatic to be approved for a 17% rate.
Principals and Assistant Principals are deserving of the pay — if they perform. Truthfully, leading a school community can be a thankless job so, providing a Meaningful incentive such as pay is essential.
Our vision at that time was to transition to performance contracts for the administrators. That way, those who perform get deserving bonuses and those who do not perform to standard after focused professional development, exit the system.
Our children are this important. School leadership makes the difference.
In 2006, Project Hatsa, a $6 million Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant, delivered huge outcomes. Teacher performance standards, Administrator performance standards, professional development programs, mentorship programs were developed by stakeholders throughout 300 meetings. With the leadership of Dr. Nieves Flores, these components were adopted by the Board of Education. Public Law 28-183 established the Guam Commission for Educator Certification which reflected the standards developed by Project Hatsa.
The foundation for actual performance driven by student achievement was in place.
As the newly structured pay system is activated, it is hoped that accountability measures drive the pay. Paramount to accountability are performance standards. Teachers and administrators need to know what to know, do, and care about.
Professional development opportunities must be required to improve and excel.
Professional development plans are crucial to continued learning. Throughout the rating period, observations and conversations need to be structured. At the end of the rating period, the question of how well student achievement was met needs to be answered. All evaluation needs to be data-driven with rubrics understood by everyone.
Teaching today has many challenges. Social norms have evolved where family structure is not always easy to connect with – which makes it challenging to partner with families to succeed. Technology has changed the way we interact. Curricular standards are challenged by politically driven notions.
What has not changed is the desire to help all students achieve their potential. Good teachers enjoy their work as they navigate multiple ways to motivate, teach, evaluate, inspire. Good teachers like it when students ask questions as much as they answer questions. Good teachers welcome all students — including those who stink and those who lack discipline. Good teachers know students are there to learn.
Good administrators know the type of support classroom teachers need to succeed in teaching. They will be creative and stubborn in finding ways to help teachers realize their dreams.
I hope that the charter schools are included in this plan. Charter schools are public schools. Nearly 3000 students are enrolled across our 4 charter schools. They, too, are building Guam’s future.
Aline Yamashita, Ph.D., is a teacher, single mother and former senator.