Sharon Nelson, Contributor
In order for teachers or schools to perform to the best of their ability, there must be some form of transformational change. Performance-based pay cannot remedy the problems that teachers, students and schools are facing. While I have no objection to performance-based pay, I recognise that after its implementation, other issues will arise which may cause teachers to migrate to other countries.
The resulting shortage of teachers will have a negative impact on the educational system.
There are good, better and best ways of handling our educational system. If the good ways fail, it only means that we need to look at the better ways. If the better ways fail, we will need to look at the best ways. There is no need for the teachers to pack up and go. They are all important in our society, so let us seek the best ways to solve the problems facing the educational system.
The problems cannot be solved until we discover what is causing them. When this is known, then we can put forward the best solutions for the problem.
In my opinion, there should be ongoing professional development and training for principals and teachers. In addition, there should be training for students and parents. These training sessions would give everyone an understanding of how important education is in the lives of individuals, as well as the broader society.
Before we move to implement the performance-based pay system, let us weigh the pros and cons:
1 Teachers should want to teach and serve because they love to do so, not merely because of money.
2 The performance-based pay system would reward only a minority of the teacher population and would do little to improve the quality of the majority of teachers.
3 The performance-based pay system will put teachers under undue pressure, which may cause them to underperform.
4 The cost of implementing the system must also be considered.
5 The performance-based pay system encourages competition, rather than collaboration, among teachers.
6 There is no clear definition of what constitutes a 'good teacher'.
In my opinion, one of the solutions to the problem is to look at transformational leadership. This leadership style will help to bring about a tremendous change in our schools. If we have workshops and seminars to enlighten and empower the principals, teachers, students and parents, this will bring a change to society.
The eight perspectives of transformational leadership will equip the stakeholders of the educational system. One of the perspectives of transformational leadership is called incarnational leadership. This is a vital element in the leadership arena, where the leader pursues shared experiences, shared plights, shared hopes and shared knowledge of tasks.
If our leaders are going to be effective, they must be able to reach their followers or become part of their followers' world. This leadership principle is based on the Christian teaching that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). This is a perfect example of how leaders need to share their experiences, plights, hopes and joys of those they lead.
Instead of asking teachers to pack up and go, let us see how we can assist these teachers to perform at a higher level.
Incarnational leadership demands that we enter in, and become immersed in, the culture in which we serve. As leaders, we need to go into the teachers' world - and the students' world - to find out what exactly is contributing to the low performance of our children in schools. Then, and only then, can we implement a strategic plan to counter the negative cycle in our education system.
Dr Sharon Nelson is an educator and bursar at Shortwood Teachers' College. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.