Incentivizing Teachers with Mission, Not Money

Teaching is as much a public service as it is a serious profession. Seldom do individuals decide to pursue a career as educators for the money. Frankly speaking, the pay package of the average American teacher isn’t exactly lucrative; but that’s a different topic for another time. For now, there’s something greater and more meaningful than hard cash, something that ignites the public service ethic of a born teacher, which can be leveraged to optimize the recruitment process, hire the best teaching talent, and give student achievement a boost. This is mission – which defines purpose, goads teachers to go the extra mile for students, and ultimately delivers a sense of personal fulfillment that money cannot provide.

Money can’t buy you respect, love and admiration

Good teachers seldom care about the numbers on their paycheck. Their approach is completely student-centric, revolving around student achievement and well-being. They place more value on thank-you cards from students and appreciation notes from teachers. They do what needs to be done to help students succeed, customize their teaching plans, tweak work hours and extract maximum advantage from tools and resources that enable student success. They would rather focus on improving delivery of service than crib about not making enough. You will find many noble teachers in America’s largely materialistic workforce. Schools can incentivize them with mission, not money.

Seeking inspiration from KIPP

Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) – a well-known charter school network – has put the idea of ‘incentivizing with mission’ to action in its teacher recruitment appeals. If you browse through the websites of KIPP schools, you will find that the copy does not emphasize the traditional incentives to attract prospects, i.e. salary and benefits. Student achievement is at the heart of their appeal; the focus is on delivering the message of a mission – to help students succeed. Some websites are also candid in telling prospects that the job is challenging and expectations are big.

The positive outcomes of KIPP’s approach to teacher recruitment can be seen in the larger learning gains registered by KIPP school students and the better-performing behavior systems of KIPP schools. The charter school network has been smart to target its recruitment appeals to meritorious, dedicated teachers, by incentivizing them with mission. Educators who truly care about helping students and contributing to society in a real and meaningful way, are not likely to pass up KIPP’s offer.

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From General Academic Research

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