Creating and Honoring Great Teachers

Every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation, if you want to make a difference in the life of a child, become a teacher. Your country needs you.

Kudos to Pres. Obama for including that statement in his State of the Union address Last Tuesday night. America’s teaching force is the cornerstone of our society. As Pres. Obama said, teachers are known as national builders in South Korea. He exhorted Americans to treat our teachers with the same level of respect.

When I asked in an earlier column for us to come together as a community and develop a multi-media campaign for raising the level of respect of our teachers it was criticized as wasteful. I still think it is worth our effort. Great teachers and teaching exist all over this valley but too few of our high school and college students aspire to become teachers today. We can and must change this trend!

A comment last week asked what makes a great teacher. Well, until a decade ago we did not have much of a clue. We more or less knew one to see one, but the qualities and characteristics of a great teacher were not in the educational literature to a substantive degree. We were never certain whether or not the nice teacher that children and parents liked actually had good achievement results for all students, irrespective of their socioeconomic status or racial/ethnic background.

Fortunately, No Child Left Behind and the use of quantifiable assessment data have given us irrefutable results of what great and effective teachers do. Superstar teachers, like Super Bowl quarterbacks, place high expectations on themselves and their teammates. They set high goals. They are constantly reflective and self-evaluative. Their lesson plans are worked and reworked, sometimes with solicitation of collegial feedback.

The great teachers know concrete ways to effectively involve their students’ parents, not adhering to only school hours to see or call parents. They go the extra mile to call them or visit them at home after work, to send them notes about positive progress, to invite them to help in the classroom or be a quest speaker. Their expectations for parent involvement are high; to great teachers 80 percent involvement is not good enough.

Great teachers are purposeful and intentional. They stay focused on their mission of increasing student achievement. These teachers always check for student understanding and put in exhaustive time to make certain every student gets it.

Superstar teachers know and care for their students as people. These teachers establish routines for lessons and daily patterns that rarely vary. In their classrooms students are at the edge of their seats always actively engaged and never doodling aimlessly. To support engagement great teachers ensure equity in classrooms. They even use techniques—such as using popsicle sticks with each student’s name to make certain they do not call on their favorites all the time.

Great teachers hold themselves as they key person responsible for student achievement and they never succumb to excuses like poverty, budget shortfalls, and school/district politics.

Great teachers, perhaps 10-20 percent of all teachers, deserve a compensation structure where they are rewarded monetarily for their highly effective and exhaustive work. We must remember and never forget that teachers are the brain surgeons for our children. The great ones in today’s classrooms in Silicon Valley should be compensated on a performance-pay basis.

Many teachers tell me they did not get into the profession to make money. But we all know that in this expensive valley money is helpful. In California, all these issues become contractual collective bargaining issues. (Note: No charter schools in this valley have collective bargaining agreements at this time.) At the collective bargaining table we can come up with a process with which teachers and management agree.

If we increase 10-20 percent of teachers’ compensation to $120,000-$150,000 per year we will concomitantly increase the numbers of high school students and college students who will consider the teaching profession. The tragedy for me today is the highest compensated teachers are the ones who are the most senior due to the traditional step and column pay structure all Santa Clara County districts employ today.

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion.


  1. Joseph,
    To assist in getting more students into college to become great teachers, please help us get the word out on our Scholarship Fund:

    Every year, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Association of Santa Clara Valley gives out thousands of dollars in scholarships to low income minority students to attend college.  While grades are important, our main focus is civic and community involvement.  Below is a link to our scholarship page on our website. Currently, it lists winners from prior years.  It also has a link where applicants can download a copy of the application to fill out and send back, and an e-mail address link where they can ask our scholarship chair any questions they might have about the application or the scholarship program.
    (To download the form, you will need an online version of Adobe Acrobat)

    We have a total of $6,100.00 in scholarship money. It will be distributed as follows, $3,000.00 in scholarships for African American students, $1,000.00 for any student going into Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice, a $100.00 scholarship to a student with a disability, as well as, $2,000.00 to be split up and distributed between students who apply and are chosen. (Students are required to have a Social Security Number, and be a US citizen.)

    We would really appreciate your assistance in getting this into the hands of deserving students.  If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail us at [email protected], or call us at 408-861-5323. 

    Thank you!

    • Kathleen,

      We have a Regular Board meeting at 5:30 Wednesday, February 2 and a Special Meeting on February 9 at 5:00.  You can notify all Board members and community about the MLK scholarships on the Public Comment section or Hearing of Persons Desiring to Address the Board.  I will do so for you if you cannot attend. Soon we will be streaming audio and video of our meetings.

      Also, are you still interested in becoming a member of my advisory committee on eliminating school bullying from our public schools?

      Thank you.

      • Joseph,
        Can you give me the address of where your meeting will be held? I can do the Feb. 9th meeting.

        Yes, I’d love to be considered for a member of your Advisory Board. I will give you my contact info at the meeting on the 9th.

        Thank you so much for your assistance in getting the word out on our scholarships!

  2. > It will be distributed as follows, $3,000.00 in scholarships for African American students, . . .

    Please explain why a restrictive racial requirement relates to the goal of “Creating and Honoring Great Teachers”.

    – – – – – –

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    – – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Teachable Moment,

      ALL scholarships/grants/financial aide programs have requirements to be met for those whom apply to ensure that ALL groups’ needs are met. If special grants/scholarships didn’t exist then a lot of people wouldn’t donate, nor would certain individuals receive assistance. 

      The bottom line is that donors of scholarships, and organizations can put any restriction they want on a scholarship; after all, it is their PRIVATE donation. (Your tax money isn’t being used here.)

      Many donors restrict their grants/donations because that group, profession, or race is important to them personally. I know for a fact that persons with disabilities need financial assistance with special needs items. I personally donated the $100.00 for persons with disabilities to the Association because I have physical disabilities myself, and well, it is MY money to designate as I see fit.

      • So, does a restrictive racial requirement relate to the goal of “Creating and Honoring Great Teachers”, or doesn’t it?

        You appear to have answered a question that wasn’t asked, which is “Do donors of scholarships put restrictions on their donations?”

        • Teachable Moment,

          You seem to be reading more into my post than I meant, or you are purposely taking it out of context to create a conflict.

          I simply asked Joseph, “To assist in getting more students into college to become great teachers, please help us get the word out on our Scholarship Fund,” and then I posted the scholarship information.

          I don’t see anything relating to race in this statement, nor did I say anything about a restrictive racial requirement relating to the goal of “Creating and Honoring Great Teachers.

          I must say, you are a shining example of “No good deed goes unpunished!”  wink

        • > I simply asked Joseph, “To assist in getting more students into college to become great teachers, please help us get the word out on our Scholarship Fund,” and then I posted the scholarship information.

          It’s a race specific scholarship.

          Do you think offering a race specific scholarship is consistent with Dr. King’s principle of judging people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin?

          Do you ever intend to STOP promoting race specific scholarships?

          If so, when?

        • Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes: 

          “It is precisely because education is the road to equality and citizenship, that it has been made more elusive for Negroes than many other rights. The walling off of Negroes from equal education is part of the historical design to submerge him in second class status. Therefore, as Negroes have struggled to be free they have had to fight for the opportunity for a decent education.”

        • Teachable Moment,
          I do not agree with your comment that, “Sounds like Dr. King is disputing Dr. King.” I think you took a quote that you thought made your argument valid, and chose to over look the ENTIRE history of Dr. King and his fight for the rights of African Americans.

          “When do you suppose Dr. King would STOP promoting race specific scholarships?”

          Since I’m not a mind reader, and since I am not his spokesperson, I can’t speak for Dr. King. You might try to contact one of his children and ask them.

        • > I do not agree with your comment that, “Sounds like Dr. King is disputing Dr. King.”

          It’s quite clear that Dr. King said we must judge people by the content of their character whether you want to accept it or not.

          If you don’t believe that he was a lying hypocrite, than you have to accept that race restricted scholarships are NOT judging people by the content of their character BUT by the color of their skin.

          The era of race based scholarships is over.  If you insist on advocating and promoting them, you are defying the principles of Dr. King.

          Race based scholarships are not the solution.  They are the problem.

        • If there is to be any disagreement, it is not my PERCEPTION that you advocate race based scholarships.

          That’s not perception, that’s reality.  You REALLY DO advocate and promote race based scholarships.

          The disagreement is ONLY on the morality of your advocacy.

          You seem to think it’s moral. I think it’s immoral.

        • Teachable Moment,
          “That’s not perception, that’s reality.”

          Okay, we can agree to disagree on your reality, your view of morality, and on your perception of MY morality, and advocacy.

          By all means, please feel free to make an unrestricted donation to our scholarship fund. We’ll be happy to add it to the other $3,000.00 in unrestricted monies we are awarding to deserving students.

          BTW-Be sure you send your complain to every single college and University in the US. They all have scholarships and grants with restrictions. As I said before, it is the donor’s money and they can restrict it as they please, and in my eyes, and in the eyes of the students, their generosity is very much appreciated.

  3. Dear Joseph,

        As I’ve said before I believe it’s more of a cultural issue.  Increasing salaries will attract good teachers sure, but it will also attract a disproportional amount of people just looking to cash in.
        Furthermore Obama using Korea as a culutural example of how to pay homage to teachers is fair enough but as the barometer for how we should model our public education…  Laughable.  As a matter of fact my friend who taught English in Korea is coming up to our offices as I write this.  In Korea you can buy grades with bribes and students can pay to get into classes they are not able meet the prerequisites for, because it’s all about status.
        AND, just like in Thailand where I am now…  There is a NO FAIL POLICY. 

        Did you read that Joseph?  A NO FAIL POLICY.  Everyone passes!  America’s strength is our willingness to fail our students and make them do it again.  It is our willingness to not compromise on issues such as these that are the cornerstones of our western culture that has enabled us to be the dominant global presence for over 2000 years regardless of which nation is leading the charge.  ASIA is not the administrative model for education to follow.  Culturally, yes, Administratively, no.

    We laud ourselves about how superior they are in math and sciences but then why do their elite send their children to study math and sciences in our universities?  Because even they know they are hacks.

    Culturally this is what we need to do.  If you own a restaurant, and a teacher comes in to eat…  Discount, on the house whatever they are teaching our children.  In the words of my generation “hook them up”

    If your a mechanic and the teacher comes to you for vehicle repairs.  Hook em up charge them for parts only, or parts + 10%.

    If your a landlord and a teacher needs a place to live.  Waive the deposit, hook them up.

    That is what Asians do in Asia and that is all the incentive they need.  There are some fantastic teachers here… don’t get me wrong.  But when the community at large is paying tribute directly, no some invisible tax collector, the sense of duty to the community is heightened.  If they reformed their no fail policy we’d be in serious trouble but as for right now, I don’t take them seriously and neither should anyone in the U.S.

    I wrote in another article about ways to be more accessible to parents by offering morning afternoon and evening schedules for K-12 but I won’t get into that here for the sake of continued discussion.

    • Mr. Cortese,

      I totally agree about some school start times being later and mentioned it at last night’s SCCOE board meeting to loud applause.

      • That’s a fully funded music program to my ears Mr. DiSalvo. Having worked late evening hours a substantial portion of my proffesional career I realized the difficulties my co-workers faced and I too would face, that is why now as a parent I have taken a greater interest in our education system. Having seen the pro’s and cons of a third world system, I am zealously in support of shoring up and fortifying the bits and pieces of our system that works, and retrofitting it with upgrades and tweaks to prevent the alternative… (this is where you google “red shirt protests Thailand”)

        I think this is a huge albeit modest looking step in the right direction.  If put into effect I’d predict better testing results and even a decline in youth crime and perhaps even more. Thank you for taking the time to respond, I hope I’ve helped.

  4. Pres. Obama’s speech definitely made me proud in my decision to become a teacher.  Although I know I have A LOT to learn in becoming a successful and effective teacher, I look forward to the challenge.  I especially liked Joseph Disalvo’s comment that “superstar teachers know and care for their students as people.”  Personally, I feel teaching goes beyond just knowing your students.  Truly caring about your students and SHOWING that you care about them can go a long way in creating a positive learning environment for students.  It can give them the encouragement and strength to succeed even if they sometimes feel like they can’t.  I also think it creates a level of respect in the classroom.  If students receive respect, then they will give respect.  Students who feel as if they are being respected for who they are (inside and outside of the classroom) will more likely give their teachers that same respect.  This creates a harmonious and positive classroom environment that promotes learning.  Finally, knowing and caring for your students can give teachers valuable insight into how they can best teach/help their students.  It can aid in choosing instructional approaches, creating lesson plans, choosing how to approach students and parents, etc. 

    P.S. I wouldn’t argue with a “10-20 percent [increase in] teachers’ compensation to $120,000-$150,000 per year.”  That would be awesome!

  5. I agree that the 10-20 percent increase would generate more HS students to become teachers, but at the same time, as a teacher, you have to have the desire to love children and work long hours to not give up on every student in the classroom. It takes a lot of dedication and the will to make the classroom engaging and the students perform at their highest level. It takes special people to become teachers. In the US, the perception of teachers is not the best, that should changed because teachers work hard and are faced with adversity each day from different angles. Teachers should be compensated more,show more respect for their performances and student success in the classroom.

  6. I think the DeSalvo makes a great point when he says “Great teachers hold themselves as they key person responsible for student achievement and they never succumb to excuses like poverty, budget shortfalls, and school/district politics.” While I do believe it takes a village to educate each child, the teacher is the one with the most academic influence on students. It is a shame to see teachers give up on the mission that being a teacher is. Unfortunately these teachers give up because of those reason; poverty, budget shortfalls and mostly because of school/district politics. I really don’t think that any amount of money paid to these teachers would buoy them against those morale deflating factors that are an unfortunate reality in education.

  7. As a future teacher I whole heartedly agree wiht your ideas Joseph. I would love to see teachers treated with the respect that they so rightly deserve. I did not enter this profession for financial reasons but because my husband and I plan to start a family soon, and would love to be able to remain in California, I would not disagree with a 10-20% increase in compensation. I think teachers who are passionate and committed to their students academic success and development should be rewarded.

    The flip side of this is that teachers who are simply going through the motions and who are not passionate about education need to be evaluated and counseled to find another more suitable profession. It is this type of teacher that is muddying the image of hardworking teachers across the United States. There is no doubt that the state of education in this country is in crisis and is need of change. These changes should be made based on best developmental and educational practices that have been shown through research and observation to be successful.

  8. > I am heartened that Obama chose to talk about teaching in his address, that he has a long-term understanding of how our country will truly be successful which always comes back to the sound foundation of a good education.

    I am DISheartened by the fact that there will be NO improvement in education until people develop a much greater sense of cynicism about how unionized public education really works.

    Liberal politicians have enthused for generations about how wonderful education is and how much more of it we need.  The have bombarded us with endless happy talk about what a wonderful world we will have if we just spent more money . . . more money . . . more money . . . morey money . . . on education.

    The reality is that every new dollar that taxpayers have hopefully and painfully added to the education budgets has gone straight to the pockets of the incompetents who were already UNDERPERFORMING and failing children and parents.

    The education establishment is like a cancer:  it absorbs ever more money, and ever more money . . . AND NOTHING CHANGES!!

    We get the same lousy, crappy results year after year after year AND we get the some insolent whining and complaining from the teachers unions about how underpaid and under appreciated teachers are.


    Teachers are NOT Gods!  They are not saints.  They are willing and complicit participants in the unionist conspiracy that sucks up education money and fails to deliver.

  9. Some good comments here. But the one about showing what we value what we fund hits the mark. In this country we value old people and war because that is what gets the vast majority of federal dollars—the Pentagon, Social Security and Medicare. The other big department in government is Health and Human Services.

    I’m a liberal who has only recently come to the defense of charter schools. I love teachers and all the teachers I’ve had in my life but we need to be able to fire some older teachers and keep some of the good young ones. Seniority alone is enough to turn me against collective bargaining for teachers. It was crucial at one time in our history but we need a complete new 21st century education approach.

  10. > I’m a liberal who has only recently come to the defense of charter schools.

    I believe the appropriate term is “liberal in remission”.

    It’s a hopeful sign, but I would say that you’re not out of the woods yet.

  11. Even though it is unfortunate how under appreciated and poorly compensated teachers are, adults making the decision to pursue a teaching career are clearly doing so because they love it and truly want to make a difference within the lives of children.  I agree that the pay scale does not make any sense due to the highest wages being given to the oldest, but a $150,000 salary might encourage people who don’t have the much needed passion and desire to educate.  There is no doubt that things need to change so teachers can be the best they can be and feel appreciated for all of their hard work.
    Also, I loved the above characteristics of what makes a extraordinary teacher.  I completely feel that all is true and that it is important to get families involved in their child’s education, by any means necessary. 
    I look forward to seeing a positive change in the future!

  12. It is almost impossible for me to wrap my head around teachers making six figure salaries. I wish! I believe a 15-20% increase for lowest to mid end would even be more realistic. It is a core belief for me that we show what at the end of the day, what we value and what we say we value show up in action- which is extremely disparate in this country, no less in this county. I watch as we funnel trillions of dollars into other areas, such as defense, when our teachers, physically crumbling schools and our students suffer as a result. In some cultures still, teachers are revered, in ours, we treat teachers with such little respect in terms of monetary reward for the most sacred foundation they are building- our future. 

    I also want to comment on one of the earlier comments, in that while we may have an elite base of mathematicians and scientists in our country, we are not able to continue that proud fact if we have (which we now do have) a shortage of teachers in these fields.

    I am heartened that Obama chose to talk about teaching in his address, that he has a long-term understanding of how our country will truly be successful which always comes back to the sound foundation of a good education.

  13. I enjoyed reading this blog for the second time. You state very good points and provide a good guideline of how teachers should be in order to become great teachers. I believe that every teacher needs to go above and beyond their requirements in order to successfully help their students develop and grow. It is the great teachers that work hard and do it not for the money, but for their students.

    On the topic of salary, some people have taken that small paragraph at the end of your post and made it the sole focus of the blog. I disagree. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the message that I got from that last paragraph is that all your trying to convey is that the teachers that work hard, go above and beyond, should be compensated more, NOT to encourage teachers to do it for the money, but to compensate them for the countless of hours that they put in to make their students’ learning more enriching and effective.

  14. While I am for rewarding teachers who deserve it finically, I just don’t see how that could be done. I feel as a society we do need to increase the level of respect we have for teachers. Anybody remember the game LIFE? How many of us hoped we landed on teacher, and earned the least of all the “professions” with a car full of kids.  While today’s youth might shy away from teaching because of the low pay, compensating great teachers won’t give teachers the respect, from society, they deserve. My question is how can we raise the level of respect for teachers, in addition to financial compensation, so the next generation of LIFE players wants to land on teacher!

  15. I agree that great teachers need to be recognized and honored for their hard work. In order to maintain their positive behaviors, they need to be rewarded.  If great teachers are unrecognized and unappreciated, they may lose their momentum and passion.

  16. A key message I can relate to is,“If you want to make a difference in the life of a child, become a teacher.”  I have worked in the business world for many years and I experienced monetary reward, but little internal satisfaction.  Since I have been working as a substitute teacher for the last 3 years I leave the classroom everyday with a big smile on my face and an internal feeling of satisfaction.  I used to wake up dreading the work day.  However, now I wake up excited. This may sound silly to some, but I will tell you the students I spend the day with know I am excited to be in the classroom and giving 100%. I think to be a great teacher you must love what you do and make it your mission to help everyone of your students reach their full potential.  I have gone into some classrooms where the teacher is just going through the motions and impatient with the students and that makes me very sad.  Teachers should be held accountable for their performance, just like people are in the business world, but there seems to be some complacency in rewarding great teachers and laying off teachers that are just marking time.  Hopefully, these practices will change in the future.

  17. As a teacher for the last few years I can only say that paying teachers more is not a gate way to becoming a teacher . A salary of $120,000-$150,000 only increases salaries for School Superintendents , and this only leads to back lash from a public stand point . Let’s look at what append to the Seattle Washington school District a few years ago , that school district was paying big time on all school employees ( including Janitors ) ; these increases lead to more public scrutiny of education money on how it’s spent . We do deserve Great Teachers who have salaries compatible with the profession they do , YES teachers do need to thanked for their hard work . We also need to make becoming a teacher worthwhile for any applicant , the last few years we have had teacher shortages , and some of the reasons is that no one was hiring ( Districts , and Budgets )for example drive new blood away . As a former student teacher I can tell you that if you don’t make your tenure during observations it could cave any possible future for being a teacher . Furthermore becoming a teacher begins in the classroom with the students , yes inspire them to learn and then that seed is planted , then watch it blossom !

      • May I just ask you what general industry you work in? You seem to have quite a bit of input on the field of education, but was curious if you have any sort of experience actually working in the field (versus being a parent of a K-12 student)?

        • There are two things , first the real education begins at home , there is one other teacher that a parent is . The Second Teacher is the person your k-12 student goes to see every day . The second Teacher almost becomes the second parent to the child (your child ) I read you .

  18. I completely agree that a great teacher goes above and beyond what is required to ensure that every child succeeds. I also agree that great teachers should be rewarded in some way to recognize that teaching is not an easy job and that they are making a difference everyday.

  19. I agree with your statement that “Great teachers hold themselves as the key person responsible for student achievement and they never succumb to excuses like poverty, budget shortfalls, and school/district politics.” I believe that excuses are nothing but a waste of time. I do not know the answer for creating great teachers, but I do believe that in order to be a great teacher one needs to have a passion for teaching. They need to be willing to encourage children to dream big and provide the building blocks for them to achieve their dreams.

  20. I completely agree with the described characteristics of great teachers. Great teachers are those who dedicate themselves to their students, and who have the determination and perseverance to not let societal struggles overshadow their passion of teaching. It is very sad and unfortunate that teachers are not given the respect they so rightly deserve. It is also mind-boggling that teachers are not held in high esteem given that they are a powerful force in shaping the future. However, I believe that great teachers continue working hard to help their students and the overall community regardless of recognition.

    • > It is very sad and unfortunate that teachers are not given the respect they so rightly deserve. It is also mind-boggling that teachers are not held in high esteem given that they are a powerful force in shaping the future.

      It seems to me that the ONLY people who are saying that teachers aren’t respected are teacher’s unions.

      Naturally, the teacher’s unions claim that BECAUSE teachers are not respected, they NEED a union.

      And if teachers ever gained the respect that the unions say teachers lack, the teachers wouldn’t need a union anymore.

  21. I agree that a great teacher is a combination of all the qualities that were mentioned above.  I believe great teachers are willing to go the extra mile to ensure student achievement and create a safe learning environment for their kids. Most importantly, they “know and care for their students as people” – These are the teachers that linger in our memory and leave a lasting impression in our lives.

    I agree that great teachers must be financially compensated for their efforts. As has been said before, I know these teachers are not in the profession to make money. But, by providing monetary compensation we are acknowledging their hard work and efforts. Also, it is sad to learn that teachers do not receive the level of respect that they should. These are the people who have made a difference in our lives. Teaching is not an easy job and I believe these teachers deserve to be respected. This reminds me of something   I read that mentioned that “Those who can – do. They Teach.” I think the community needs to honor and respect these teachers who are in this profession because of their passion to teach.

  22. I highly agree with the qualities of a great teacher outlined in this article. A great teacher is someone that goes above and beyond what their job description entails.  Teachers do not go above and beyond because of salary; they do so because they genuinely care about their students, the future of this country. Compensating those teachers that truly go above and beyond with an increased salary would be the morally correct thing to do, but I wouldn’t want it to affect the number of students that become teachers.  Great teachers are great because their actions come from their heart and passion.  Even if teachers try to go above and beyond in order to receive an increased salary, it’s different when the effort is money-driven.  Great teachers will be great, regardless of their salary. If teachers’ salaries were to be increased, there needs to be a very serious way of determining that.

  23. I get more than a little overwhelmed when I read an article like this about what a great teacher is, because as a credential student, I know that I have so much to learn!  Being a great teacher for me is more the process of BECOMING a great teacher; it is growing into a great teacher.  I liked the part that mentions the self-evaluation a great teacher has, and that is what I know I need to concentrate on right now.  Rather than splitting my energy trying to do all the things that are mentioned here, I need to focus on one or two things in order to be effective, as well as to save my sanity.  So, for now, I will focus on self-evaluation.

  24. I think that many people don’t choose teaching as their profession because they don’t see it as a challenging or rewarding career. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say that if they don’t pass the bar exam or if they don’t get into medical school, teaching will be their “fallback career” because they think it’s an easy job. Those who hold that belief are underestimating the nature of the teaching profession. A truly great teacher spends more time and effort going beyond their job description than any other career. They get fulfillment from seeing their students succeed, not from the amount of their paycheck. Those individuals who choose to dedicate their lives to teaching understand what it’s all about and strive to be that great teacher for their students.

  25. I enjoyed reading this blog and particulary liked the idea of paying teachers that go above and beyond a bigger chunk of money. I also liked the comment about a good teacher not blaming poverty, budget, and shortfalls.

  26. We all have had bad and good teachers. The good teachers we remembered fondly and the bad teachers we tried to forget. Having both experiences have left a mark on our impression of teachers. I think that being a teacher is one of the most difficult job.  Imagine that whatever you do or say can effect an individual for the rest of his/her life. Not a lot jobs out there have this kind of responsibility, therefore respecting the teaching profession is just one way to repay teachers who have the courage to take on the job.

  27. I think that this blog was very inspiring and makes me reflect on what kind of teacher I am.  I strive to be the “superstar teacher” that is constantly reflective and self-evaluative.  I think that in order to be a great teacher, one must truly have passion for teaching and constantly portray this onto their students.

  28. I agree with DiSalvo when he states, “Superstar teachers, like Super Bowl quarterbacks, place high expectations on themselves and their teammates. They set high goals. They are constantly reflective and self-evaluative. Their lesson plans are worked and reworked, sometimes with solicitation of collegial feedback”.

    I think that if a teacher sets high goals and expectations for his or herself, they will be a much better teacher. Setting high goals and expectations will motivate me to do the best I can and be the best teacher I can be. Not only should teachers have high expectations for themselves, but for their students and parents as well. Having high expectations of the parents will hopefully encourage them to become more involved in the classroom and their child’s education, which will ultimately affect the students academic success. Also, having high expectations of the students will hopefully motivate them to work harder and be better students, leading to higher academic success as well.

  29. The two points that really stood out to me in what you talked about is that teachers need to be reflective and self-evaluative and teachers need to hold themselves as the key person responsible for their students’ education.

    The first point is truly essential in having a great teacher. As teachers, we must be willing to admit our mistakes and learn from them. We must be willing to reflect and evaluate the way that we teach and see how we can be better and more excellent. We must do all that we can do to help our children to succeed. If something isn’t working for our students, we must be willing to change it and adapt it to best serve our students. Even if it is something we’ve done for years and we are more comfortable doing.

    The second point is also crucial to being a great teacher. Many times we make excuses for ourselves. While it is true that there are many obstacles and I do believe in the mentality that “it takes a village to raise a child”, at the end of the day, we, as teachers, are responsible for what we do. We must be able to say that at the end of the year, we have done all that we can, on our part, for our students.

  30. Undoubtedly, it is justifiable to ask for a raise in teachers’ salary, but I feel we’ve got to see who would be involved in the decision, and what would be further entailed in teachers’ responsibilities once the decision is made. The whole society would be involved in this radical change, including policy makers, politicians, taxpayers including parents, who would see if they are willing to pay teachers $120,000-$150,000 a year. Furthermore, I fear that when teachers’ salary is raised to such level, a lot more assignments and responsibilities will come their way (when they already have a lot of pressures in the job). All in all, despite the good intentions of Dr. DiSalvo and all the reasons we can think of in the world for such a change to take place, I doubt its feasibility. However, as a teacher I will always be willing to take part in any campaigns or programs that may help bring about change to teachers’ compensation.

  31. Student teaching this semester has allowed me to reflect on what I think it means to be a great teacher, and to admire those who show the traits of a great teacher.
    DiSalvo says that “Great teachers hold themselves as the key person responsible for student achievement and they never succumb to excuses like poverty, budget, shortfalls, and school/district politics.”  It is easy for someone to say, “Oh well, my students don’t have the resources or support at home to succeed.”  Although this may be difficult to do, it takes someone who has passion for their students to go above and beyond to help their students succeed regardless of the circumstances. 
    Parent involvement is also extremely vital in a child’s education.  I believe that the support of parents at home is vital to students’ success.  I have a child in the class that I’m student teaching in and the parent support is absent.  The effect has trickled down to the student and he doesn’t think it is important to turn in homework or his coursework in on time.
    The teacher I remember most is my second grade teacher.  I not only remember the material I learned that year, but the educational experiences, like raising salmon eggs and then releasing them into a stream that went along with the material.  In addition, she took time to know who I was as an individual.
    I think that teachers definitely deserve more respect then they are given.  In high school everyone wanted to become doctors or lawyers because it was “prestigious” and made a lot of money.  I believe that if teachers not only were paid more but also received more respect within the community, teaching would be a more attractive profession to people.

  32. I agree great teachers are able to motivate their students in ways that make learning fun and exciting.  These teachers also show interest in their students by getting to know what students enjoy doing away from the classroom.  These are the teachers who give their own time to provide students with extra help to make sure all of their students succeed.  Great teachers also take time to acknowledge parents and invite them to be involved in the classroom.  These kinds of teachers make better students and higher academic achievement.

  33. One of the main points I got out of this is that if we raise the salary of teachers to $100,000+ then we will be getting people who are only in it for the money and not in it for the love of teaching. I love how one of the myths were that teachers are overpaid and underworked when it is actually teachers are underpaid and overworked. I believe that the salary of teachers should increase slightly depending on the district they are working in and the communities within those districts. For example: if a teacher is getting paid 45,000 dollars and the cost of living in that district is well above their pay grade then they will not be able to live within their district and have to commute or not even work in that district depending on how far they live. I just think it is a shame that some teachers are underpaid for the job they are doing.

  34. “Great teachers hold themselves as they KEY person responsible for student achievement…” 

    That about sums it up.  Being there, and being aware of your students and of what you are doing every single day in class is essential.  Being this key person entails being responsible for each and every action taken and not taken in a classroom.  More so are the reasons behind each which we should all be aware of in order to constantly be self-evaluating our methods.  We adapt, we change, we do what works, and we succeed.  Our children succeed.  We may very well be the keys to our students’ learning.  However it is more important to note that they are the keys to their own and our future.

  35. Thoughtful, caring teachers are irreplaceable.
    Today, most pople who become teachers do not do so for the money, but for their love of children.  Making a difference in the life of a child and helping a child feel good about school while encouraging high self esteem are some reasons why teachers choose this career. All of us can remember a teacher that made a difference in our lives.
    Increasing pay will help to recruit more educated people that may turn away from teaching due to financial constraints.  Higher pay would help increase the amount of competent teachers in the classroom and maybe even give the profession a more respectable reputation.
    Children spend so much time in the classroom, that the best people should be there modeling for them, giving them indivdualized attention; molding the academic crriculum around the needs of the students. Teachers are required to be flexible and manage an indefinite amount of tasks in a day. Teaches should be rewards for this.  Pres.Obama’s speech has helped draw attention to a career that is respectable.  His acknowledgement reminded the American people of the importance of a great teacher.

  36. I really enjoyed this blog and I agree with Joseph DiSalvo that teachers need to be more respected. I don’t understand why they are not respected. Don’t we value education and don’t we also value our children? Then why not the ones who are educating our children? I hope that one day this attitude towards teachers will change.

    I really like the points that DiSalvo made about the qualities one should have in order to be a great teacher. Great teachers go above and beyond and they truly care for each of their students. I really like the point that teachers hold themselves as the key person responsible and that they don’t make excuses because it is always easier to point the blame somewhere.

  37. Great teachers are like greats in any other profession, they place the onus on themselves to create the best learners they can.  Great teachers realize the importance of their work.  They know that more than teaching children how to take tests, they need to teach them how to learn and live their lives as competent, productive adults.  Just like greats in other fields they do not work nine to five jobs.  Unlike greats in other fields they are not compensated for going the extra mile.  They do not receive overtime, stock options, or bonuses for being so dedicated.  I agree with Joseph that an incentive such as higher pay would attract the best and the brightest.  Instead of hearing that since there is no money in teaching I’m going into… we could instead hear people speaking of the fierce competitiveness of becoming a teacher.  In a society where money speaks volumes about a person’s social worth don’t we owe it to society to put our money where our mouth is and show children and adults alike that we actually value education?  The tricky part would be in deciding on how to compensate teachers.  I think looking at test scores would be an erroneous indicator.  It’s an interesting dilemma.; one that requires more thought and time than I can come up with in these short sentences.

  38. While I agree there are not enough great teachers in this country, I worry about simply giving more money to those who make an extra effort. I believe that teachers should make more money to begin with, but that the process to become a teacher should be more challenging.  My boyfriend complains that too many people get into the teaching profession as a back-up plan, but no one becomes a doctor as a back-up plan because medical school is so difficult and expensive. As a result, doctors get paid more once they enter the field.  If the process to become a teacher were as challenging, the number of inept teachers would drop dramatically, but their pay should raise dramatically.

  39. Teaching isn’t an easy job. Even if you love it, it’s not easy. The amount of preparation is takes to become one is difficult, but once you are on the job, you’re challenged constantly. There’s a lot of pressure to be “perfect” when you’re a teacher. All they can do is their best. I also agree that the salary for teachers isn’t where it should be at, but will raising it attract people to the career for the wrong reasons? I think so. Look at other careers, for example, nursing. There are people out there who were made to be nurses, or any position in the medical field at that. Recently, nursing programs all over the country have become increasingly impacted because the starting salary is already high, and of course increases. I’ve met some very compassionate people in the medical field, and I’ve met others who have a heart colder than the north pole. I have to wonder why they’re doing what they’re doing. Some people you can clearly tell are not “people persons”. Are they in it for the money? I’d assume there’s a chance that yes, they are. I would hate to see this happen in teaching. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with making what we deserve as teachers, but I don’t think people who aren’t right for the job should pursue that career path because of the money. Teaching is not about the money.