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Should teachers be paid to attend Teacher Training sessions?

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Man opening walletJean Theuma, a freelance teacher trainer based in Malta, explores the controversial question of whether teachers should be expected to attend school-run training sessions without financial incentive.

How far can we expect teachers to pay for their own professional development? If they are employed with a school, where does the responsibility to pay for CPD lie? With the school or the teacher themselves?

I have recently started running in-house training sessions for a quite large school and I’ve stumbled on a curious situation. I was wondering if anyone else has come across the same thing. The teachers feel that, as they are staying at school after hours to come to teacher training workshops, they should be paid for their time. The school, however, feels that as the teachers are benefiting by becoming better teachers, they should not be paid anything for attending. It is a sticky situation and, unfortunately, one that could have a bad impact on the attendance to the sessions.

Unfortunately, some teachers do not seem to realise how much work goes into organising training. Schools have to organise and pay for trainers to hold the sessions. They probably have to carry out observations in order to find out the best topics to help their teachers. At the end of the course of training, they might produce certificates of attendance, so that if a teacher moves on to another school, they can take evidence of having attended the sessions with them. The whole thing involves administration and record-keeping, along with the preparation of facilities and materials to be used during the workshops. .

It is all quite a lot of work to organise and it would be a shame for the training to trail off to nothing if the school does not get buy-in from the teachers. If the school does not pay for the teachers to attend, the teachers are not obliged to come; all schools can do is “recommend strongly” that they do.  So, what they decide not to go? Financially, schools cannot afford to run poorly attended training sessions. The training department would be hard pushed to justify that to the Director of Studies or whoever is in charge of the purse-strings.

Some teachers tend to think it is the schools which benefit with more satisfied customers and less complaints for the Academic Department to deal with. Also, in Malta, most teachers are paid at an hourly rate which they feel does not really cover their preparation time, let alone compensate them for staying a couple of extra hours per week for training.

Money issues aside, some teachers are not very keen to participate on the programme to begin with. They see the proposal of training as a criticism of their teaching methods. Some say that if they have been doing well so far, they do not see why they should change – The ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ attitude. They are, therefore, not very motivated to come and not paying them for attendance seems to be the final straw to many of them.

I can see their point of view but I also know how much time and energy goes into organising courses of training!

What do you think? How does it work in your school? Does your school pay for training or do your teachers invest time and energy on CPD without any financial rewards?

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9 thoughts on “Should teachers be paid to attend Teacher Training sessions?

  1. But in any other business the company would pay. It’s not as though teachers are (generally) well paid and when you consider that many EFL teachers have to supplement their income with private lessons, those extra hours in school take away from that.

  2. I am a teacher from Ukraine. Teachers are paid ourly here in Unkraine too. And this does not cover the preparation time at all! Language schools and centers can’t afford to organise any workshops for teachers. So it is solely your desire and initiative if you want to seek any professional development! It’s not easy as I can’t afford to pay for expensive courses abroad or even in this counry. So I attend whatever I can: free seminars and workshops which are a part of promotional campaigns of various publishing houses. Internet is a great source. Webinars, articles and discussions on-line are a unique possibility to keep up with the innovative techniques and methods.

  3. I’m going to start with the last point: teachers can ALWAYS benefit from well-run training programmes, regardless of experience. Provided that the training is relevant to the teachers’ experience and needs (perhaps getting ideas from the teachers on what they feel they need more input on may aid motivation) it will be beneficial for their teaching and keep them (us) fresh.

    I think paying teachers by the hour is a bad idea unless the hourly rate is good enough to clearly include preparation time and admin tasks (and holidays?) If the teacher works on a contract which pays a monthly salary and includes training, admin, preparation etc, then the financial incentive does not become an issue.

    I think raising enthusiasm for attending the training will firstly depend on having motivated teachers (already financially comfortable – I know a difficult thing to achieve in Europe without a serious paradigm shift in academies and private schools) who actively want to take an interest in their professional development; and secondly to provide relevant, informative and interesting training sessions that the teachers can see a clear benefit from.

    Also, perhaps reduce training sessions at peak admin times over the course so as not to put too many demands on the teachers outside the classroom.

    I don’t think it is necessary to make the sessions obligatory as motivated teachers will attend motivating sessions, for the (non-financial) benefits that they offer.

    Unfortunately you are correct in saying that teachers sometimes don’t see the preparation behind the training, which is a shame. One way round this may be to organise “peer-training” in which teachers identify one strong aspect of their teaching and they provide a short session for the other teachers on this. I found this quite useful when working as a senior teacher in a small school in Spain.

  4. Hi, I have encountered similar issues on occasion – though much less so. In general, teachers in Greece don’t expect to be paid for in-house training/development offered by their employer, but…

    … this does not mean they are all so keen to follow them.

    I think this is so a Catch-22 situation. Teachers who are keen to develop will follow such teacher development opportunities eagerly, whether offered to them or found on the web

    Teachers who expect to get paid, aren’t really all that willing to change anything for anyone – so even if you do pay them, it’s quite likely they will come and then

    – be surly
    – undermine eager colleagues’ enthusiasm
    – doubt that any or all suggestions offered may work
    – create difficulties for the trainer
    – not really apply any of the ideas anyway

    Resistance to change is a major issue – and the change agents – trainer & organiser(s) – are more likely to lose by forcing such colleagues to participate

    Let them be, or…. let them go…

    Marisa

  5. The CPD of teachers and whether the schools they work for should pay for it and/or whether teachers should be paid to attend such courses is a very interesting, but also a complicated issue.

    Today we live in the world of life-long learning. And good teachers have always been learnig all their lives. Those who refuse to do so, whatever their reasons are, will see their teaching become stale and repetitive. Even if they themselves don’t notice this, their learners undoubtedly will, and this will affect customer satisfaction.

    We could argue that ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction is in the interest of schools, and therefore they should pay for their teachers’ CPD. On the other hand, there are viable arguments behind teachers profiting from CPD, as “each teacher is a brand for themself”, as a good friend of mine often says. Teachers can use the knowledge acquired through courses and workshops even after they quit the school that paid for their professional development.

    Therefore I think the fairest would be if teachers’ dedication to CPD and through it the quality of their teaching would affect their salaries. This could motivate those teachers who see compulsory teacher development as time they cannot spend on earning a living. The scheme I would suggest would specify the number of CPD hours a teacher should attend to maintain their salary level. Those who are keen on professional development and exceed the specified number should be rewarded by raises.

    When it comes to the financial side of things, sharing the burden of CPD seems just fair, as both sides will benefit from it.

  6. In house training is generally not helpful and is certainly not inspiring. It is generally offered by people who have no classroom experience and there is no practical value in the content of the training. Teachers would jump at the chance to attend high quality conferences and workshops.

  7. What I dont understand is that in 1989 Tefl teachers salaries have gone up by about one Euro to date? Thats the biggest farce.

  8. The biggest farce about this job and im sure ALL techers would agree is that since 1989 when I strated teaching to 2016 the saries have not only not gone up but have gone down !

  9. This is similar to what we go through in Africa. I would recommend that before a training is recommended, there should be ground or reason for it. This may come out of an annual evaluation or appraisal of individual teachers that points out the broken pieces that need to be fixed.
    Secondly it will be relevant to take on a training if their are upgrades of systems being used to teach/delivery or a curriculum face lift.
    Payment should be an equivalent of costs incurred that would have otherwise not been like the transport refund and food allowance and this cant be covered to 100%. There should be a win-win scenario or meet half way!
    Otherwise the old and new psychological contract are different. in the past people begged you to open your shop but now if you don”t open someone else will open. Likewise if you do not have an upgrade in your qualifications then your position will be opened up for those who have taken the time to train themselves.

    Flavia Nampala

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