By Yuki Hayashi
From the print edition, April 2012
Here are four reasons why teachers should get bonuses for coaching gigs.
1. It compensates those who make personal sacrifices to volunteer and may motivate those who can’t
Teachers are parents too, and they may need to rush home to relieve their child-care provider. Others may have aging parents to check in on or a dog that needs walking. When a teacher coaches, he’s not just giving our kids that extra hour or 90 minutes of coaching time but adding to his commute, which is no longer taking place during the 3:30 p.m. traffic lull but at the 5 p.m. rush hour.
A small stipend can help a teacher pay for things like extended care, or a dog-walking service, or additional transportation costs if, say, on coaching day, his long-suffering spouse has to take a cab to the YMCA with their daughter since he’s not home in time to drive them, and swim lessons have always been on Tuesday nights for five years now, so why does he keep coaching on Tuesday nights?!
2. An honorarium counterbalances the sh*t they have to put with from parents
Teachers get hassled by helicopter parents, but unlike professional coaches, they don’t get paid. Here’s what happens: Parents phone teachers—or show up at school right at bell time—to ask them to put their kid on the competitive team, regardless of how they perform during tryouts, because their child really wants to be on the team and is trying so hard, but is smaller than the other kids, and it is heart-breaking that the child just doesn’t have the same advantages as the other kids, so please consider that when choosing the team.
And other parents will call—or, again, show up at bell time, wondering why the teacher can’t sit and chat with them at that moment—to demand to know why their kid didn’t make the cut even though so-and-so did, especially since so-and-so is soooooo uncoordinated and will probably cost the team the season.
And then, at some sports-mad schools, they’ll show up at practice to shout out instructions and undermine the coaches.
Why shouldn’t teachers get paid to put up with this stuff? An honorarium could pay for earplugs at least.
3. It enhances the school’s bottom line (enrolment)
With the pendulum swung so far in the direction of standardized testing and activities aimed at improving academic results, physical activity loses out. While many provinces have set daily physical activity requirements, there’s little evidence that these requirements are being met. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines suggest children get 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each day—and teams and activity clubs help kids hit this number, plus they help kids burn off steam.
The bonus for those schools that boast flourishing teams and clubs is they retain “quality” students: those who are active, involved and excited about participation.
One of my friends is in the middle of pulling her two sons out of their elementary school due to its plummeting student, staff and parent morale. Although the primary issue has been the school’s ongoing disciplinary problem with a group of troubled students, one thing that sold her on their new school is its number of junior sports teams. “They can’t wait to try out for junior soccer. Their current school hasn’t had a team in a couple of years, since teachers stopped being willing to coach,” she says.
4. Finally, it sends a message
What is the gold standard for employee recognition? Whether you’re a valet parking jockey or an investment banker, it’s the cash bonus.
In an ideal world, all teachers would tackle one extracurricular activity per semester, not because they have to but because they want to. But let’s be honest: Not all teachers step up. It’s not fair that those who do get compensated the same as those who don’t.
So, what do we do?
We thank them. Profusely. (And tell them we’re just an email away if they need a parent volunteer.) And, for results that last, we pay them an honorarium. “I don’t think I’d even use the money for myself. I’d probably use it toward a team pizza party,” says one school coach I know. And if they choose to spend it on a massage instead, why not? They deserve it.
Celebrating teachers who promote the values of fitness, fair play and good sportsmanship is just the right thing to do. And who knows, it may also be just what it takes to inspire the teachers who sit on their butts to pick up a basketball, skipping rope, volleyball and whistle, to the benefit of your kids and mine.
Do you think teachers should get extra pay for going the extra mile? Is there another way to recognize their efforts?
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