Articles| Kellner’s project: higher-salaried teach...

Kellner’s project: higher-salaried teachers

25. February 2013 - Hospodářské noviny In class 8A of the Kunratice elementary school, the teacher, standing at the blackboard, is starting to explain the issues of eating disorders. However, she is not only talking to the children. She is being watched by Květa Krüger, a teacher coaching expert, sitting in the rear of the classroom.

The Kunratice Elementary School in Praha 4 is one of the four schools in the Czech Republic involved in a project initiated by the Kellner Family Foundation; the purpose of the project is to find out how best to teach children as well as teachers. The same issue is now being addressed by the Ministry of Education. The difference is that while Minister Petr Fiala’s team is only starting the lengthy process of drawing up career rules for teachers, combining education with financial rewards, which is to be implemented in 2015, such a system has been in use for more than two years at the Kunratice Elementary School.

The special consultant for teachers is one of the key pillars of the system. “It’s fantastic to have feedback from such an expert about how you are doing your job. She does not tell us that we are perfect but explains in plain words what to improve in the classes,” says teacher Pavlína Rosická in appreciation of the coach’s presence in the class.

She has just finished a class during which she discussed with the children the principles of a healthy diet and now she is going to analyze how well she did in fitting the new exercises into the class with the consultant. “In the last exercise don’t ask the kids to tell you adjectives that are related to the phrase ‘healthy diet’. You limit their choice by that. It will be better next time to ask what a healthy diet may look like,” advises Květa Krüger, who has many years’ experience in teaching both children and adults.

She visits the Kunratice school at least three times a week and when she is walking through the school hallways teachers often stop her to invite her to their class. “It took some time for them to believe me that I was not spying for the school management. The mistrust disappeared when I offered them that if there was a class they considered to be difficult, I would take it instead of them and they could just look,” remembers Mrs. Krüger.

Her presence in the school also gives sense to all the training courses attended by the teachers during the school year, because she can see to it that the new methods are correctly applied in teaching practice. A team of several teachers is therefore being built at the school, visiting, as Mrs. Krüger, their colleagues’ classes and advising what and how to improve.  

Quality-based remuneration
The school in Praha 4 is changing, together with elementary schools in Karviná, Horka in Moravia and Zdice in Central Bohemia, thanks to the Helping Schools Succeed project. Petr Kellner, owner of the PPF financial group, invests about CZK 30 million in the project every year. Teachers of these public schools can also improve their income; salary improvements are also part of the career rules, which are being prepared by the government. The Kellner Family Foundation requires that the school selected by the foundation should draw up a plan of what it needs for its teachers’ development.

The Kunratice teachers can earn CZKL 2,000 per month more on average, while the average gross salary of an elementary school teacher is currently CZK 26,851. The amount of the bonuses paid to each teacher depends on how successful they are in meeting their professional development objectives they set themselves at the beginning of the school year. The purpose is clear: even public school teachers have to prove they have improved professionally before their salary can be increased.

Teacher and assistant working as a tandem
Thanks to the foundation, the Kunratice school was able to introduce teacher/assistant pairing for instruction. “We tell each other which part of the class we want to teach. For example, today I started to recap with the kids about anorexia and bulimia and in the meantime, Věra prepared for me a video recording of the You Are What You Eat TV show to start a new theme of obesity,” says teacher Pavlína Rosická, commenting on the full utilization of class time.

Tandem teaching is still quite rare in the Czech Republic. In other schools, assistants are there only to assist students with various limitations but at Kunratice, they mainly assist teachers. All the assistants in the Kunratice school are also part-time teachers; this means that fresh graduates from teacher training colleges have a part-time teaching job and can gain hands-on experience from their colleagues in the classroom. Experienced middle school teachers, on the other hand, spend several hours a week assisting elementary school teachers in math lessons. “We use Professor Hejný’s method to teach math at the first level of the elementary school. I also want the middle school teachers to have a good command of the method and apply it in their classes,” explains Vít Beran, Principal of the school.

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Private money for Czech schools

Helping schools succeed
The Kellner Family Foundation invests CZK 30 million annually in four public primary schools. This money is intended to encourage teachers’ professional development and to ensure that they do their job as best as possible. The schools spend these funds on educational courses, school psychologist, and on assistants and coaches for the teachers. Other schools will gradually join in. By 2020, the project will involve 14 schools, creating a network of project schools.

Enjoy math
Last year a group of business people from companies such as Linet, Avast or Google launched a project to support teachers who are able to teach mathematics in a manner that children enjoy.   Private donors contributed CZK 3.5 million in the first year and therefore a hundred teachers can be supported this year.

Best graduates to become teachers
Česká spořitelna [Czech Savings Bank] is launching a program to attract the most talented graduates from science and technical universities to become teachers. Using interest accrued on the CZK 1.6 billion that have remained on anonymous savings books, the bank will spend about CZK 40 million per year on this program.

For  a photo Gallery of the School, please visit obrazem.ihned.cz

(Author | Julie Daňková)

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