Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Selling, teaching and building cars

Selling has been my profession for many years.  There are a lot of reasons I like sales, but one of the biggest is the possibility of commissions. The harder I work, the more people I see, the greater the possibility that the big sale will come my way. 

You might ask then, why I am against merit pay and promotions for teachers based on test scores of the children they teach?  Simple answer, the control of my client base is in my control.  Teachers don’t have that some control.  Teachers must deal with whoever is placed in front of them. 
If the prospects on my current list will never make a purchase, I find new prospects to replacement them.  If the people that are buying from me can only spend a small amount of money, I find others that can spend more money.  With some exceptions, if the geographic area that is my territory is economically depressed, I can move away from the territory.  In short, I find a client list that will purchase, that can spend lots of money and in a territory that allows a return.  I then build a long term relationship with them.

Teachers are not able to do that.  If the students in the class are not interested in learning, if they family doesn’t support the children and the community ignores them at best, the teacher can do a lot of things, but she is working against the culture.  The teacher has no control over the family life and the community the kids live in.  Finally, they only have most of the students for nine months of the year.  A new batch clears the old out each school year.  Starting over from scratch is a tough thing to do.
It is like working in a factory building cars.  The people that work in the factory are always blamed if the cars are lemons.  But, in many cases, the material that the parts are made from are bad, the parts will be defective.  The worker assembles the car the best he can, but when the parts are bad, the car will not run like it should – if at all.  Would it be appropriate to reward the workers that assemble cars made from good parts but not the workers who worked just as hard but were provided defective parts?
Don’t take any of this the wrong way.  It is not my intention to let bad teachers off the hook.  I worked with schools professionally for six years as a public relations director.  There is nothing more frustrating for administrators then teachers that don’t care and do nothing to improve their methods.  Administrations work with them for as long as they can, then find ways to get them out of the classroom. 

Every teacher should work as hard as they can to get the interest of the kids they are given and get them to learn.  Over 90% of them do just that.  But, without the control of the product, you can’t make judgments about the teacher.