Andrews, Hans A. (2006). Awards and recognition for exceptional teachers: K-12 and community college programs in the U.S.A., Canada and other countries. Ottawa: Matilda Press. (ISBN 0 9787158 0 2)
The subject of teacher recognition and its value to both educational communities and the individuals within them is the subject of Hans Andrews' most recent book. The author of five previous works, this book continues Andrews' efforts to highlight the need for greater awareness of teacher recognition and the use of appropriate means to evaluate teacher performance. In Awards and recognition for exceptional teachers, Andrews outlines his argument for the use of teacher awards and recognition schemes, highlighting their use in the United States of America in detail with a cursory inclusion of programs in place in other regions of the world, including Australia.
Composed of two quite distinct sections, the book commences with a review of current statistics regarding the frequency teacher recognition programs are implemented in the various educational systems within the USA. Research quoted suggests that such programs may only be available in around 60% of community colleges and about 50% of K-12 schools. Andrews emphasises that those establishments that lack recognition programs are more likely to have reduced teacher morale and educational effectiveness. He suggests these effects stem from a lack of valued recognition and effective monitoring programs within educational settings. Andrews makes the point that award and recognition programs are important for improving classroom teaching, teacher satisfaction, recruitment and retention of outstanding new teachers and, consequently improved student learning outcomes.
It is in this first section that Andrews also suggests some key facets of educational recognition and award programs. He suggests a suitable philosophy be defined and committed to when developing an awards framework and that this should be based on values identified by those who have administrative responsibility for the award program. To assist with the implementation of these values, Andrews classifies five objectives that can be more readily monitored as indicators of a successful awards and recognition program. These objectives are: improvement in the quality of education; promotion of positive attitudes within faculty and students; improvement of the teaching environment for teachers; improved public image of teaching profession and schools; and, a caring attitude projected by administrators to faculty. Andrews also highlights six outcomes of recognition programs on individuals. Such programs boosted the individual's self-esteem; renewed their confidence in their teaching; gave individuals a voice in their progression; spotlighted the individuals' areas of expertise; inspired each recipient to work harder; and such programs validated the individuals' ideas.
In the second section of his book, Andrews commences an exploration of the award and recognition programs in use at all levels of educational systems within the USA. He also reviews a limited number of programs from other countries, including Australia. Each program identified is named alongside a short section dealing with the award's nature and a brief statement of relevant award criteria. Some awards are explored in more detail, with the inclusion of the history of the award and its effect on recipients of it.
It is this second section that I have found disappointing. After a strongly argued introduction to the need for awards and recognition for teachers, along with some suggestions for the methods to implement a program, Andrews has offered no analysis of the presented award programs. He offers no insight into each program's success or otherwise, nor does he outline the means through which these programs have deduced from their devised values and objectives the criteria on which the award is made.
This lack of depth when reviewing each award program makes much of this work to be a listing of awards programs that could easily be found by a simple search of relevant educational resources. A more refined analysis of each program - its values, objectives and criteria would have been more beneficial in the development and implementation of programs in those systems where new programs are required.
In conclusion, Awards and recognition for exceptional teachers develops a useful argument for the implementation of such programs and provides a listing of relevant programs operating within the various educational sectors in the USA and some other selected countries. A lack of more detailed examination of these programs inhibits the usefulness of this work for those seeking to implement new programs in their own establishment.
Iona Presentation College, WA