Receiving an award, getting a scholarship on the work you did, that is rewarding. Granted, not many times this happens but when it does it boosts your self-confidence and adds to your career. For a professionals’ personal satisfaction these rare moments of laudation strengthen ties with work and work environment. Who does not want to win a price well deserved? May be for that reason the trend of giving out awards is spreading (1). At the New Year receptions, on evenings at professional conferences, and at specially organized organization meetings you have them: Best awards for… No disdain here, it is important to be able to celebrate, in a community, as colleagues working together. Recognition of outstanding performance is the underlying reason to award – the goose that lays a golden egg, will make the organization richer, according to the fairy tale.
But does it work that way? The cited study provides an in-depth look on how teacher recipients and educational leadership view award winning in school organizations. The stakeholders have quite different goals in mind. Leaders want it for raising output ratings; teachers for improving student learning. All in all they hold awards in a positive way but not extremely. What stands out for all concerned is the innovative trigger an award provides. Excellent performance, embedded in new ideas and outstanding teaching, sets a higher standard.
The thing is: does award-giving lead to higher levels performance that will spread beyond the lauded winner of the award? An egg is for hatching. The study in this case reported that “Over half have presented their work in peer-reviewed venues”. It is a start. But also a meager result. What if we would consider Laying Golden Eggs not to be a back-end issue, i.e., a closure, but better view it as a front-end problem, i.e., a beginning? In this case, laying golden egg is not a rare and exceptional accomplishment but something to breed, nurture, and multiply. In education practice, there are many exemplary enactments to be found (2) that invite to follow, care for, and reproduce. Searching for golden eggs is not just a thing to do at Easter, i.e., special occasions, but an activity for teachers and educational leaders to go for all the time.
Laurel Willingham-McLain (2015). Using a scholarship of teaching and learning approach to award faculty who innovate, International Journal for Academic Development, 20:1,58-75,
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2014.995661