Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bill Gates on Teacher Improvement

Q:”What is the boldest effort that has come from the $290million you’ve awarded to restructure teacher personnel systems?”

A: “We video a great teacher and then she watches it and comments on her video saying, ‘that kid’s foot is jerking. I’m not making this interesting enough.’ Just the narrative of a great teacher talking through what she did right, what she could have done better, is so informative.”

Comment: An interesting idea that school districts could duplicate. Of course, they have to know that certain teachers in the district are “great.” And the teachers can’t have an off-day. Or maybe they can. Because it’s the comments that will be the tool for learning about teachers’ performance. It will almost require some kind of packaging, with an introduction and summary conclusion. Or maybe it doesn’t. Just the raw footage viewed by a group of teachers could be the catalyst for productive discussions.

However, I remember demonstrating a technique for teaching writing to a middle school teacher. The kids loved the technique. Afterwards, he said to me, “I can’t teach like that.” He was a good teacher. I decided not that I was wrong for demonstrating it, but that I would be wrong if I insisted on his using a technique that he did not believe in. RayS.

“Bill Gates Turns Attention Toward Teacher Improvement.” Stephanie Banchero. Wall Street Journal (March 21, 2011), Internet.

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