It goes without saying that teaching is one of the toughest professions out there. The pay is low, the stress is high, the rules are always changing, and you always get the blame when things go poorly but never the credit if they go well. And the worst part is that unlike other jobs, you rarely get any real constructive feedback on how you're doing or what you could do to improve.
With so much emphasis placed these days on improving test scores and remediating failing schools, it's interesting that so little emphasis is placed in the one area that could make such a difference in both of these areas of education- developing a better system for teacher feedback. Until recently, many teachers only got one word of feedback a year: “satisfactory.” Just think how hard it would be for our kids to grow and improve and learn if the only feedback they got came at the end of the year and told them whether they passed or failed.
The development of better systems for teacher development is a new passion of Bill Gates - the Microsoft mogul turned multi-gazillionaire philanthropist. In this new TED talk, Gates spells out the weaknesses in the current model of teacher feedback and suggests simple ways to improve. He suggests that even great teachers can get better with smart feedback and that by not giving this important information to teachers we are failing to give them the help they need to develop their skills.
Check out his talk in the video below.
Are you a teacher or school administrator? What do you think of Bill Gates' model for improving teacher feedback.