Bill Gates: Teachers need real feedback | Summary and Q&A

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May 8, 2013
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TED
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Bill Gates: Teachers need real feedback

TL;DR

This content addresses the need for better feedback and support systems for teachers in order to improve education.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the main issue with the current feedback system for teachers?

The main issue with the current feedback system for teachers is that they receive very little systematic feedback to help them improve their practice. Over 98 percent of teachers only receive one word of feedback: "Satisfactory."

Q: How do the rankings for reading proficiency in the US compare to other countries?

The US is tied for 15th in reading proficiency, along with Iceland and Poland. However, out of all the countries that perform better than the US in reading, 11 out of 14 have a formal system in place to help teachers improve.

Q: What is one key factor in Shanghai's academic success?

Shanghai ranks number one in reading, math, and science. One of the key factors in their success is the way they help teachers keep improving. They provide opportunities for younger teachers to watch master teachers, have weekly study groups, and require teachers to observe and give feedback to their colleagues.

Q: What have studies shown about the effectiveness of the Measures of Effective Teaching project?

The Measures of Effective Teaching project, which involves watching videos of teachers in the classroom and using student surveys, has shown that teachers who perform well on these observations have better student outcomes. The videos and surveys have also been helpful diagnostic tools for teachers, pointing out specific areas where they can improve.

Summary

In this talk, Bill Gates highlights the importance of teachers receiving feedback in order to improve their practice. He discusses how the current feedback system for teachers is inadequate and how it impacts students and America's global leadership. Gates looks at countries with successful education systems and examines the role of feedback systems in their achievements. He introduces a project called Measures of Effective Teaching (MET), which involves observing teachers in the classroom and gathering feedback from students. He presents a video example of a teacher using video feedback for personal growth and reflection. Gates emphasizes the need for a comprehensive teacher feedback and improvement system, acknowledging the challenges and costs involved but emphasizing the potential impact on teachers, students, and the country as a whole.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why does Bill Gates believe that everyone needs a coach?

Bill Gates believes that everyone, including athletes, needs a coach because coaches provide feedback that helps individuals improve. They offer guidance and point out areas for growth and development.

Q: Why does Gates think it is important to provide feedback to teachers?

Gates believes that teachers are one of the most important groups of people and deserve feedback to help them improve their practice. He notes that the current system of evaluating teachers provides little useful feedback, often consisting of just a single word, "satisfactory." Without meaningful feedback, teachers don't have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, making it difficult for them to grow as professionals.

Q: How does Gates argue that the current system of evaluating teachers is unfair?

Gates argues that the current system of evaluating teachers is unfair because it doesn't provide them with the necessary feedback to improve their practice. This lack of feedback affects not only teachers but also students and America's global leadership. He believes that a more comprehensive and fair feedback system is needed to ensure that all teachers have the tools and support to be effective educators.

Q: Which countries provide good models for teacher feedback systems?

Gates looked at countries with high academic performance and found that many of them have formal systems in place to help teachers improve. For example, the province of Shanghai in China, which ranks number one in reading, math, and science, has a system that allows younger teachers to observe master teachers, participate in weekly study groups, and provide feedback to their colleagues. Gates suggests that the success of these education systems is partially due to the support and feedback provided to their teachers.

Q: What did the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project involve?

The MET project involved working with 3,000 teachers in districts across the country. Observers watched videos of teachers in the classroom and rated them on various practices. Additionally, students filled out surveys that provided feedback on their teachers. This combination of video observation and student feedback helped identify strong teaching practices and areas where improvement was needed.

Q: What did the MET project find about the relationship between teacher observations and student outcomes?

The MET project found that teachers who scored well on the video observations had better student outcomes. This suggests that the observations were asking the right questions and were effective indicators of teaching quality. It reinforced the idea that feedback and observation are valuable for teacher improvement.

Q: How did teachers in the MET program find the videos and student surveys as diagnostic tools?

Teachers in the MET program found the videos and student surveys to be helpful diagnostic tools. The videos provided a realistic view of their teaching practice, highlighting areas for improvement that might otherwise go unnoticed. The student surveys provided valuable feedback on specific aspects of teaching, allowing teachers to understand how well they were meeting their students' needs and how they could correct any mistakes.

Q: Why does Gates believe that a comprehensive feedback system is needed for teachers?

Gates believes that a comprehensive feedback system is needed for teachers because there is a significant variation in the effectiveness of teachers. Some teachers are far more effective than others, and if all teachers could reach the level of the best educators, students' learning outcomes would greatly improve. A comprehensive feedback system would provide all teachers with the support and resources necessary to reach their full potential.

Q: What challenges does Gates recognize in building a complete teacher feedback and improvement system?

Gates acknowledges that there are challenges in building a complete teacher feedback and improvement system. One challenge is that some teachers might not initially be comfortable with the idea of having a camera in their classrooms. However, Gates suggests that if teachers manage the process themselves and have control over the videos they submit for feedback, many would be willing to participate. Additionally, building such a system would require a significant financial investment, potentially costing up to five billion dollars.

Q: What impact does Gates believe a comprehensive feedback system would have?

Gates believes that a comprehensive feedback system would have a phenomenal impact on teachers. It would provide them with much-needed feedback and the means to act on it, allowing for continuous improvement. Furthermore, it would benefit the country by ensuring that all students receive a high-quality education and have the opportunity to pursue fulfilling careers and achieve their dreams. Gates sees this as a way to create a more successful, fair, and just society.

Takeaways

Bill Gates emphasizes the need for a comprehensive teacher feedback and improvement system. He highlights the importance of feedback in helping teachers grow and calls for a shift in the current system, which provides inadequate feedback to teachers. By learning from successful education systems in other countries, such as Shanghai, China, Gates advocates for implementing strategies like observations, video feedback, and student surveys to support teacher development. While acknowledging the challenges and costs involved, he believes that a complete feedback system can have a transformative impact on teachers, students, and the nation's education system.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Teachers need systematic feedback in order to improve, but currently, they receive very little useful feedback in the US.

  • Countries with high-performing students have formal systems in place to help teachers improve.

  • A project called Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) has been working with teachers in the US to develop a system of video feedback for teachers to improve their practice.

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