Bill Gates says the key lever for helping achieve different outcomes with students is simple: Teachers need real feedback.
In a recent TED Talk Gates detailed the findings of a three-year study called Measures of Effective Teaching (MET), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
While the MET study focused broadly on measuring teachers’ success through observations, student surveys, and test results, Gates focused his message primarily on the importance using recorded lessons to provide teachers with feedback and support.
For personal and professional development, it is incredibly helpful to have a coach. Teachers, however, have been left virtually siloed from the feedback of their peers and administrators.
Gates cites “98% of teachers have gotten only one word of feedback: Satisfactory.” Comparing the U.S. education system with other countries, Gates says we are only “the best at failing to give teachers help they need to develop skills.”
Mr. Gates closes his presentation discussing the power of video for giving teachers real feedback. Classroom observations offer the most effective form of feedback. Yet, the current system of in-person observations is too resource intensive; it is expensive to get trained professionals to physically observe classrooms.
The use of video for these observations was a key element to the MET study and was proven to easily and efficiently highlight key areas for improvement. To create a single, comprehensive teacher feedback program utilizing recorded classroom lessons, Gates estimates it would cost the equivalent of only 2% of current spending on teachers.
Our keystone belief, much like Mr. Gates’, is that teachers and aspiring teachers need real feedback in the form of classroom observations. Teacher education, teacher certification, and teacher improvement all require such. The benefits of a distributed, online portal for recording and observing lessons have never been so apparent.