Monday, May 6, 2013

Finding agreement . . .

It is not often that I find myself in agreement with Bill Gates, but in this TED Talk preview of a new show he shares his views on giving teachers what they deserve.  I find myself in total agreement with his view that what teachers need and deserve is feedback.  The show premieres on PBS this Tuesday, May 7, at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central.

For my part, I talked about what I think is the most powerful idea in education today: getting teachers the feedback they deserve so they can improve their practice.

It’s amazing to think about how much coaching is given to, say, professional athletes. I have a coach who gives me feedback too. (You’ll have to watch the show if you want to know why.) But most teachers get almost no feedback at all. And the vast majority of countries that outperform us in education have some formal way to give their teachers feedback. So this is an area where innovation and investment can make a big difference for teachers and students in this country.

Providing feedback to teachers has been a focus in our leadership work for a number of years.  We know that changes to instructional practice will not sustain in the absence of feedback, one of the reasons that we developed the feedback protocol that I shared in this blog post last week.  The protocol supports using data from the observation to reinforce behavior aligned with the proposed change and to identify areas for further growth.  The leverage in the protocol comes from the capacity to ask clarifying and reflective questions, another critical component of providing effective feedback.  It is good to see that a long standing practice in our system is being promoted by one of the critical players in the education reform movement.

Once again, here is our feedback protocol.

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