“Satisfactory” Is Not Good Enough


Bill Gates’s Ted talk illustrates that everyone’s need for a coach. No matter who you are you need someone to give you feedback so that you can approve. I believe teachers are the best kind of coaches; they give you feedback, constructive criticism, and advice. Bill Gates points out that of all people, teachers do not have proper coaching, that the feedback that they’re given is usually limited to “Satisfactory.” Teachers need good feedback so they can improve their teaching skills and to help improve today’s students.

Bill Gates discusses how the United States is not even in the top ten countries for reading proficiency, we are tied for 15th place with Iceland and Poland. He shows that 11 out of the top 14 countries have formal systems to help teachers improve. The United States is not giving teachers the resources and help they need to develop their skills. Gates focuses on Shanghai’s system that younger teachers have the ability to work with older and more experienced teachers to learn from them. The teachers get together and discuss in groups what is working and what needs more improved. They have feedback. They require teachers to observe their colleagues and to give them feedback. I know that during my placements here at the U of I, I will be getting these observation hours and this feedback. I know that it will be extremely useful to know what I need to work more on and to hear what I’m excelling at. I think using a system like this would be extremely helpful for teachers both experienced and not. Times change, students change, and what we teach changes, therefore the teachers need to evolve as well. Both now and in my future, I am sure that I would like advice and guidance from the very best teachers so I could become the best teacher I could possibly be.

As we stated in class, many teachers are now being tested on Common Core standards. Teachers who have students who excel on their state tests have the chance to get pay bonuses and those who have students who perform poorly lose that cash bonus or even have the chance of getting fired. I believe that teachers need to be prepared more for this form of assessment. They need the “coaches” that Bill Gates was referring to.

I also enjoy the idea of getting in depth feedback from my own students. Who else knows how effective your teaching is rather than your students. In the Ted Talk it said that the specific examples that the students mentioned in their surveys really helped the teacher know what she needed to improve on or what her students thought she was excelling at. I think this is a great idea that should be implemented more often. One flaw I see though is that, as a student myself, I know that filling out surveys about my teachers and giving feedback can be incredibly tedious.  I think that students must understand how important the concept of feedback is and that it goes hand in hand with their own education. The concept of sending in taped lessons you have taught is also very interesting. Getting feedback on your everyday teaching methods can help the teacher immensely, while this is also a less evasive process that does not intimidate the teacher to have someone watching them and sitting in on their classroom.

Bill Gates states that it would cost around $5 Billion dollars to invest in teacher feedback. It may cost a lot of money but the benefits would be so extremely helpful. Teachers would improve, students would improve, and the country as a whole would improve. If we want change and to rise from 15th to number one, that is what we need, change.   



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