Mimanifesto – Jaye’s weblog

Teacher improvement or professional development?

Posted on: February 4, 2013

Bill gates has recently been talking about teaching. Specifically, what makes a good teacher and how do we improve teaching. he makes an interesting claim, backed up by his foundation’s research that most teachers receive little or no feedback to help them develop and improve their practice. He goes on to outline some of the findings in his research report about how to measure teacher effectiveness,. He concludes by positing the view that it is possible to effectively evaluate teacher performance by several different measurements, but that most schools, districts, groups or authorities might baulk at the cost…

Its an interesting report, and he’s interviewed for CNN here.  Gates is obviously very passionate about good teaching and learning. So am I. However, I’m also concerned about the nature and purpose of teacher effectiveness evaluations. I think that classroom observations are invaluable in giving feedback to teachers, provided that its done with the aim of improving learning and teaching and not to grade or rate the teacher.

if we want a teaching profession in which we can be confident to trust the learning of our children, bringing them on a seamless journey through learning leading them to adulthood well equipped as responsible citizens and lifelong learners, then we need to look at teacher evaluation not as a grading tool but as a part of an integrated professional development programme. This is one reason why I’m so against any so-called performance-related pay schemes in teaching..

Ongoing continuous professional development, backed up by performance review meetings which centre on development rather than measurement and box-ticking should be a part of any teacher’s working life. But performance measurement might well be a very stormy sea to sail across…Gates talks about empowering teachers to be the best. Thats a sentiment we should perhaps keep in mind when looking at professional review for teachers.

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