Bill Gates to teachers: Most difficult act of leadership is not fighting the enemy; it’s telling your friends it’s time to change.

Bill Gates spoke to the AFT on July 10th. Here is an excerpt of what he told the teachers:

Great teaching is the centerpiece of a strong education; everything else revolves around it. This is the main finding of our foundation’s work in education over the past ten years.

I have to admit – that is not where we started. Our work in schools began with a focus on making high schools smaller, in the hope of improving relationships to drive down dropout rates and increase student achievement.

Many of the schools we worked with made strong gains, but others were disappointing. The schools that made the biggest gains in achievement did more than make structural changes; they also improved teaching.

If great teaching is the most powerful point of leverage – how are we going to help more teachers become great?

In 2008 and 2009, our foundation partnered with Scholastic on a national survey to learn the views of 40,000 teachers on crucial questions facing your profession.

Teachers said in huge numbers that they don’t get enough feedback. They’re not told how they can improve.

When I was working in software, many times I would look at the computer code someone wrote and I’d say: “Oh, wow, this guy is good. That’s better than what I would have written. What process did he go through? How did he model it?” Whenever I found someone great, I would study how they worked. I looked at every factor that made that person successful.

This happens in a lot of fields.

Some of you may have read a book by Steven Jay Gould about baseball. Gould explains that in the 1920s and ’30s, there was a big gap between the highest and lowest batting averages. But over time, people learned from each other, the gap narrowed – and the average hitter today is much closer to the best hitter.

That’s an important mark of a profession: the difference between the average and the great becomes smaller – because everyone is eager to get better, and they’re doing everything they can to learn from the best. That trend improves the entire profession. But it requires a process: you have to identify the skills of the best and transfer them to everyone else.

That hasn’t been happening enough in teaching. And that give us a big opportunity.

This is the work our foundation is trying to foster in Pittsburgh, Hillsborough County, and other communities that have agreed to be part of two projects we’re funding: the Measures of Effective Teaching project, and our Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching.

The first of these projects addresses a big gap in our knowledge: There has been a lot of research done about the impact of effective teaching, but little research has been done on what makes teaching effective.

That’s the research we’re doing now with nearly 3,000 teachers in six school districts who have volunteered to open their classrooms to visitors, to video cameras, to new assessments, to watching themselves teach and talking about their practice. Many of these teachers are members of the AFT. I want to thank those of you who are here today for being part of this project.

They’ll put special focus on classes that showed big student gains and try to map it backwards to identify the most effective teaching practices. They’ll also look for what doesn’t work. If a struggling new teacher comes to a veteran colleague and asks: ―What am I doing wrong? –  he should get an evidence-based answer.

Some years ago, if you wanted to watch a great teacher, you had to find one who was teaching in your building during the hour you had free. But today, every teacher should be able to watch great teachers – to see how a master in classroom management handles a disruptive student, or how a great geometry teacher makes a proof interesting. Even just watching your own class can offer huge insight. One teacher in Hillsborough County said: “It’s amazing how much you can learn when you just sit and watch yourself teach.”

No one can choose a world without change. We choose only whether we drive change or react to it.

If you want teachers unions to lead a revolution in American education, please remember: sometimes the most difficult act of leadership is not fighting the enemy; it’s telling your friends it’s time to change.

103 comments Add your comment

Skills non transferable

July 14th, 2010
2:55 am

As Tiger Woods taught us, great skill in one area isn’t necessarily transferable.

“If great teaching is the most powerful point of leverage – how are we going to help more teachers become great?”

Three words: Support their authority.

Hmm…wonder what Microsoft does with the very small percentage of employees who don’t show up, don’t work when they show up, disrupt the works of others, are verbally abusive, and react volatility when management tries to help them or correct them?

You think Microsoft tries to “fix the manager”?

Now if you want real buy in from teachers, give them the authority to be great, then and only then do you have the moral authority to lecture them on what it is to be great.

Skills non transferable

July 14th, 2010
3:07 am

Want to talk about great; talk about Ron Clark. Better yet read the quote from one of his students in the front page article the AJC wrote about Clark. The article Maureen apparently got gun shy about commenting on when she was challenged to run a blog about it, most likely figuring that once again someone would expose the flaws in her agenda.

The quote that said it all: “We couldn’t even talk the first two weeks, unless we were in groups, or the teacher spoke to us first”

Bingo! You establish the primacy of the teacher as the adult authority figure in the room; then surprise! Great things follow.

Now wonder Maureen didn’t want to tackle the topic. She most likely would have blathered on about how other schools don’t have the money, and missed the one sentence that sums up why Ron Clark works…and so many other schools work on cheating.

Can you imagine what teachers in regular public schools could do, if the primacy of the teacher as adult authority figure was as established and supported as it is in Ron Clark’s school.

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HS Teacher

July 14th, 2010
4:28 am

I totally disagree with even his first statement. Great teaching is not THE most important thing in education.

If great teaching is the “centerpiece” of a strong educaiton, then good parents are the table that the centerpiece stands on. Without a strong table (parents), the centerpiece will fall and break.

While I admire Gates for wanting to improve education, he is throwing his money and efforts in the wrong direction. Sure, there are teachers that could be better, but that is not the “table” of this issue.

Parents must do their job to raise their children with appropriate society manners, ethics, values, etc. Parents need to stress to their children the importance of an education. Parents need to be involved with their children – ask them, what did u learn in school, today? That is a great start. Parents need to provide their children with appropriate food, shelter, and an environment where they can learn at home (to do homework, to study, etc.).

It just doesn’t matter how “great” that centerpiece may be, if the table does not support it, it will fall and break just as easily as a “poor” centerpiece.

Concerned

July 14th, 2010
4:41 am

The most important relationship in the school is between the teacher and the student; two human beings. What works in one classroom will not necessarily work in another. Teachers are not robots and neither are students. Teaching and learning still have to be fluid. Teachers must have room to be creative and to try new things. Certain best practices work but not always. The great teacher knows this and adjusts herself/himself accordingly. Not all learning can be measured by test scores. One size in teaching does not fit all. When are we going to realize that people are not programmable. If you have a class of 30 students who are in the 11th grade and 25 read below level, 15 have attention deficit disorders, 10 have behavior disorders, 5 have a learning disability and 2 are gifted, how do you teach that class? And, the teacher next door may have 25 gifted, 3 who read below level, and 1 attention deficit disorder; would your approach be the same?

Try as we might, we cannot find a one size fits all format for teaching. We still are missing a very fundamental aspect of learning. It starts in the home with the parent and child. The child who learns love and respect and whose parent reinforces what is learned in school will fare better than the child whose parent does not. Stop calculating the parents and students out of the equation. However, I applaud Mr. Gates for at least listening to teachers. So many school systems, politicians and parents do not. Everyone who has never tried to teach on their life always thinks that they know how to improve teaching. I think not.

Concerned

July 14th, 2010
4:44 am

Concerned

July 14th, 2010
4:46 am

My comments got caught in the filter but they were in line with yours high school teacher.

Dunwoody Mom

July 14th, 2010
6:52 am

Gates is wrong and I totally agree with HS Teacher. Unfortunately, Gates is throwing around money to try and get his view of education into the schools and, as we’ve seen with RTTT, school systems are willing to “drink the koolaid” to get the money. Here’s an interesting article on the subject:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/11/AR2010071103628.html?sid=ST2010071201582

Oh, also as an aside, test scores in Washington D.C. dropped this year. How did that work out for you Michelle Rhee?

ShaNaNa

July 14th, 2010
6:57 am

The link on the front page reads “Bill Gates talkes to teachers”. Notice anything, editors?

Let teachers teach!

July 14th, 2010
7:13 am

“That’s the research we’re doing now with nearly 3,000 teachers in six school districts who have volunteered to open their classrooms to visitors, to video cameras, to new assessments, to watching themselves teach and talking about their practice. Many of these teachers are members of the AFT. I want to thank those of you who are here today for being part of this project.”

National Board Teachers went through a process similar to what Gates is touting in the excerpt above. Yet, look how Perdue treated them.

historydawg

July 14th, 2010
7:16 am

Gates has not done his research. Repeating the forgetfulness that has dominated education and made schools always failing and the latest fad the savior of education, Gates is ignoring the research in and the history of education in order to push his own agenda.

historydawg

July 14th, 2010
7:18 am

Skills, imagine too if communities invested in education financially the way that Ron Clark has in his students. Republicans in Georgia have made a living on destroying, rather than supporting education–from kindergarten to graduate studies.

Status Quo

July 14th, 2010
7:20 am

If you have been a visitor to the Ron Clark Academy, you would also quickly see that there is one set of expected behavior, and every student is crystal clear on those standards – that’s what they cover the first two weeks of school. It is also clear to each student what the consequences of violating those expected behaviors will be. Every staff member is consistent, each student gets the same response. If there is non-compliance, you are dismissed from the school. When the teacher has the moral authority, great things can be achieved by students and teachers.

Devil's Advocate

July 14th, 2010
7:26 am

If you don’t believe that teachers make a huge difference, then please don’t be one.

Parenets are a huge factor, and always should be, but what if they’re not? We should just give up on those kids? Where do they go? What do they do?

We need to educate kids with bad parents like there’s no tomorrow, or else they will have more kids themselves and this problem will continue to spiral out of control. How do you all not see that?

talke about an ivory tower...

July 14th, 2010
7:35 am

okay, so bill gates – not himself a teacher and well-known for being a bit of a tyrant to work for – is giving us the blueprint for success as educators. since i won’t believe he knows thing #1 about being an effective teacher, i have to ask, “who is behind all this?” seriously, he has to be the least responsible authority in the history of teaching: no teaching chops to speak of and no record of instruction other than bullying from a position of wealth. thanks, maureen, for once again bending over backwards to push the wrong agenda.

Fericita

July 14th, 2010
7:43 am

To be fair, he’s not giving the blueprint of success, he’s looking for it. I’ve always found that one of the most helpful things to improve my teaching is observing great teaching – that’s essentially what this is. I’d love to have a bank of videos available to watch some great lessons or conferences or small group interactions. I have no problem with this. The implications down the line might be troublesome, but for now, this is not a bad thing.

MiltonMan

July 14th, 2010
7:43 am

Wow. 10 comments in and this turns into a Republican bashing thread. Remind me how long DemoRats were in control of this state before Sonny came along. 130+ years of DemoRat control vs. 8 years of Republican control & the poor education system in this state is because of Republicans???

Check out North Fulton/East Cobb schools – the best in the state and you know what they are in Republican areas.

Historydawg – I pray that you are not a techaer because you cannot decipher fact from fantasy. Teachers favor Demorats and their number 1 man Barnes turned on them.

MiltonMan

July 14th, 2010
7:46 am

Let’s hope that DeKalb is the first county to sing-up. The county cannot even find enough math/science teachers around & have to go overseas to find them. Great USA – China producing thousands of engineers a year & we cannot even find enough math teachers.

DunMoody

July 14th, 2010
8:05 am

I actually find much to consider in Bill Gates’ speech: that effective teaching skills can be quantified and shared. Oh, there’s a complex continuum of factors that winnow their way into the classroom. But many of us can identify GREAT teachers and AWFUL teachers. My kids have had both right here in Dunwoody. Instead of reacting defensively to the notion that teaching is just as much a science as an art, let’s consider the fact that the war on mediocre education has many fronts … including the person standing with our kids in a classroom.

historydawg

July 14th, 2010
8:08 am

MiltonMan, fact or fantasy? what does that mean? neither democrats nor republicans have truly supported education in Georgia. The attacks have certainly increased in recent years, as the GOP has reigned. Not all teachers favor Democrats, especially in Georgia. The communities you mentioned have great schools, not because of republican leadership, but because the parents, communities, and teachers can support (financially and otherwise) the children without the help of the state. The poorer areas of Georgia, which are the majority, face tremendous challenges as public schools are abandoned financially and ideologically. Woe to our Republic/Democracy if Jefferson’s warning falls on deaf ears!

Teaching in FL is worse

July 14th, 2010
8:09 am

Like many, I really want a saviour and someone I can beleive in. Unfortunately, Bill Gates does not command my respect as an altruistic individual. He is a ruthless man. Look at the companies that went up against him. His business model is to crush the competition or buy it.

He got away with alot in the US, but the Europeans put a stop to his shady dealings.

Since so many people are already enamored with the idea of education as business, how would charter schools fare under the Gates model? (Charter schools not of his approval, that is.)

Teaching in FL is worse

July 14th, 2010
8:11 am

BTW, a close review of Democrat/Republican views on education will show you there is little difference in most policies.

MiltonMan

July 14th, 2010
8:21 am

As long as public education is a government owned monopoly you will not see much improvement. Spending more money is a typical solution we hear from the Democrat mouths but this have been proven over and over to not be the solution – check out the city of Atlanta to verify this. We spend more in ATL than any other part of the state & they have the worst schools possible (not to mention having to cheat on tests).

Beck

July 14th, 2010
8:27 am

Back to the topic at hand:

I’ve been teaching for 13 years and have Bachelor’s degrees in History Education, African American Studies, a Master’s in History and a Specialist’s degree in Adult Education and an Educational Leadership add-on certificate. I am also a National Board Certified teacher.

What Bill Gates said is in line with best practices in most educational programs. Being able to observe myself, through videotaping for National Board as well as having countless team-teachers, student teachers, substitutes, administrators and department chairs who needed observation hours and chose to do them in my room has provided a great deal of feedback and food for thought.

Teachers who want to improve their craft should be able to observe each other. In graduate school (the last time) I got to do many observations and came away with ways to improve or even just tweak things I was already doing in my room. If a teacher is open to new ideas and methods, I think there are things to be learned in any situation. Even in watching teachers who were less capable than others, I learned a different perspective and was able to reinforce my beliefs about my own system.

It would be VERY helpful if we had the time to observe each other, but with the current funding I just don’t think we will find a way.

Beck

July 14th, 2010
8:30 am

schooled

July 14th, 2010
8:39 am

If Bill Gates wants to be an expert on education he should get a job in a school before he starts giving out advice. A few years ago he was pushing for smaller schools and building relationships so we jumped on the small schools and teacher-as-advisors bandwagon. Now he is blaming the teachers so we have jumped on the RTTT bandwagon so we can tie student achievement to teacher pay. What’s next?

The problem of schools is the lack of discipline and parenting. As a society we don’t want to address the real problem. Mr. Gates could benefit from studying this subject.

Sylvia Lafair

July 14th, 2010
8:44 am

Let’s get all parts of the puzzle on the table. Teachers modeling great teachers; excellent idea. Yet first there are the parents. What kids learn in their original organization, the family, is what they bring to school. Then what about the administrators, school board, and community?
I am working with the administrative staff (21 people) in a school district to build trust through collaboration. This is not “soft stuff”, it is the foundation of an environment that fosters learning. They are in the process of “paying it forward” to teachers who will do the same with the students. Positive change is happening. There are also methods to include parents, school board, and community.
Gates comments about leadership not fighting the enemy, it’s telling friends to change. The book “Don’t Bring it to Work” shows how the rebel pattern can be changed to the community builder. It also talks about how it is the system that needs to be addressed for substantial change to occur. When we think systems we know that “we’re all in it together and no one wins unless we all do” so let’s keep the dialogue going and continue to search for the best methods to educate our children, all children.

AJinCobb

July 14th, 2010
8:50 am

So what to do about kids with inadequate parents? Should we as a society just collectively throw up our hands and declare there’s nothing to be done, to stop the cycle of under-achieving kids becoming under-achieving parents? Many teachers, perfectly understandably, don’t want disruptive students in the classroom. So what should be done with disruptive students?

catlady

July 14th, 2010
8:56 am

How to be a great teacher? Have great students. Not the smartest, not the richest, but those who want to learn and whose parents (who may not be educated at all) expect that the kids learn and don’t bring dishonor on the family. Cultures that have those qualities do very well, and seem to always get “great teachers.”

It’s why I love teaching ESOL. The vast majority of the children I teach have parents who are in charge at their house (usually the dads), and these parents have a strong drive for their children to learn and stay out of trouble.

“Americans” can learn from them.

Overachiever, Under-compensated

July 14th, 2010
9:13 am

@MiltonMan: Your logic on spending is horribly flawed! Atlanta Public schools do spend more money than anywhere else HOWEVER, there is also a higher incidence of poverty, higher cost of living, and less parental involvement than anywhere else. How do you make up the difference? MORE MONEY. It’s not the ONLY solution but cutting funding sure as heck isn’t the answer. You don’t have to believe me… just wait for the test scores from Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, etc…after the huge chunks taken over the last few years. (BTW, I don’t work for them.)

Dunwoody Mom

July 14th, 2010
9:20 am

Gates is a big proponent of this standardized testing nonsense. While he may have some good ideas otherwise, he loses me with his stance on testing.

Skills non transferable

July 14th, 2010
9:23 am

Status quo hit the nail on the head as far as the discipline component in the Ron Clark school, and how essential it is to student success.

You get the feeling Maureen was ready to do a blog on their graduating class-after all it made front page news in the AJC-but when she was put on notice that she wouldn’t be allowed to get away with whining about the cost discrepancy without being held accountable for addressing the discipline standards Ron Clark supports his teachers with, Maureen beat a quick and hasty retreat.

Typical.

check check

July 14th, 2010
9:23 am

Bascially Gates is admitting that he stole tech and ideas from others to get where he is at. He proposes a top down model; where the “data” shows you have to do it this way in this amount of time. Throw out attitude, brain maturity, parental support. We (Gates and crew) know better than you so just sit down, shut up, and do what you are told.

Perplexed2

July 14th, 2010
9:25 am

How very interesting it is that Gates and others seem to have the answers. The true answer begins with strong families and parents sending students to school willing and able to learn. Then the administration needs not to be strangers. They walk through the halls and often do not spaek to the educators that really run the organization. Educators are well educated–Masters degrees, Specailist degrees–Doctorate degrees, yet continuously treated as though they are Mc Donald’s workers. We have to sign in at meetings for attendace. What message does that bring forth? Lack of trust!! Lack of professionalism!!! Teachers often see the administration as the enemy and it is the administrators fault–clear and simple. Why not make time and meet with each educator during planning times and have input–real concrete input from those in the battleground–the classroom. Create a strong Needs Assessment and make necesary change.

ScienceTeacher671

July 14th, 2010
9:39 am

Like others, I’m struck by the similarities between the process Gates recommends and the (discredited by the Georgia General Assembly) process of becoming National Board Certified.

And all the studies I’ve ever seen show that the schools which are most effective with at-risk students (like Ron Clark Academy, KIPP schools, even Youth Challenge for older students) have strong discipline as a common factor.

I have heard “experts” say that this is because there usually is not much structure in the home lives of at-risk children, so they have never learned much self-discipline, and it must be imposed externally before it can be internalized.

AlreadySheared

July 14th, 2010
9:40 am

“…accepting responsibility for our actions is the foundation for personal well-being and fulfillment. Denying your shortcomings and blaming the world for your discontent keeps you mired in unhappiness. Bad things happen to everyone. As long as you blame your parents OR SOCIETY for your problems, YOU GIVE YOURSELF AN EXCUSE NOT TO CHANGE. The moment you accept responsibility for your situation, even though others may have contributed to it, you begin to move in a positive direction.”

“Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness” – Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
(a little Wednesday morning buddhism – EMPHASIS ADDED)

Dr. John Trotter

July 14th, 2010
9:46 am

Bill Gates & Three Realities Of Teaching

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

Not all teachers are the same. Granted. Some are better than others. Some are more skilled than others. Some have better personalities than others. Some have more life experiences and teaching experiences than others. Some are more educated than others. Some are more motivated than others.
With all this granted, the number one influence in whether or not a student becomes well-educated is his or her set of parents (or, in many cases, single parent). I hate to say this, but it sometimes boils down to “the Lucky Sperm Club,” as one of my political friends so bluntly states it.

FACTS:

1. The teacher’s authority is paramount in the classroom. When the educrats undermine this authority, they only hurt the children, not help them. As a previous poster noted, the great success of the Ron Clark experience is first establishing the unquestioned authority of the teacher. The emphasis should be teacher-focused, not this cockamamie student-focused crap. How can ignorant kids teach each other anything? Yet, our teachers are written up today because their classrooms are not student-focused enough. Oh, so we divide up into “centers” or groups and allow the children to teach each other Latin, heh? Is this how they do it at Westminster, Marist, Lovett, Woodward? No.

2. The motivation to learn is a cultural process or phenomenon. Without the proper motivation to learn, no student will learn, regardless of who is teaching. Bill Gates could begin to teach computer programming each day at Atlanta’s Kennedy Middle School, but if the students fail to show up for class (but are loitering up and down the drug-infested James P. Brawley Drive) or when they do show up, they are pushing and kicking each other during class or actually playing digital game on their ubiquitous cell phones, I don’t think even the good ole Harvard drop-out will make a dent in “teaching” these students. Oh, Gates can teach them, but he can’t “learn” them. Only the student can learn, but the student has to be motivated to learn. This motivation is a social or cultural phenomenon. The motivation that he or she brings to school is determined by the more than 85% of the time that a child spends AWAY from school until the child turns eighteen. The schools only have the children for a small percentage of their lives. What happens in the child’s overwhelmingly majority life that is spent away from the school building? Whatever happens is what largely determines whether or not the child brings motivation to learn to the school building. Yes, the influence of their parents is substantial.

3. You cannot have good learning conditions without first having good teaching conditions. Educrats are so mistaken when they assume that coddling and pampering students is what they need. They assume that this is nurturing. No, this is spoiling the students and turning them into spoiled and rotten brats. They become even more hellions than their previous potential. (All children can learn, but all children also have the potential to be hellions.) The students become defiant and disruptive. Effective leaning cannot take place. Yes, a teacher can teach his or her heart out, but if the teaching conditions in which a teacher teaches are so horrific, the student will not learn. A great lawyer can do a masterful job in the courtroom. He or she can defend his or her client, but cannot acquit the client. A great physician can treat a patient, but cannot heal a patient. A great teacher can teach a student, but not learn a student.

These three concepts are essential to effective learning. But, the educrats, like those insisting in the old days that the Earth was flat, are blind and don’t know their rears ends from deep centerfield. They are a great stumbling block to learning. They ought to step aside and let the teachers teach! © MACE, July 14, 2010.

Vertigo

July 14th, 2010
9:47 am

@MiltonMan “Check out North Fulton/East Cobb schools – the best in the state and you know what they are in Republican areas.”

it’s nice to sit back and tout what area is better than another…however, when you have large lower performing areas or areas of extreme poverty – it hurts the entire STATE (yes, even Milton) – in ways that everyone pays (crime, unemployment)

Dr. John Trotter

July 14th, 2010
9:48 am

Mo: My comments on Bill Gates and teaching were hijacked by the Filter Monster. This guy must not like me. It seems that it is more likely than not that he will hijack my comments. Is there an APB on anything that I write that is longer than one short paragraph?

catlady

July 14th, 2010
9:54 am

in the filter

Teacher Reader

July 14th, 2010
9:56 am

Discipline is a huge problem in our schools. Teachers have little to no authority and the children know it, even in kindergarten and first grade. When we allow students to remain in the general classrooms who throw chairs, hit students, teachers, and administrators, and disrupt the learning environment, we have a problem. Yes, this happens in the kindergarten, first, and second grade levels, as well as in high schools.

Discipline is huge in KIPP, Achievement First, and Ron Clark. Students are expected to behave in a certain way, complete homework on time, work hard, and do their best. In public schools in DeKalb, students cannot earn a zero, even if they do not do the work or earn one, students must get multiple chances to complete their work, and untolerable anywhere else is accepted, even when students go to discipline hearings at the district level very little is done.

Mr. Gates has no idea what it is like to be a teacher in today’s world. I would love for him to be in a classroom at any grade level for one week and see if he marches to a different tune. Gates joins whatever developments are favorable at the moment. Until he looks at the way schools are run and operate, he will not come up with any real solutions. Quality teachers are not willing to put up with the garbage that has become a large part of teaching day in and day out.

Maureen Downey

July 14th, 2010
9:56 am

@catlady, Not this time. There is nothing in the filter. I just sprang Dr. Trotter and his was the only comment in there.

catlady

July 14th, 2010
10:00 am

Dr. Trotter: Join the club. At least half of what I submit gets filtered. I have wondered if it filters out those with strange email addresses. I know mine is my maiden and married names, and a local ISP with an odd name. There are many who regularly blog here who never alert that they are filtered. (Perhaps they don’t care?)

I have also noticed that some ajc.com blogs do not seem to have filter problems, or at least no one complains.

I occasionally participate on other newspapers’ blogs and don’t have any trouble; how about you?

The Ron Clark question

July 14th, 2010
10:07 am

The question Marueen can’t ask-apparently because she’s still stuck in full victim mode, unable to come to grips with her Catholic school upbringing and thus unable to address lack of support for the teacher in discipline because she still resents the strong authority her Catholic school teachers had-is this:

It’s isn’t how can we make teachers great like Ron Clark, it’s how many good teachers could do great things if they were giving the same support in matters of discipline that teachers at Ron Clark’s school get?

The problem for Bill Gates is, and the educational machine is, you can only save money by asking that question, not make money.

catlady

July 14th, 2010
10:12 am

Well,that’s odd. I wrote a witty and insightful post about 8:15.

I like that, “I just sprang Dr. Trotter”bit.

catlady

July 14th, 2010
10:22 am

Dear Bill,

Thanks for your helpful work. I want to share mine with you.

I talked to 100 teachers about why we have computer problems. I know you will want to get right on fixing the areas we have noted.

First, from now on you cannot throw away or dismiss any of your resources, human or otherwise. If you have a parts supplier that continues to send faulty parts, you have to fix the parts, continue to use the supplier, and BE THANKFUL you have a job.

Second, we have noted that, even with good parts, our computers are not living up to our standards. Your engineers are not doing their jobs, as our computers cannot figure out what we want them to do before we push any buttons! Obviously, you have some very poor work your people are doing.

Sometimes our computers break down! I mean, even if coffee is spilled on them, or they are left in a hot car all day,or the baby takes a hammer to them, THEY SHOULD STILL WORK! My research shows that we that use them expect for them to work perfectly, no matter what!

Finally, it is obvious that “your people” don’t care enough about the product you sell. Therefore, you must supply a personal computer engineer with each computer/product that you sell, to follow each computer around, AT NO EXTRA COST. In fact, we will pay less for your product.

Now all this is predicated on the computers, software, and parts having NO WILL of their own. Of course, if they do develop the ability to decide to do something different, you will have to take care of that, too.

Yours truly,

Catlady

ScienceTeacher671

July 14th, 2010
10:29 am

If I could be in charge of “fixing” education in Georgia, I think the first thing I would do is really implement something like RTI as the research intended. In other words, if students are struggling in kindergarten or first grade, figure out why and remediate the problem before sending the child on. You wouldn’t build a house without first building the foundation.

Conversely, if children have already mastered a skill, let them move on to the next one, so that they are continually challenged. This would require ability grouping rather than our current age-based grouping, and probably some flexibility as students might be more skilled in some subjects than in others.

There would be other ideas, but that would be the first – make sure students have mastered the prerequisites before trying to teach them something else. Colleges do it.

I’d also try to institute honesty in grading. Don’t give a child a passing grade because s/he works so hard — make sure the child has actually mastered the requisite skills. And when a child is working several years below grade level, don’t give them a passing grade on the CRCT and tell them they are “proficient” — that’s a lie, plain and simple.

Vertigo

July 14th, 2010
10:30 am

@Catlady – BRILLIANT!

ScienceTeacher671

July 14th, 2010
10:31 am

Love it, catlady! :)

Dr. John Trotter

July 14th, 2010
10:31 am

Catlady: That is funny and so true! I know that your ESOL kids love you! Kids do indeed love humor!