Bill Gates in Atlanta: Don’t rush teacher evaluations. Do it right.

Here is the speech Bill Gates gave this week at the  Education Commission of the States conference in Atlanta.

I’m very excited to be here. This is a rare opportunity for me to talk to the educators and policymakers who will determine what happens in our schools in the next generation.

And it’s a special honor to be here with so many state Teachers of the Year.

If we wanted to give the United States the best chance for a great future, and we were allowed to pick one thing to promote that – I would pick great teaching in America’s classrooms. In my view, nothing is more important. That is why helping all teachers get better is the primary focus of our foundation’s work in the United States.

Right now, we are funding pilot programs in five urban school districts, working with them to develop teacher evaluation and improvement systems. This is the heart of our work.

Developing a great teacher improvement system is truly difficult – because there are no models. The country’s teachers have been working in systems where almost everyone gets a good evaluation — and almost no one gets any feedback. That’s the key point. Our teachers get no feedback – no guidance on how to get better.

So the goal of our pilot sites is to answer pivotal questions on teaching: What are the great teachers doing? What are the average teachers not doing? And how do you help that average teacher do what the great teacher does? That’s what this is all about.

Now, let me just say that at this time, we don’t have a point of view on the right approach to teacher compensation. We’re leaving that for later. In my view, if you pay more for better performance before you have a proven system to measure and improve performance, that pay system won’t be fair – and it will trigger a lot of mistrust. So before we get into that, we want to make sure teachers get the feedback they need to keep getting better.

Fortunately, 24 states are now working to put in place new approaches to teacher evaluation and development. Just a short time ago, no states had comprehensive evaluation and feedback systems. So this is a great development.

But we need to remember: A new teacher evaluation system is not automatically a good thing. If states and school districts feel pressured to rush out new systems, those systems could evaluate teachers unfairly and fail to help teachers improve. That would be a disaster. A flawed execution of a good idea could convince people it is a bad idea – and that could kill this push for reform.

That’s why today I would like to describe the features of a strong teacher evaluation and development system — and warn against the shortcuts that could lead to failure.

Let me start with one overarching point: a strong teacher evaluation and improvement system costs money. We have estimated that it will cost between 1.5 and 2 percent of the overall budget for teacher compensation and benefits to implement an evaluation system based on multiple measures of teaching performance. This price tag might cause people to try to do this cheaply – to skimp on paying teachers to do classroom observations, to cut corners on training the evaluators, to get stingy on providing the feedback that will help teachers improve. But saving money on those measures would be like saving money on a car by leaving out the engine. One-point-five to two percent is a small investment compared to what is paid now for teacher development that shows little results. It’s possible that the costs could be met by reallocating existing dollars. And the returns in student achievement will be many times the investment. So I hope you will take a stand for spending the money it takes to do this well.

Now, based on our work in the pilot sites, and also from the Measures of Effective Teaching study, which is a large study we are funding that involves 3,000 classroom teachers – we have learned that there are a number of elements that are indispensable to a top-flight program.

The first and most important feature of a strong evaluation and development system is heavy teacher involvement throughout – from the conceptual stage, to the roll out, to revising the program once it’s underway. If someone wants to rush an evaluation system into place – and they think they can speed it through by doing it without the teachers – that is a grave mistake. The system will be low-quality, and will never get buy-in from the teachers.

None of us who work outside the classroom can do anything for students unless we do it with teachers. That’s why working with teachers is rule number one.

The second crucial element is to ensure that teacher evaluations include multiple measures. Some reformers believe that test scores alone are sufficient for teacher evaluation. I strongly disagree. Test scores have to be part of the evaluation. If you don’t ground evaluations in student achievement, evaluations will conclude that “everyone is excellent,” and that holds teachers back.

But using gains on annual test scores as a sole measure of teaching performance has huge drawbacks. First, the tests say how the students are performing too late for the teacher to do anything about it – and the whole purpose of evaluation is better student performance.

Second, annual tests are not diagnostic. If the scores are high, they don’t tell us what the teacher did well. If the scores are low, they don’t tell us what the teacher could do better. Teaching is part art, part science – there are lots of great things that teachers do for students that will never be captured on a test.

That’s why we favor three broad measures of evaluation – classroom observations by trained evaluators based on validated measures of good teaching; student surveys with questions such as: ‘did you work your hardest in this class?’; and third, a measure of student gains in testing.

The third crucial element of getting reform right is to make sure teacher evaluations are fused with professional development.

The key area where evaluation converges with development is in classroom observations. Part of this approach has to include evaluations done by the school principal. That is a crucial part of a sound process. But no principal has the time to be the sole observer for each teacher in the school, particularly at the high school level. Moreover, our Measures of Effective Teaching study found that for evaluations to be reliable, you need multiple observations by multiple observers: not just a once-a-year visit by the principal.

In the best evaluation and development systems, peer evaluators play a vital role in the work, alongside school administrators. In Hillsborough County Florida, one of our pilot sites, they have taken about one percent of the teachers and trained them to identify key teaching techniques that lead to higher student achievement. The peer evaluators observe a class, and then talk to teachers about their strengths and areas they can work on.

When Melinda and I talked to the students in Hillsborough, they said that their teachers are changing the way they teach because of the feedback they’re getting from their peers. They’re engaging the students more, not just lecturing — and the students can feel the difference.

The peer evaluators we talked to were very enthusiastic about their work. They were all confident they were going to be much better teachers when they returned to the classroom.

In Memphis, another pilot site, Melinda and I were invited to join teacher Mahalia Davis, who volunteered for the MET study, as she watched a video of herself teaching a class. Ms. Davis leaned forward in her chair and said, “Look, I just lost that student.” Then she said, “The class wasn’t with me on that point. I need to teach that concept in a new way.”

She told us: “I wanted to do the videos because I want to know how I was relating to students. I want to do my job better.” Now she finally has some of the tools for doing that.

As a point of comparison, you all have heard of Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world. This past May, as he was preparing for the London Olympics, he ran his slowest 100-meter time in 3 years. After the race, he said: “I don’t really know what went wrong. Hopefully, I can go back, look at the replay, and my coach can explain to me what I need to do.”

I think Mahalia Davis deserves the same kind of support as Usain Bolt. It’s true – more people will be watching Usain Bolt than Mahalia Davis, but if you had to ask whose performance matters more in the lives of young kids, Mahalia wins that race going away.

The fourth element of a successful change is to align the curriculum and assessments with the common core state standards, now adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia.

These new common core state standards in Math and English Language Arts pinpoint the concepts that are crucial. The standards are a staircase, and each step equips you to do more complex tasks. The standards in math are similar to the standards used by countries that outperform us in international tests.

The standards in English Language Arts emphasize the ability to read text, analyze it, and apply it at ever higher levels of complexity – with ever greater independence. This is the core of the core. It opens the door to everything.

The common core, rolled out with the right tools and templates, will let teachers teach the content they want, and still focus on the skills and concepts that students most need to learn.

Some people continue to say that the common core state standards are a precursor to a national curriculum. I hope you can help set the record straight. The common core state standards are led by the states, not the federal government; they are about goals, not methods. Their purpose is to create great learners, not to transmit facts.

As long as we all want our students to be able to read complex text and solve difficult equations, the common core state standards should not be controversial.

In addition, the common core will help deliver a huge advantage that our schools have never had before: a large market for new innovations that can help teachers teach at a high level and still reach each child.

Imagine if kids poured their time and passion into a video game that taught them math concepts while they barely noticed because it was so enjoyable. We’ve been supporting the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington, which has developed a free, on-line game called Refraction. The goal of the game is to rescue animals whose ships are stuck in outer space. The ships require different amounts of fuel, powered by lasers. So the players have to manipulate fractions to split the lasers into the right amount of fuel.

As the kids play the game, the teachers watch a dashboard on their computer that tells them how each student is doing, so they know instantly if the student is getting it or not. Teachers no longer have to wait for the unit test to find out if they’re kids understand the material.

Teachers have not had these tools before. Fragmented standards that differ from state to state and district to district have made it hard for innovators to design tools to reach a wide market. The common core will help change that.

In the classroom of the not-too-far-off future, kids will have computer devices with phenomenal interactive content. This will allow teachers to do what they call “flip the classroom.” Instead of learning a concept in class and applying it at home, students would learn the concept at home, on video, and apply it in class, where they can get help from the teacher.

When students learn a concept on video, they can take as much time as they need and learn at their own pace. They can pause the video, rewind it, or just listen to it all over again.

Then the students can use class time to do the problems. The teacher sees instantly on the dashboard which kids are getting it, and steps in if someone is stuck. The students move on when they master the material, and not before. This is very different from the old method where every student moves on to the next topic after the test, whether you got an A or a D.

Now we finally have the answer to the old riddle of education – ‘do you teach to the faster kids or the slower kids?’ This technology will let you teach each child. And often, when the so-called ‘slower kids’ are given the time and attention they need to master a core concept, it turns out they accelerate – and they’re faster than anyone thought.

I hope you’ll do all you can to help speed the adoption of new classroom technology. Teachers have waited long enough. Doctors don’t sit alone in their offices trying to find new ways to heal their patients. They’re supported by a huge industry that is constantly working to provide them better tools. Teachers deserve the same kind of support, and the common core state standards create an historic opportunity to make sure they get it.

We’re on the verge of a new era in our schools. For the first time, we have people who used to oppose each other now pushing together for standards, evaluations, training, and tools that will help every teacher get better.

I’m very excited about this. But I’m not naïve. This is difficult. We have to work together to design this teacher improvement system and make sure it’s implemented well in the early states, succeeds there, and moves to others. This is a delicate job.

But as long as we spend the time and money to get each element right; as long as we don’t let politics block the common core; as long as we let teachers use new technology in the classroom, this could be the educational equivalent of the Big Bang – creating a new universe of learning and discovery for our teachers and students.

Given the opportunities, the next five years could be the most pivotal in the history of America’s public schools. Your support could be decisive.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

131 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

July 12th, 2012
11:55 am

I’m still trying to figure out who died and left Bill Gates in charge of education in this country. Seriously, someone tell me.

Georgia and education not compatible

July 12th, 2012
12:04 pm

@ Dunwoody Mom I was thinking the same thing. He has become one of those dreaded “donors” that folks think they have to put up with in order to get his money.

dbow

July 12th, 2012
12:18 pm

This coming from a man that has done so much damage to public education in such a short time frame.

Dr. Proud Black Man

July 12th, 2012
12:35 pm

@ Dunwoody, Georgia and dbow,

No one has left Gates in charge. He, like ALOT of regular people, are getting tire of the same old song and dance, inability to think outside the box, and corruption/cheating scandals, that “educators” for whatever reason have allowed to flourish in schools.

Dunwoody Mom

July 12th, 2012
12:37 pm

@Dr. Proud Black Man….Gates, Michelle Rhee and that whole crew has created a whole new culture of corruption/cheating in their path to the destruction of public education.

Hillbilly D

July 12th, 2012
12:43 pm

It sounds as much like a sales pitch for using technology (sold by you know who), as anything else.

rennin1

July 12th, 2012
12:45 pm

While at the helm of Microsoft Bill Gates engaged in illegal and unethical behavior that destroyed the futures of tens of thousands of college graduates who happened to work for companies that dared compete in the same market space as Microsoft. Is this the kind of person you want to have telling the rest of us how we should go about educating our children?

Proud Teacher

July 12th, 2012
1:03 pm

Bill Gates is a very rich man and I’m sure he must be very nice as well. However, he doesn’t not squat about education in Georgia. He has never taught a day or dealt with the problems we true educators deal with year in and year out. You want to help us, Bill Gates? Give us the interest for an hour of your fortuen for school supplies and updating outdated technology and you will have done something for us. Otherwise, go back to Africa and help those needy children.

Proud But DisgustedTeacher

July 12th, 2012
1:05 pm

@Dr. Proud Black Man seriously???? If all of the people who really don’t know education would allow those of us who have spent some time “TEACHING” and not doing all of this “administrivia” perhaps kids could LEARN to think outside of the box, analyze and enjoy school. Have you noticed that toddlers and pre-schoolers learn all of the time? They enjoy learning, reading, etc it’s not until all of you who need PROOF and insert your opinions that everything comes to al halt. Kids are not WIDGETS that we can control!!!

SavetheSheeple

July 12th, 2012
1:11 pm

Regardless of who is delivering the message, it’s the right message. Our public education is failing them and technology is the answer. You add properly trained teachers and you’ve got a recipe for greatness.

Dr. Lake

July 12th, 2012
1:13 pm

I am an educator in a rural community and I actually like what Mr. Gates said. I think we are being rushed into teacher evaluations, and he makes the point of teachers have to be part of this implementation.

Dr. Lake

July 12th, 2012
1:15 pm

“He makes the point that teachers have to be part of this implementation.”

Mr. Todd

July 12th, 2012
1:23 pm

I don’t believe that classroom technology has made us smarter. Old school teachers—supremely engaging and caring and knowledgeable teachers with chalk-coated fingers—make us smarter.

Sometimes you don’t even need the textbook or a chalkboard.

http://www.adixiediary.com

Bernie

July 12th, 2012
1:28 pm

Unfortunately, Bill’s wisdom is falling on DEAF EARS! The political Leadership of this STATE is moving FULL SPEED AHEAD of implementing a STATE WIDE school VOUCHER PAYMENT system that will further erode the PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL
system that we all have taken for granted.

The children of Georgia’s future will be PERMANENT citizens of this Nations
POOR and impoverished for generations to come.

Wait for US, MISSISSIPPI we will be joining you for the race to the BOTTOM as soon as possible.

Hillbilly D

July 12th, 2012
1:29 pm

Mr. Todd

I’m still thankful that I had the first grade teacher that I had. She seemed ancient at the time but was probably in her 50’s. She knew how to teach and guide us along. I picked things up pretty easily but even then, I noticed that she taught the struggling students differently, than she did people like me. Looking back on it, she seemed to know just what each kid needed to progress.

As for technology, we had those big, fat, red pencils and we weren’t allowed to used pencils with erasers. No hiding mistakes was the point, I reckon.

catlady

July 12th, 2012
1:29 pm

Well, reading the first few comments made me feel better. What I hear from B. Gates is a lot of background noise: blah blah blah. Total static. Unfortunately, powerful static, but static just the same. And he’s recommending more technology? What a surprise! Like an Inuit recommending ice!

Dr. Proud Black Man

July 12th, 2012
1:33 pm

@Dunwoody Mom

Michelle Rhee was/is an “educator” so you kind of prove my point.

@Proud but disgusted

Ive been in the classroom for 10+ years and the amount of hyperbole coming from inside the system never fails to astound me. Btw who is saying kids are widgets? Nice Strawman.

Mr. Todd

July 12th, 2012
1:36 pm

Way to go, Hillbilly D! Seems like if we get right down to who’s really responsible for becoming educated … I believe it’s ultimately up to … the student! Yeehaw, hillbilly bother. Never give up.

Hillbilly D

July 12th, 2012
1:40 pm

Mr Todd

I remember my first day of school, vividly. I was five years old and went straight into first grade, never a day in kindergarten, as it was called then. I woke up at like 4 AM because I was dying to go to school. I wanted to learn to read. It was a bit of a letdown though because somehow I’d gotten it into my head, that I’d learn to read the first day. :lol:

hssped

July 12th, 2012
1:48 pm

Put cameras in every room and tape every class, every day. That will make the slackers (both teachers and students) shape up and fly right. An observation, here and there, really means nothing. Tape EVERY class, EVERY day and then review those tapes of teachers that have underperforming students against those that have on-level/above students. Then one will be able to actually compare and make some suggestions. Of course, most parents won’t agree to having their kids taped…right?

Proud But DisgustedTeacher

July 12th, 2012
1:56 pm

@Dr. Proud Black Man I agree with the foolishness. I have been in the classroom for 22 years and if I could TEACH or if sometimes they would listen to those of us who teach it would make a difference. I am the first to say that there are a lot of people who are in the classroom that shouldn’t be but part of it is because the ones that really want to teach are fleeing because it’s unbearable. I know that the only constant is change but please…..

MA

July 12th, 2012
1:57 pm

This is an example of people with money butting into an area they do not understand. Like ignorant actors (who are skilled in acting) do in politics (which they know absolutely nothing about other than what they are told).

GrandScheme

July 12th, 2012
1:58 pm

If you trace history, you will notice that most high wealthy individuals were and are in some form involved in education. Carnegie (units) is all over and in education still today, Rockefellers, JP Morgan, Gates as well as other corporate families.

Mfon Bassey

July 12th, 2012
1:59 pm

Mr Gates seems to make a lot of sense.No doubt technology will enhance teaching & learning in our classrooms.Go 4 it Mr.Gates.

Mr. Todd

July 12th, 2012
2:05 pm

Technology might help keep the classroom peace. I’ll give you that much.

I guess you could say a DVD player hooked up to a TV screen in the corner of the classroom is technology. It didn’t make any of us smarter, but it made me feel like a teaching revolutionary. One day I figured if they came into the classroom with a movie already playing that they would scoot to their desks and start the class period off without bickering at each other, dropping their books on the floor because they love the loud noise that makes, or trying to sneak candy out of The Globe of Happiness. My idea sort of worked. They typically did only one of those.

Anyway, I played Civil War documentaries, Nacho Libre, The Outlaw Josey Wales, School of Rock, Dorf on Golf, and The Right Stuff, among a number of other mesmerizing, teacherly selections. They loved it. Every single student loved the idea. Of course, the time came when we had to turn the movie off and get to work and chicken chucking. But the dramatic exhibition of hard work and good behavior was always rewarded by giving them the last few minutes of class off so they could repeat Nacho’s infamous fart scene or watch Josey gut Captain Terrill, who sure did deserve it, with a sharp saber.

http://www.adixiediary.com

[...] Gates’s speech in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.  Learn about UW CSE’s Center for Game Science here.  Play Refraction [...]

Productive Debate

July 12th, 2012
2:21 pm

@Dunwoody Mom and others.. wouldn’t it be more productive to attack the message rather than the messenger? It seems as if you completely ignored everything he had to say , and just went into a rant about why Bill Gates seems to have a voice in education. I understand your base argument.. but, is it not possible that he has some knowledge about education that is worthy of your consideration? Is it not possible that in all the pilot programs that he has funded in education around the country that he has actually learned a few things from actual educators who talk directly to him about what they see as the issue? Is it not possible that he might be providing a voice to those who, frankly speaking, dont have the money or influence to push their way into a national debate/discussion on education? Is it not possible that he genuinely cares and really does want to help and does not have some selfish motive to sell technology to school systems? For that matter Microsoft Technology had a huge presence in schools well before Bill Gates landed on the education debate circuit.

It just oftentimes seems that there’s some unbeknownst to me list of prerequisites that must be present to give credibility to a person when it comes to the education debate. If there is such a “list”, I’d love to see someone respond on this blog with it.

crankee-yankee

July 12th, 2012
2:21 pm

I like his point as to teacher input in the process of reform. Took long enough for someone to acknowledge that.

Perhaps he felt the need to say that because of the daylight being shed on GA’s push for a new evaluation system that Dr. Barge finds lacks sufficient research behind it. The feds should take notice, I always though Duncan was a loose cannon, some of the decisions coming of of DC confirm it.

I’m not ready to drink the local kool-aid on evaluation restructuring beyond the fact it needs to be done. But sound research needs to be included as opposed to the cardiac approach… “I know in my heart this is the right thing to do.” Prove it first, then implement it. A shortened pilot year IS NOT sufficient to find & address the problems that will surface in any project of this magnitude.

Mr. Todd

July 12th, 2012
2:25 pm

Sales knows no hours. The people who know the most about a company’s faults and good parts are the salesmen. The people who know the most about a school’s faults and good parts are the teachers. When you’re the person actually providing the product to the customer you will be amazed about how much you come to know about everything and everybody.

http://www.adixiediary.com

YALLOweMe

July 12th, 2012
2:31 pm

@MA at 1:57pm – “This is an example of people with money butting into an area they do not understand.”

So Gates, the visioneer and starter of a disruptive technology known as PC, doesn’t understand education? You must think too much of educators.

Not surprised

July 12th, 2012
2:40 pm

I wonder if the school kids in China are using technology?? They are producing 600,000 engineers per year and we/US are producing??
Google singularity and tell me how you will survive the future without technology?

MA

July 12th, 2012
2:52 pm

MA@1:57 – I really don’t like when people take my screen name! Now I have to come up with a new one. Geez! But, I do agree with your statement. I – the real MA didn’t write that though.

Jm

July 12th, 2012
2:53 pm

Amen Bill Gates. Thank heavens he is making so many contributions to move the ball down the field.

The status quo (failure) is no longer acceptable teachers.

Embrace the change or get left behind.

Let's See the Charter

July 12th, 2012
2:53 pm

I am happy Bill Gates is taking a more measured approach this time around. The “small schools” he advocated failed. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/05/23/bill-gates-selling-bad-advice-to-the-public-schools.html

Jm

July 12th, 2012
2:55 pm

“The people who know the most about a company’s faults and good parts are the salesmen. ”

Not really true. Sometimes the salesman are the problem.

Jm

July 12th, 2012
2:58 pm

No, the sexual abuse is not on par with a recruiting cheating scandal.

Ergo, shutting down the football program is the minimum they should do.

When sports become more important than everything else, it’s time to shut it down. Penn can live without football for a while.

Mountain Man

July 12th, 2012
3:00 pm

“They are producing 600,000 engineers per year and we/US are producing??”

China has a population of 1.3 billion, so that is a graduation rate of less than 0.46% of the population as engineers. The population of the US is about 309 million and we graduate about 140,000 engineers, so that is about the same percentage.

LOGICAL

July 12th, 2012
3:01 pm

THANK YOU “Productive Debate”. Couldn’t have said it better. Gates does make a lot of sense. He points out how difficult this is going to be and the comments already posted prove that that difficulty will be compounded by the fears, paranoia and cynicism of people who are afraid of change. Does any thinking person actually believe he is funding the various studies and putting his personal time into it just to “sell more technology”? Obviously he knows what technology can do, he believes in it and feels it can help. He also addressed a lot more than just technology if you read the whole article. Gates could be sitting on a beach for the rest of his life. I admire him and his wife for even trying to help out in the face of such ridiculous knee jerk responses. To echo what “Mfon Bassey” said Bill, GO 4 IT!

Jm

July 12th, 2012
3:02 pm

Wrong blog oops

Mountain Man

July 12th, 2012
3:03 pm

And China is able to produce more engineers because they focu their education efforts only on the good students and don’t try to foce EVERY student to achieve even a minimal education. Spending more on the bottom and SPED means spending less on the top tier.

Jm

July 12th, 2012
3:03 pm

Maureen feel free to pull the bookman blog comments

Michael Moore

July 12th, 2012
3:30 pm

I could easily take issue with every point made in this speech, but I’ll just focus on the beginning: “I’m very excited to be here. This is a rare opportunity for me to talk to the educators and policymakers who will determine what happens in our schools in the next generation.”

Let’s be very clear that educators and policymakers do not determine what happens in our schools. What is now happening in schools is the result of unusual cooperation among Bill Gates and his foundation, the consulting giant McKinsey and Company, ACT, SAT, Achieve and the publishing icon Pearson. Educators have had no place at the standards and assessments tables. The funding is and has been calling all the shots.

One more point: Gate’s speech is about improving teacher performance and the only way he discusses how this might be accomplished is through assessments. Stop victimizing the teaching profession and lift the profession. Nothing can be accomplished through fear and reprisals.
Good teaching does not and never has existed in a vacuum. It exists with support from all stakeholders.

Ed Johnson

July 12th, 2012
3:34 pm

For a perspective on Gates’ culture at Mircosoft…

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/07/microsoft-downfall-emails-steve-ballmer.print

Does some it ring familiar?

Mountain Man

July 12th, 2012
4:00 pm

So how does Bill Gates recommend solving the problems of absenteeism, student (and parent) apathy, discipline in schools, and social promotion?

(Reminds me of a joke: Response from Bill Gates to the question “How do you propose dealing with the twin problems of ignorance and apathy?” Gates answer ” I don’t know, and I don’t care!”)

Mary Elizabeth

July 12th, 2012
4:09 pm

I was very pleased to read the following comments by Bill Gates. Those who have followed my thoughts regarding mastery learning and the value of teaching each student where he or she is functioning, and at his/her own pace, will understand why I am pleased with these remarks:
————————————————————————————–

“When students learn a concept on video, they can take as much time as they need and learn at their own pace. They can pause the video, rewind it, or just listen to it all over again.

Then the students can use class time to do the problems.The teacher sees instantly on the dashboard which kids are getting it, and steps in if someone is stuck. The students move on when they master the material, and not before. This is very different from the old method where every student moves on to the next topic after the test, whether you got an A or a D.

Now we finally have the answer to the old riddle of education – ‘do you teach to the faster kids or the slower kids?’ This technology will let you teach each child. And often, when the so-called ‘slower kids’ are given the time and attention they need to master a core concept, it turns out they accelerate – and they’re faster than anyone thought.”
—————————————————————————————

If Bill Gates happens to read the comments on this thread, I would offer one suggestion to the idea of “flip the classroom” instruction. I would not make this instructional “flip” a plan for every day of the week. Two or three days a week would be more advisable because, during teachers’ lectures of new concepts, students should be able to raise their hands to interact with a live teacher concerning the content of the teacher’s lecture, as it unfolds. In fact, a master teacher would encourage student participation in – and student engagement with – the live teacher’s lecture on new concepts delivered, as the lecture unfolds. This interaction cannot be accomplished during a lecture presented by a teacher on video. It is true that the student could rewind and hear concepts again, at his own pace – and that is good – but he could not probe the video teacher’s mind regarding WHY he is not understanding the concepts taught. A master teacher would know HOW the mind of each of her students processes information and the live teacher, therefore, could answer – with individualized precision and knowledge – WHY a given student is not understanding a point in the lecture, while the lecture is in process. That interaction causes a probing of thinking not only in the mind of the questioning student, but also within the minds of the other students listening to the lecture and to the teacher/student exchange. I was praised in my evaluations for engaging students during my live lectures in that manner, so I have practiced, firsthand, what I now recommend to others.

teacher

July 12th, 2012
4:23 pm

Mr. Gates did not even pursue education past high school and he is now making policy with regards to teachers who have dedicated their lives to teaching???

reality check

July 12th, 2012
4:26 pm

My question is where in the real world to we cater to every person’s educational strenghts and weaknesses. When I shop at the local Target or TJ Maxx, there are people struggling to make change when they botch the transaction by computer. Do they pull these people off the floor and have them dust since they are better there than dealing with money? NO
But, teacher are expected to come up with these beautifully tailored lessons where everyone is happy and everyone is learning. That is not the real world and you are not going to achieve that is public education.

Student Advocate

July 12th, 2012
4:27 pm

Bring on the video cameras! Great idea. Many schools have them in the hallways and outside the schools already.

Hillbilly D

July 12th, 2012
4:38 pm

When I shop at the local Target or TJ Maxx, there are people struggling to make change when they botch the transaction by computer.

That’s why I think we need to concentrate on the 3 Rs. Over the years, I’ve had quite a few 18-19 year olds who worked for me. They weren’t stupid, far from it, but they had no idea how to do anything. Some of them were quick learners but they all had to be taught ever single thing. That was entirely the fault of the schools as most of them had never had to do anything at home. Should you really have to show somebody that age how to mop a floor, etc?

Hillbilly D

July 12th, 2012
4:39 pm

That should say wasn’t the fault of the schools