Tell Me How I’m Doing

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Bill Gates begins his Ted Talk by discussing the lack of feedback our nation provides to teachers. The person every parent in our nation shares his or her child with is only given one word to determine his or her degree of success. This word is “satisfactory.” Who would want to be told that they are performing at a satisfactory level? What teacher would want their only form of feedback to be in the form of an eleven-letter word? As a future teacher, I can say with full confidence that getting the “satisfactory” level of teaching would not be a goal that I would want to strive for. Additionally, this method of feedback provides teachers with no constructive suggestions for future improvement. Obviously, no teacher is perfect, but if a teacher is already satisfactory, who is to say that the teacher will work on improvements within the next year?

In a critical time like this, when the United States is ranked 15th in the world for reading proficiency and 11 of the nations in front of the United States has a formal system of providing teachers with feedback, it is clear that our country needs to make a new plan on how we give teachers feedback. For these reasons, I support the model of feedback that Gates discussed in his Ted Talk.

“Measures of Effective Teaching” is a way that teachers can understand and see how well they are teaching through many different approaches. For example, students can fill out surveys that ask them questions about how their teacher taught and if their teacher made them think and ask good questions. This method provides the teacher with more concrete feedback and allows the teacher to see what exactly she or he needs to improve on.

I prefer this method as a means of feedback far more than scores from standardized tests. Aside from telling the teacher exactly what she or he needs to improve on, it also creates an environment that emphasizes learning and thinking, as opposed to finding a solution to a problem. The motivation behind a teacher’s teaching becomes more intrinsic, and therefore would improve a student’s success in the classroom.

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