Joe Nocera’s column in yesterday’s New York Times caught my attention. He focused in on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s effective teaching initiative. Led by TSC Signatory Tom Kane, this initiative works with four school districts across the country to test different measures of effective teaching.
Though I was aware of the Gates’ work in the area, I read the column a couple times because it reminded me once again just how hard this work is. The Gates Foundation is committed to finding an effective and fair method to evaluate teacher quality that educators in district schools will want to adopt. To do this, they are using a scorecard approach that includes test scores, student evaluations, and peer evaluations.
My question is, though, what happens next? Once teachers have their evaluation, how do we give them the time to improve? We have found that teachers across the country say that they do not have enough time to teach the curriculum or collaborate with their colleagues. And that’s where expanded learning time can be an important part of the puzzle. With additional time, we can be sure that teachers have the time they need for feedback, collaboration and planning. I am worried that if we simply give teachers feedback without time to thoughtfully adjust their practice and work with their colleagues, real change won’t take hold.