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“Unfortunately, there’s one group of people who almost get no systematic feedback to help them do their jobs better and these people have one of the most important jobs in the world. I’m talking about teachers” Bill Gates (TED Talk featured below).


Gates goes on to say, “Our teachers deserve better.” We agree. In How to Lead Teachers to Become Great, Pilcher and Largue highlight the need for feedback and coaching using an example similar to Gates (p. 25):

… When evaluation time arrives, a typical school leader goes into a teacher’s classroom for a relatively short amount of time, assesses the teacher, usually giving high marks on the evaluation, and sends the evaluation to the teacher to review and sign.

School district employees tell us what Gates, Pilcher and Largue describe; that is, teachers and staff rank lowest the following item on a 15-item Employee Engagement Survey (N > 39,750):

My principal/administrative team/supervisor provides feedback concerning areas for improving my performance.

The item’s overall mean is 3.91 on a 5-point Likert Scale.

Nearly one-third of the more than 39,750 respondents marked the item “Neutral,” “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree.”

It is important to remember, however, that “diagnosing the areas where teachers have to improve is only half the battle” (Gates). So, when teachers let district leaders know that they are not receiving feedback from their supervisor/principal concerning areas to improve their teaching performance, what’s the next step for district leaders?

Share your thoughts with the What’s Right in Education readers. We will do the same over the course of this five-part series focusing on leaders’ role in creating the conditions that foster and nourish schools full of great teachers.




Gates, Bill. (May 2013). Teachers need real feedback. Posted as an Education TED Talk and available at http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates_teachers_need_real_feedback.html.

Pilcher, Janet, and Largue, Robin. (2009). How to Lead Teachers to Become Great. Gulf Breeze, FL: Fire Starter Publishing. Read the Introduction and Chapter 1.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the fifth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.