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When teachers let district leaders know that they are not receiving feedback from their principal concerning areas to improve their performance, the next step for district leaders and principals is two-fold:

(a) to develop the skills to communicate feedback, and coach and support teachers to become great; and

(b) to introduce teachers to practical and research-based resources for the purpose of helping them become highly effective and engage students to achieve and learn.

Yesterday’s post focused on Part A of the solution – the tactics that school leaders must implement in order to retain, coach, and support effective teaching in their schools (view blog post here). Today’s post discusses Part B of the solution via Gates’s use of the world’s best academic performer in reading, mathematics, and science – the Province of Shanghai, China. Shanghai’s system helps its teachers keep improving by (Gates):

1. Early career teachers observe master teachers at work

2. Teachers have weekly study groups where they get together and talk about what’s working

3. Teachers are required to observe and provide feedback to their colleagues

The National Center on Education and the Economy’s Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB) provides research on the world’s high performing education systems (website); in its discussion of Shanghai, China, CIEB includes (website):

… Teachers are constantly working to improve their practice. Informally, teachers often observe one another’s lessons in order either to learn from a more experienced or more effective teacher, or to serve in a mentorship capacity for a new or struggling teacher. Teachers also often meet in regularly scheduled groups based on subject and level in order to discuss best practices, share advice, and create common lesson plans for the upcoming week. Teachers spend hours both together and on their own preparing a 45-minute lesson. Occasionally, teachers will give demonstration lessons; these serve either as a means of imparting best practice to other teachers or as a means of feedback and critique to the teacher giving the lesson.

Shanghai schools require teachers to undergo continuous professional development throughout their careers. Teachers are required to spend 360 hours on professional development over each five-year period of their career. In 2008, to facilitate teacher development and collaboration, a web platform was established so teachers may access and share curriculum ideas, research papers and various other resources.

The importance of a system like the one described above? Gates says (TED Talk):

It’s because there’s so much variation in the teaching profession. Some teachers are far more effective than others. In fact, there are teachers throughout the country who are helping their students make extraordinary gains. If today’s average teacher could become as good as those teachers our students would be blowing away the rest of the world [academically]. So, we need a system that helps all our teachers be as good as the best.

In the iTeacherSuite online community individual teachers and teacher learning teams plan and execute their lessons to engage students to learn and achieve. The instructional strategies teachers use align to evidence-based research practices and to Charlotte Danielson’s and Robert Marzano’s teacher evaluation frameworks. Listen to Dr. Janet Pilcher discuss the alignment of the Five ALWAYS Teaching Actions to research:



Teachers learn about, collaborate, model/implement, reflect on, and perfect these instructional strategies in the online community in the following ways:

iTS Applications

Why engage in a teacher learning team to study instruction? This is how the leader in academic performance does it. This creates the opportunity for everyone to have a coach and receive “real feedback” (see Gates). The goal is to help teachers achieve their highest potential in the classroom so that they can engage students to reach their highest potential.





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.

Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB).  Shanghai-China Instructional Systems. Accessed from CIEB’s website.

Pilcher, Janet K. (2012). Who’s Engaged? Climb the Learning Ladder to See. Video from iTeacherSuite online learning community’s Who’s Engaged Sandbox.

iTeacherSuite introduces teachers to practical and research-based tools, resources, and online learning communities for the purpose of helping teachers become highly effective and engaging students to learn and achieve. Check out our Facebook page to connect with teachers and to share teaching strategies (https://www.facebook.com/iTeacherSuite) and our website at http://iTeacherSuite.com for free resources.

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.