A re-look at BILL GATES powerful 2009 discussion on WHAT MAKES A TEACHER GREAT


(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1EoRH8h)

I stumbled upon this amazing speech Bill Gates gave in 2009 about teachers in the US, and though I am not American, it was very interesting because all the points he made were true about the rest of the world too.

Here are a few points he made:

  1. Teachers reach their peak performance after 3 years of teaching, after that they stay the same.
  2. The teachers who leave teaching tend to be the slightly better teachers than the ones who stay.
  3. Teachers will only increase their salary if they
    1. Take on a position of responsibility
    2. Get a Master’s degree
      1. However a Master’s degree has shown that the difference in teaching ability before a MA compared to after an MA is negligible

So why are teachers not performing?

  • They are seldom told that they are good
  • They don’t have the tools to improve
  • Teachers are feeling demotivated because of varying acceptable standards
  • Heads of schools feel powerless to get rid of non committed staff

These points are all true actually. But I do believe it all comes down to the school and expectations of the administration. A school must be able to assess all staff and if they are not reaching the desired level, they need to be trained, retrained if necessary and if they cannot life up to the expectation, they have to be dismissed. This last part is the most difficult to do in the state system because  it is very difficult to lose a ‘government job’…as the State of Illinois found out a few years ago. The only person who go dismissed was the head of education!

I think it is time that the governments of all countries learn to trust the leaders of the schools to make the decisions that need to be made. I do believe that the other teachers in a school who are really competent do resent the fact that there are very weak teachers in their school who can’t be gotten rid of. They are usually the teachers who have to absorb the slack by teaching the other students privately so that they will pass the exam.

When business is private however it is a whole other matter. The teachers know from the start that this is up to them, if they can’t perform they won’t be able to stay…business is business after all.

So going back to Bill Gates first three points. How do we overcome this problem? The answer I believe is going to correct itself in the form of the fast changing world in front of us. Simply speaking if a teacher cannot keep up with the educational advancements happening through technology or simply the new style of teaching expected, they need to leave or be retrained.

I often compare it all to getting a new mobile phone. I get a new smart phone about every 3 years and that pretty much brings me up to date with where I need to be at technologically …and of course as technology gets so integrated into our work life, it parallels this as well. If you can’t navigate your way through your smart phone and equate that to your job…time to change jobs…

What’s your opinion?


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