So you can’t run?

With thanks to Andy Falconer for highlighting this Washington Post Article by Bill Gates on measuring Teacher Performance. It points to
this video of Tom Brady, 3 time Super Bowl winning Quarterback for the New England Patriots, being assessed for the 2000 NFL draft. The video shows Mr Brady going through drills to highlight foot speed and agility. Clearly this is an area that is not a strength yet how necessary is Tom Brady’s foot speed to claim those Super Bowl rings, MVP awards and many other plaudits? Not really, is the answer.

Bill Gate’s point is that teachers should not be measured or indeed held to account over a narrow range of parameters. There is a great deal more to high performance teaching and delivering high quality learning experiences than just subject knowledge, the ability to get pupils through assessments or being au fait with the latest initiatives, gadgets, software or whim of your Head!

It gives us something to think about as school leaders. The best teachers do not always please everybody. Someone who can appear effective may be adept at impressing parents or governors but may lack key competencies that flatlines pupil progress. Others, managing to rub everyone up the wrong way and give Heads grey hairs, have an intuitive knowledge of children, masterful classroom management and drive up standards through high expectations and excellent rapport with pupils.

The process of learning is complex. Teaching equally so. The measurement of performance is therefore little short of impossible in terms of fairness if reliant on the outcome of pupil assessment tests. Children’s rates of cognitive and emotional development vary and absolute measures are an incomplete picture of what has occurred within the classroom.

What is needed is a more rich and nuanced approach to understanding the effectiveness of teachers. As Bill Gates says:

The fact is, teachers want to be accountable to their students. What the country needs are thoughtfully developed teacher evaluation systems that include multiple measures of performance, such as student surveys, classroom observations by experienced colleagues and student test results.

As school leaders, as Heads, we need to recognise that central to our role is gathering such information and acting as a facilitator for the professional development and aspirations of the educators that work in our schools. We can guide and direct the ‘flight path’ of school development and by doing so ensure that the children in our care are being given the very best chance to grow as people socially, emotionally and academically.

Oh yes, and Tom Brady is married to Giselle Bündchen too.

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