I've written at length about the importance of feedback in our work and how that alleviates burnout. Bill Gates' latest TED talk (that anyone interested in education should absolutely watch) highlights the same conclusions I've found on how feedback can yield better results as it relates to perhaps to one of the most important occupations in society: teachers.
There's nothing unfamiliar about the Gates' overview of our education system as it compares to performance in other countries. Our results are abysmally low. We're tied for 15th (with Iceland and Poland) for reading, 23rd in science, and 31st in math. What are other countries doing in their systems to improve? According to Gates, eleven out of the top 14 countries whose students perform well academically have a formal system for helping teachers improve.
Let's look at the best academic performer: the province of Shanghai, China. Now, they rank number one across the board,in reading, math and science, and one of the keys to Shanghai's incredible success is the way they help teachers keep improving. They made sure that younger teachersget a chance to watch master teachers at work. They have weekly study groups,where teachers get together and talk about what's working. They even require each teacher to observeand give feedback to their colleagues.
And here's the big number. Creating a system that provides up to date feedback would cost the US $5 Billion annually. This equals less than two percent of what we spend on teacher salaries today.