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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Appreciating Teachers: The Teacher Advisory Council

May 05, 2014

The College Ready team at the foundation works to ensure students graduate from high school ready to succeed in a postsecondary program that prepares them to support themselves, engage in their communities, and achieve their dreams.  Central to accomplishing this goal is to ensure that all students have access to effective teaching in every classroom, every day.  We know this goal is ambitious, and we know that engaging highly effective teachers to guide our efforts is critical to its success. 

For this reason, two years ago the foundation developed the Teacher Advisory Council, or TAC, as we refer to this group of 50 highly talented individuals. TAC teachers from across the U.S. committed to a two-year term, during which they come together on a regular basis to support the development and review of our strategies, share their insights on how to translate that vision into implementation in schools and districts, and provide feedback and perspective as they lead this work in the field. 

This coming June will conclude the first term of TAC participants, and I am so proud of the work they’ve accomplished.  The input that TAC has provided to the foundation over the past two years has been instrumental in the design and implementation of the College Ready strategy and has helped us sharpen efforts to increase students’ college and career readiness.  Nobody knows teaching like teachers! 

Specifically, TAC has advised and weighed in on important complexities of the teaching profession such as teacher evaluation and feedback systems, professional development, the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, the supports and tools teachers want and need, and technology-based enhancements to learning.  TAC teachers have provided guidance on future strategies and how to translate big-picture investments into successful implementation in their classrooms, schools, and districts.  They have been thoughtful, intentional, candid, and humbling. 

These teachers have a sustained determination to find best practices, collaborate with each other, advocate for each other’s innovative work, and lead locally, regionally, and nationally.  They have an unwavering personal commitment to kids and to their profession; to increase college and career readiness among all students.

Anne Keith, a middle school teacher who’s been in the classroom 21 years, was a member of this first TAC cohort.  Describing her experience with the foundation, she states, “They are listening to teachers and they’re willing to reexamine what they do and make it better.” That’s not unlike the advice she gives to teachers who come to her for help: “Listen to each other, see each other as resources. Be open to rethinking what you’re doing, always with students in mind.”

Not just today or this week, but every day I am truly appreciative of the incredible work that all teachers do and the dedication they have to our nation’s kids. Teachers are the single most important factor on student learning inside the classroom but they shouldn’t have to do it alone; there’s more power in us working together.   

Working with TAC has been invaluable, and the foundation remains committed to hearing from teachers on an ongoing basis.  The next cohort of Teaching Advisory Council has been selected, and will convene in July alongside the exiting council to begin their two-year term.  The new members were selected through a process that includes recommendations from current TAC members, school leaders, peers, and foundation partners, and applicant interviews. 

It has been a great pleasure working with the Teacher Advisory Council over the past two years, and I’m truly appreciative for their contributions not only to the TAC, but to students across this country each and every day.  I look forward to working with the next cohort.

 
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