Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Preparing Teachers for Excellence

November 18, 2015

Who was your favorite teacher?  Why? 

Your favorite teacher may not have been your favorite because he or she was soft or kind. There was likely more to it than that. There might have been an edge to her. She might have made you uncomfortable. She might have said: “You can do this” when you said: “No, I can’t.” She believed in you more than you believed in yourself. So she put some pressure on you. And she got your effort because she asked for it, and you met her demands because she won your trust. Because you realized, “She cares about me enough to push me”. And she pushed you into places you didn’t think you belonged. Great teachers don’t just teach you; they change you.

When you think about what made your teacher so good, you can’t explain it with just tools and techniques; it was also his or her judgment, creativity, and personality that pulled you in and helped create the whole bond you had with your teacher.

The heart of learning is this connection between teachers and students.  That is the centerpiece of school success:  a teacher forming a bond with a student, triggering the student’s hunger to learn, and guiding it in the right way.

When we see that the teacher-student bond is the heart of learning, we have our strategy – we make sure teachers have the goals and skills and tools they need to form that bond with their students and give it all the power they can.  Everything we do is designed to feed that bond.

How do we help teachers get started on a path to excellence? 

One way is to understand more about how to best prepare candidates to enter the teaching profession.  That’s why we’re so excited to work with the Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers over the next few years.  These teacher preparation organizations, selected through an RFP, will work alongside K-12 school systems to understand the key elements that help teachers enter the classroom ready to help our students be their best.  They will share knowledge, data, and best practices and develop, pilot, and scale practices that are most effective in preparing new teachers.  

The five Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers are: 

  • Teacher2, led by the Relay Graduate School of Education; 
  • National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR); 
  • University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (U.S.PREP) National Center, based at Texas Tech University; 
  • Elevate Preparation, Impact Children (EPIC), led by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and 
  • TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan. 

In addition to the Transformation Centers, the foundation is awarding a grant to the Teacher Preparation Inspectorate, US, which will provide feedback to the Transformation Centers and their member providers. 


While the Transformation Centers will be guided by a common set of indicators and outcomes, they will test different approaches in unique contexts to better understand which practices are most effective. 

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