Teachers Know Best

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The connection between teachers and students is at the heart of learning. Our work focuses on ensuring that all teachers have the goals, skills and tools to form and strengthen that powerful bond with their students. The first step in doing that is asking teachers what works and what they need to strengthen the teacher-student bond—and then trusting and listening to what they tell us.

The goal of Teachers Know Best is to bring the perspectives of teachers to developers who are creating digital tools for the classroom. Moving from anecdotes of what digital instructional tools teachers want and need to actual, solid data, will help us to better understand how teachers use digital technology in the classroom, and how these tools can be improved.

Recently, we released the findings from What Educators Want From Digital Instructional Tools 2.0, the latest report in our Teachers Know Best series. As teachers continue to provide ongoing feedback, the data on TeachersKnowBest.org will be updated to reflect what is working for teachers and what isn’t.

What Educators Want From Digital Instructional Tools (2.0)

This 2015 report renews our understanding about how teachers currently use digital instructional tools, teachers’ attitudes toward digital technology, and teachers’ perceived effectiveness of digital tools. 

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What Teachers Want From Digital Tools

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation surveyed more than 3,100 K-12 teachers in five areas, focusing on the use and effectiveness of digital tools. This infographic highlights what teachers told us they wanted from these products. 

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Making Data Work

We spoke with dozens of educators across a range of schools—from mainstream to technology-forward—and we conducted an online survey with a nationally representative sample of 4,600 public school teachers. This study explores four questions:

• What do teachers believe about data-driven instruction and the tools that support it?
• How do teachers use data to tailor instruction?
• What are key challenges with the tools that support data-driven instruction?
• What do teachers need to make data work to inform instruction in the classroom? 

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Making Data Work infographic

To help drive innovation, we asked more than 4,600 teachers about the digital tools they use to collect the student data that allows for more tailored instruction. This infographic highlights key considerations for educators and product developers alike. 

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What Educators Want From Digital Instructional Tools

In the original 2014 release of this report, we asked more than 3,100 educators what kinds of digital instructional tools are essential to help their students be prepared for college and careers in the 21st century.

In surveys and interviews, teachers told us that they are looking for resources that can help their students meet new, more rigorous standards, including the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards. They also are optimistic that digital instructional tools can be useful. But even as the instructional market is going increasingly digital and a huge array of products exists, gaps remain: Certain types of products that teachers said they need for specific instructional purposes are simply not available; in other cases, there are products available, but teachers aren’t using them or don’t perceive them to be effective. These market gaps present opportunities for product developers to create new digital instructional tools or improve existing ones to better meet the needs of teachers and students. 

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Teachers’ Views on Professional 

Quality professional development is an essential component of teaching, yet few teachers are satisfied with current offerings. To help identify needs and opportunities for improvement, we conducted a study with more than 1,300 stakeholders.

To gain insights into the roadblocks to implementing effective professional development, we reached out to more than 1,300 teachers, professional development leaders in district and state education agencies, principals, professional development providers, and thought leaders through surveys and interviews. What we heard from this broad range of stakeholders was consistent: The way in which schools and districts deliver professional learning is highly fragmented and characterized by key disconnects between what decision-makers intend and the professional learning teachers actually experience. 

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