I have been working closely with two K-12 school district customers that are in contention for a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The category? Improving teacher performance. In a nutshell, it’s about working with some progressive, large school districts to implement new programs for recruiting, retaining and rewarding teachers. The grant money will be used to fund the creation and operation of the programs for a few years. The objectives are to materially improve teacher performance and make (hopefully) breakthrough discoveries that can be replicated nationally.
The genesis of some of these ideas are traced back to a speech Bill Gates made last November. You can see a transcript of it here. Bottom line: these organizations will have an exceptional opportunity to rethink the way a critical talent pool (teachers) is deployed in the organization. There are a myriad of challenges here, one of which hits at the heart of what I care about — the infrastructure to manage, administer and analyze the programs. The grant proposal is very clear — districts receiving this funding must demonstrate how they will protect the sustainability of these programs after the grant funding runs out. That’s where integrated talent management technology comes in. If you are going to rethink the way you pay teachers for measurable performance outcomes (like student test scores), drive behavioral change in alignment with what exceptional teachers demonstrate and more flexibly deploy great teachers to the schools that most need them, spreadsheets just won’t cut it.
As always, these initiatives are about people, process and technology. And if I have my way, a few of us will get a special opportunity to show how enabling technology in talent management can really have an impact on something that truly matters: the education of our children. As a software guy, those days are few and far between — so I look forward to embracing this one with gusto. Stay tuned.