Along with the change of seasons from winter to spring comes the anticipation of new growth—it may be seen in the budding of leaves or blooming of early flowers. But for many educators, when the calendar pages arrive at spring, it signals a different type of anticipation. Instead of “Ahh, spring!” the reaction is “Agghh! Spring!” The final stretch of the race is here, what some educators call “crunch time.” We might hear worried statements such as “We still have so much to teach before the end of the year”, “My kids aren’t ready for testing”, or “I can’t get everything done.” In our “busy-ness” and haste, we might not notice the many forms of new growth taking place right before us. Maybe we aren’t taking the time to “smell the roses.”
Why is it important to pause and look at the fruits of our labor? The reality is that teaching is hard work. But when teams examine meaningful feedback and see the impact of that work on their students’ learning, it builds momentum. John Hattie (2015) recently amended the practices highlighted in Visible Learning (2012), a meta-analysis of over 800 studies examining the effectiveness of practices in schools and classrooms. A notable addition to his ranking of effective practices is collective teacher efficacy, which he defines as the ability of teachers working together to produce a desired or intended result. According to Hattie’s analysis, collective teacher efficacy ranks as the second highest factor influencing student achievement with an effect size of 1.57 (far exceeding the .40 effect size considered to be effective). In other words, when teacher teams realize the powerful connection between their instructional and assessment practices and the outcome of their students’ learning based on assessment evidence—that new growth, their sense of effectiveness, and the ultimate impact on student learning is significantly increased.
Do we pause just a moment to relish the feeling of efficacy—the knowledge that our hard work has paid off? Here are some guiding questions that both educators and students can consider to make sure they recognize and celebrate their collective efficacy:
At the school level (During schoolwide conversations):
How have teams grown in their use of effective assessment practices so that their students learn more?
What can we celebrate in our students’ growth so far based on our evidence?
At the team level (Reflecting during collaborative time):
How have we enhanced our students’ learning through our collaboration?
On what essential learning targets have our students grown as a result of our team’s focus?
At the classroom level (Individual teacher reflection):
How has the use of formative assessment practices impacted the learning of my students?
What specific instructional strategies strengthened the learning of my students?
At the student level (Student reflection):
How have I improved in my learning?
What strategies did I use to make this happen?
How can I build upon those strengths?
Pausing to acknowledge the impact of our hard work doesn’t mean we stop moving forward. In fact, there’s evidence that making sure we “smell the roses” might actually help to energize our efforts and build that much needed momentum that will propel us through that end of year “crunch time!”
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. London: Routledge.
Hattie, J. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, Vol 1(1), Mar 2015, 79-91.
Hattie, John. Hattie Ranking: 195 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement. Accessed at https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/ March 1, 2017.