What’s the deal with Learning Targets?

“They (Learning Targets) clarify for students what students are learning—what they should know and be able to do—in language students can understand. They enable students to monitor and assume major responsibility for their own learning, a practice associated with a 32 percentile point gain in student achievement (Marzano, 2010).“

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Collective Teacher Efficacy

Collective teacher efficacy continues to be either number one or two in terms of impact size on student performance, according to John Hattie.

If you’re looking for a great read, check this out.  Collective Efficacy: How Educators’ Beliefs Impact Student Learning by Jenni Anne Marie Donohoo.  Might also be a great book for a staff book study.  Or a summer read.  The cool thing about teacher efficacy is that it’s not about any specific program.  It’s simply a strong and pervasive belief that working as a team, teachers can do great things with kids.  

Obviously Hattie continues to rank all kinds of stuff.  If I remember correctly, anything with a .40 effect size and above is considered impactful.  Collective teacher efficacy has an effect size of 1.57. Student mental health, specifically depression, continues to be dead bang last, with an actual negative effect size of -.42.  By the way, RTI is considered a ‘Super Factor’, just like Collective Teacher Efficacy.  It has an effect size of 1.07. And we have good RTI work going on all over the place.  Coupling that with collective teacher efficacy, for example, can really have a powerful and positive effect on kids.

“When a school staff shares the belief that through their collective actions they can positively influence student outcomes, student achievement increases. Collective teacher efficacy deserves the attention of every educator because it was recently ranked as the number one factor influencing student achievement (Hattie, 2016). Educators with high efficacy show greater effort and persistence, a willingness to try new teaching approaches, and attend more closely to the needs of students who are not progressing well. They also convey high expectations, foster learner autonomy, and welcome increased parental involvement. In addition, educators who share a sense of collective efficacy get students to believe they can excel in school.”

“Collective teacher efficacy (d = 1.57). This is a factor that can be manipulated at a whole school level. It involves helping all teachers on the staff to understand that the way they go about their work has a significant impact on student results – for better or worse. Simultaneously, it involves stopping them from using other factors (e.g. home life, socio-economic status, motivation) as an excuse for poor progress. Yes, these factors hinder learning, but a great teacher will always try to make a difference despite this, and they often succeed.”

I suppose one good question to ask ourselves as leaders is, “Do the educators at our place believe that our collective actions can positively influence student outcomes and increase student achievement?”

Heroism of the incremental.

Following up a bit on the last blog post.  One of the learners by whom I am most challenged is George Couros.  Today he sent out a blog post called 5 Arguments Against “Innovation in Education” and How You Might Respond. It’s excellent.  One of the arguments he addresses is the one I hear a lot.  The issue of time.  He discusses prioritization and taking a hard look at what one does with one’s time.  This got me thinking.  Here’s my response to this blog post.

“A suggestion to address the issue of time. I think the theory is just like getting physical exercise. If I want to be in better physical shape, I prioritize the time. I get up earlier, I hit the treadmill right after work, I walk around more, I stand up more. Same drill for professional learning. If I were to return to a building as a principal, I would arrive a half hour earlier each day. Close my door. Ignore email. I would read, think, and write. Especially write. A half hour a day would create 2.5 hours a week. 10 hours a month in self-directed professional learning. Over the course of a school year, 80-90 hours of professional learning. I read a great quote yesterday, “We have the chance to transform the course of our lives. Doing so will mean discovering the heroism of the incremental.” –Atul Gawande. Incremental professional transformation and growth. Works for me!”

I can’t get that line, ‘heroism of the incremental’, out of my head.  It reminds me of what my late friend, John McCrossin, always said, “Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch.”  I believe both of these ideas are absolutely correct.  We just have to make what we want to have happen a priority.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  It’s what we do with them that makes all the difference.  Inch by inch.