Last week I shared John Hattie’s recently updated list of the most profound influencers of student achievement. (Here is a link to that list if you want to see it again: Visible LearningPlus 250+ Influencers of Student Achievement) I went on to share how two of the more impactful influencers in student achievement come down to belief. (You can check out my post from last week if you missed it here…Belief) Hattie identifies “Collective teacher efficacy” and “Teacher estimates of achievement” as two of the highest influencers.
I want to take some time this week to dive a little deeper into “Collective teacher efficacy.” Here is how Hattie defines it:
- Collective teacher efficacy: The collective belief of teachers in their ability to positively affect students.
I think there are a couple of very important things to point out in this definition. First, it is a COLLECTIVE belief, and second, it is about our ABILITY to positively affect students.
So, first, let’s think about what it means to have a COLLECTIVE belief. Collective means that there is a group of individuals that have a core belief that an impact can ultimately be made. It means that it is just not good enough for someone to live inside the four walls of their classroom. Teachers cannot just believe in the students in their classrooms and only worry about the impact of student achievement of those students. There must be a collective belief from the entire staff that we all have the ability to impact students and student achievement. This refers to us ALL, not any of us INDIVIDUALLY. It is not enough to treat students a certain way in one classroom and differently in another. If the belief is not universal, it is not impactful. COLLECTIVE means an individual cannot be silent if colleagues give the impression that they do not believe in our students. COLLECTIVE means if our behaviors as a group do not align with what we say we believe, then we will never have the influence we say we want on student achievement. We must believe and act in unison to take on what is going to happen over the course of the long run, or we are destined to live in isolation on a treadmill…running by ourselves and going nowhere. We are in this, living the belief together.
The second part of this statement that stands out to me is about ABILITY. Belief is faith, belief often aligns behaviors, but belief does not build skill. ABILITY is defined as skill or proficiency in a particular area. As an education system, our understanding of how students learn, and how external influences change our abilities cannot be finite. Strategies that “worked” 10 years ago, may not be as effective today…in all honesty, they may have not been that impactful 10 years ago either. Skill is built through deliberate practice in a specific environment. Let’s be honest, the environment of education has changed, yet the system tries to stay the same. If we want the ABILITY to affect student achievement, we must be fluent, not finite. We must accept that no matter how much we want the environment of education to remain the same, it will not. When the environment changes, we must change also. We must grow our ABILITY every day. It does not matter the excuse, the reason, or the cause; we must get better each and every day.
Putting this together, COLLECTIVE TEACHER EFFICACY means that our behaviors as a group align to what we believe about students. Then we are charged to never be satisfied with how we preform, and build the skills we need to make those beliefs come to fruition. Belief is the starting point, building skill is what will make that belief sustainable and effective.
Until next time…keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!