Friday, January 4, 2013

TEACHERS: Know Thy Impact!

At a recent session for our district's first and second year teachers, I showed a a short video of John Hattie talking to teachers about the impact they have on student success.  Clicking on the picture will open a new window and play the 1:36 video.

What I like about that short video is the powerful way Hattie communicates the message that teachers have a POWERFUL impact on both individual and collective student achievement.  Too often it is easy to get caught up in the fast pace of school, and the planning-instruction cycle, and focus on our inputs instead of the output.  The results of the daily work we do as teachers should be considered formative, and provide information so we can make different choices about what we do as teachers in order to achieve different results.

I think it is critically important to keep up with the work we are doing to change our system and our practices so we can embed the time and use it to consider our impact as teachers.  As teachers we must continually consider the output, i.e. individual student learning, and structure our daily work to ensure we intentionally make changes as needed to respond to student needs.

In the book Classroom Instruction that Works, the authors Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering and Jane Pollock identified 9 broad teaching strategies that are proven to positively impact teaching.  We reference these strategies for teachers in our district when we talk about quality instruction and making choices that are most likely to positively impact student learning.  In his book Visible Learning, referenced in more detail HERE on this blog, Hattie shared that "...just about everything works."  Most strategies will yield a positive impact on student achievement.  With limited resources (time and money) it is essential teachers choose those strategies that will have the most impact on student learning.  These are commonly referred to as 'high yield strategies'.  The point I always stress with teachers is that Marzano's strategies, and those outlined in Hattie's book, are a great place to start when considering effective teaching strategies.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of watching MANY outstanding teachers change students' lives, both academically and in other ways.  Those teachers used a variety of different styles/strategies/approaches, but regardless of the input, the output was the same.  In spite of using different strategies to achieve their goals, the teachers I can think of had many things in common though, chief among them the focus on changing what they did to meet the students' needs. 

As I reflect on the work we are engaged in and our potential for continuous improvement, I am very excited.  We have outstanding teachers and administrators in our schools.  We have outstanding beginning teachers apply for new positions.  The future looks quite bright, in my humble opinion, and I look forward in my new role to be able to work together with teachers and administrators in our district to make us even more effective at impacting student achievement. 

As we move forward, let's be mindful of what works, and strive to make choices about our behavior that will result in our being able to benefit from the efficiencies and synergy of an integrated system.

Research, data collection and use, and mindful/intentional reflection on practice are valuable tools in our arsenal for improving student achievement.  Keeping knowledge of our impact as teachers and administrators provides a strong foundation upon which we can be intentional about what we do!

Happy New Year!

May all your goals, personal and professional, be realized for yourself and your students in 2013.



Music At Ancaster Meadow School said...

What a great post! I've heard about high yield strategies for years and use them regularly, and it's good to hear that they do have such a huge impact. I've definitely noticed so in the classroom as well.

There's no question in my mind that teachers have a huge impact on student success, but how can we separate teacher impact from parent impact? I think that when teachers and parents can work together, the results are even more meaningful. What do you think?


Alexander (Sandy) McDonald said...

Thanks very much for your comment Aviva.

The point I was attempting to reinforce for our beginning teachers is that we need to be intentional. As teachers we have a great deal of autonomy, and there is a lot that works. It is our responsibility to choose those proven strategies that best align with our skillsets and the needs of our students.

I agree completely that the MOST effective impact on student learning comes from partnering with parents. Instead of just focusing on student engagement, I think we need to consciously focus on engaging parents as well. Rather than telling parents what we do in class, perhaps as teachers we might be more effective asking parents to come in and see what we are doing, or sharing in other ways than a simple note home?

Interesting times we are in.....I love it!