Teachers do not need fixing

Poipoia te kakano kia puawai:

Nurture the seed and it will blossom.

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Our #NPSFab Team in our new meeting room.

Teachers do not need fixing and our students will achieve just by breathing. There is not much we as teacher can do to learners that harm them.

Hattie States: “All you need to enhance achievement is a pulse.”

 

I stumbled on and rewatched John Hattie’s Ted Talk from 2013. ‘Why are so many teachers and schools successful?

As I watched the clip I noticed all the questions John asked which is currently relevant in my situation of leading the Mathematics Initiative in our Auckland Central Community of Schools (ACCoS) Kāhui Ako. Mind you all that Hattie talks about is relevant for all teaching and learning. Below are some of the questions that resonated with me.

Hattie asks

  • So what is impact?
  • How do we know our impact?
  • How do we build the expertise around us?
  • How do we build the coalition of the willing and of the successful to have a major say in our schools?
  • How do we get a ladder of excellence in our business of teaching?
  • How do we get away from the common notion that all teachers are equal?
  • How do we demonstrate the impact we are having on our students?
  • How do we give back to our teaching profession?
  • How do we get our teachers involved in helping each other up the ladder of excellence?

Some of the statements I regularly use with our teachers include:

  • How do you know that your students are achieving?
  • Have you scrutinised their data? Can I see their extrapolated data from our student management system?
  • If you are not prepared to be a learner then why are you still teaching?
  • If I cannot see what you do then it does not exist.
  • How are you sharing your learning with your colleagues?

Hattie has been extremely visible in my recent learning. I have just completed my Hapara Champion Scholar certification and I was delighted to find out that the system designers had created a Student Learning System based around the research of Hattie about what works in education with the greatest impact. This is particularly noticeable in the tool Hapara workspace.

Then I shared at one of our Cluster Schools about using SOLO Taxonomy which Hattie has stated is a sound learning structure because SOLO highlights the gaps in learning.

On Thursday I pressed submit for our Ulearn 2018 abstract. This abstract involves the work we have been carrying out in our three schools with a focus on the learning strategies that have the greatest impact.

Yesterday I took three of my colleagues to Mindlab to share their learning around gaining their Digital Passports in preparation for the Digital Technologies Curriculum that will be taught in schools by 2020.

Then to stumble on Hatties Ted Talk allows me a chance to reflect on my current situation. I continually struggle at his class size data and have often wondered about some of my class sizes. For example as a young teacher one of my first classes had 38 children. I recently uncovered information about my current school where teachers at the beginning of this century had class sizes of just over one hundred students. I am reminded of my own class in Samoa when I was in standard 2 (Year 4) where my teacher had 48 of us in class.

Below  are some of the effect sizes that Hattie highlighted in his 2013 video. This is not all of them but I wanted to highlight the ones that caught my eye. Currently these are the ones that we discuss regularly at our school and within our Kāhui Ako. However Hattie points out that these do not have enough of an effect size to make an impact on teaching and learning.  Remember that .40 is a years effect so anything below that number makes very little difference.

Structural effects

  • Class size .21
  • Ability groupings 0.12
  • Cultural diversity .05 effect

Attributes of the students

  • Diversity of students in the class .11

Deep programmes

  • Inquiry Based Learning .31
  • Problem based learning .15

Technology in Education

  • Computers and mathematics .30
  • Web based learning .18

Basically the distractions we put out there as teachers that affect learning are a big no and have little effect on what we do.

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Interestingly as a Kāhui Ako initiative we have recently created a student survey that focuses on student attitude to maths and their learning in maths. We had high numbers that stated they love learning online with a device and loved learning with their friends. One clear high number showed us that students loved their teachers telling them that they are doing well in maths and that they loved their teachers playing maths games with them. They also love being tested by their teachers. I am still evaluating the data with our In School Leaders.

So Hattie states that the greatest variance that has the greatest impact on student achievement is teachers who work together collectively who evaluate and understand their impact.

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The teacher’s job is to understand their impact. He talked about expert teachers and reinforced that  teacher expertise is not highly correlated with years of experience.

What is Teacher Impact?

Teacher impact is the importance of knowing where each student is in order to challenge them. With the ongoing debate around National Standards, just be cautious about chucking out all assessments. Because National Standards has a lot to do with assessment. Yet it is really important to know where the students are at with their learning and the only way of doing this is with assessments and understanding our curriculum levels and what this looks like for our students. Personally I know assessments are challenging to complete and have up to date. But if I do not know where my learners are at, then how can I help them? Yes I can provide lots of creative learning experiences yet I must keep my eye on the prize. Keep developing the love of learning and keep moving my learners forward.

Reinvesting in learning for our students.

The starting point is for us to understanding very clearly what the students know already and we do this via assessment or by asking our students about their prior achievement either through a portfolio of learning or what their last score was.Then we need to know what success looks like and we do this via the learning progression framework. We show our learners up front what success looks like and the more we can show what success looks like the more engaged our learners are and the more they love learning.  We can use SOLO Taxonomy to support us in framing what success looks like because SOLO helps us structure feedback and identify next steps information. We provide multiple opportunities for ‘just right’ learning using deliberate feedback to reduce the gap of where they are to where they want to be by using the Goldilock principle of not to hard and not too soft, but just right. Therefore our students are continually targeting or goal setting as they move forwards.

Outcome is increasing the success.

So often the learner does not know what success looks like in the series of lessons of lessons we plan for. So often the learner does not know what the goal of the lesson is. Remember the olden days of stating the learning intention and sharing the success criteria? I often thought that this was more for the teachers than for the students and it was. However we must not lose sight of its relevance. If you don’t know what the goal and outcomes for the lessons are then how the heck will your students?

In my school where we have a sense of urgency for our second language learners aiming to catch a moving target. I believe it is even more important to know where my learners currently are and to identify the target cohort they are catching.

If you are new to all this then my advice to you is you will have some failures. But fail well, reflect and use this information to move forward. As schools we must create a climate of trust that it is OK to make mistakes and errors as professional. However we must provide feedback to our teachers about their impact. Again the best way of gauging our impact is via data. The point of gathering assessment data is for teachers to understand their impact.

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A second language learners reading data over a year.

If we keep failing in shifting our learners forward then we are failing our learners and their families who have placed their utmost trust in us as professionals. At my school this is even more important because of the sense of urgency for our learners. I continually look at data and I love data that stands straight up heading to where it should be. Data that stands like a line is accelerated learning. I especially pay attention to historic data because I know that data gathered over one year is not clear enough to predict learning outcomes.

SOLO Taxonomy

SOLO Taxonomy helps us understand that the students must know the surface details before the shift happens to making connections within their learning to authentic everyday situations. Those of us who love SOLO remember those students who state, “I believe I am good at maths because my teacher says so.” My response is “What is Maths? Show me the strategies you know to tell me that you are good at Maths? Can you show me your result from……..? How have you taught a friend this strategy?”

We must teach our students the effective learning strategies so that they can deliberately practice with us and coaching to reduce the gap from where they are to where they want to be. That is how using SOLO helps us. If you read Pam Hooks site of how to teach with SOLO Taxonomy you will see these three simple statements.

  • What am I learning?
  • How is it going?
  • What am I doing next?

Sharing learning as professionals

Our third code of professional responsibility is to the teaching profession. So how do we encourage our expert teachers who understand their impact to give back to their profession? How do we structure this into their learning and get them involved in helping others up that ladder?

For us involved in the ACCoS Kāhui Ako Mathematics initiative I have encouraged our In School Leaders to join me in sharing their impact at Ulearn 2018. By involving them in the process of sharing in such a public way I believe they will help others within their school share their learning. I also encourage our Across School Leaders to continue their sharing via our ACCoS blog.  

For our In School Leaders at Newmarket School we have created a Hapara Workspace to curate and share our learning from our professional learning groups with a focus on maths. This is visible to everyone and you can check it out here. http://j.mp/2FyK0xU.

Teacher Impact

Overall teacher impact begins with data to show where the learner is at. Then we use the Learning Progression Framework to identify where they need to be and we use SOLO Taxonomy to show how they can get there. Next we use just right goal setting and just in time feedback to propel them towards where they want to be. After that we have our students talk about the process of learning. Finally as educators we share our own journey with our colleagues and include our mistakes and our achievements and our own next steps as educators. We encourage our colleagues to do the same.   

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