Collective Teacher Efficacy

The power of connections is vital for collaboration. When a group of teachers come together to work together  magic happens. When they come together for their students, and learning is the focus, then we have collective teacher efficacy.

Teacher Efficacy

So what exactly does teacher efficacy mean? Hattie says it is the way you think about your role as a leader or a teacher that defines the way you work and the impact you will have.

So as a teacher how do we measure our impact?

Keep our eyes on the game

When working with our school I like to make visible our school’s ethnicity data. I have been tracking ours for seven years and am amazed at how much movement I have seen in the seven years since I have been at Newmarket. We have a fabulous makeup of an amazing group of students who are predominantly Asian. Recently I have seen another surge of new migrants, when I have finalised our application for ESOL funding. I have begun with this because the makeup of our school affects our data. At the same time I stress the importance of watching the data. The aim long term is not to get caught up in the six month gains or the short term achievements that we can sometimes become excited over. I have faith that our bilingual learners will exceed our expectations when they get to secondary school because I have faith in our teachers and in my school.

The importance of data to help drive learning

My first query is, ‘Do our children want to come to school?‘ So by focussing on attendance data I look at our children who have attendance gaps and determine why this happens. We have an amazing person who watches the trends carefully and catches up with families if there is a drop in attendance.

We can also measure academic data and decide on the impact we expect to see. We have a range of assessment tools that give us this information and we are getting better at analysing them to target where our teaching gaps are and the effect we are having. We have a robust student management system that is able to aggregate the data and our teachers are developing in their skills to access and analyse the information.

When measuring our impact I believe that understanding what a year’s progress looks like is more important than measuring where our learners sit against national standards.  I also believe that it takes six to seven years to measure the learning journey to see that progress. I state this because of my training in bilingual education and am influenced by the work of Thomas and Collier who have also conducted longitudinal studies on language learners progress and have researched that it takes six to eight years to see the impact of bilingual education. We are not a bilingual school but we do celebrate the languages that our children bring with them.

Every teacher needs to be tracking the children’s progress, but we really need to move faster as there is a sense of urgency for our bilingual children who are catching up. For them I expect to see greater than a years progress.We can track this by analysing reading graphs initially. When I look at reading data I love seeing something like this (Fig 1)and bearing in mind that orange to turquoise plateau when inferencing becomes even more important rather than at the text understanding. These graphs were borrowed from our student management system ‘EDGE’ and was part of what I shared with our Board of Trustees recently. Against National Standards this student is well below. Using the data I can share accelerated progress.

Fig 1


When I look at our writing data using asTTle as one tool, I check the scores because they tell me more about student’s progress than the curriculum levels. I align them to the reading and see where everything sits. I look for something like this (Fig 2). This is a three year reading graph and writing data. Remember many of our children are migrant and often come with literacy in their first language. The reading always shifts first and the writing can lag behind. Note the highlighted number, and I am seeing less of the inflated score that can happen at the end of the year. From my own learning I see a correlation between the scores and the colour wheel. This is not yet proven, but I am seeing a trend. For example a 1B writing score shifting into the 1000s usually happens from green level in reading. 

Fig 2

sample2 sample1a

I also scrutinise historic data and identify drops. I look for the classic year 3-4 drop when Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALPs) becomes much more important than Basic Interpersonal Communication (BICs) for assessing progress. (Cummins). I am excited to say that after several years of across school moderation, we are no longer seeing that drop at year 3 & 4 so I believe we have nailed that. One key question here is ‘How long have the children been sitting at or above before we know that this data is stable?’ Check out your own school data at the Education Counts site.  If your school data is stable then there should not be that year 7 drop that also happens when children go to intermediate. I can also see from our historic graph the last time when our year 2 data was still too high. The graph shows the last of the trending drop happening in year 3. (Refer 2013, Year 2.)


Oral Language

As teachers we do tend to focus on reading and writing because these can be measured. However  take into account Paul Nations research into academic vocabulary and unpack what is required to achieve at this level of learning and remember how long it takes to learn a language. This can be broken down further using Academic Word List (AWL) devices by Averil Coxhead.

Students need to be acquiring 2000 new words per year to make a years progress. When this is broken down further, that is approximately 40 new words per week that should be actively taught. Breaking it down further, this is 10 words per day because we take into account holidays.  I recommend seriously looking at Jane Van der Zeydens book Essential Oral Language Toolkit. I love Jane’s work because it is research based and from a recent classroom teacher’s perspective. Jane also understands the sense of urgency for our English Language Learners.

Goal Setting

Recently I had a discussion with a colleague about the importance of goal setting. But not from a teacher perspective as was her understanding but from the learner’s perspective. I asked why the children were not setting their own goals looking at their own data. I shared with her John Hattie’s effect size on goal setting and suggested using the ‘Three Bear’s’ analogy also used by John. ‘Not too hard, not too soft but just right.’ The following was taken from one of our previous student projects. SOLO Taxonomy framework helped me unpack my understanding of goal setting but that is another blog post. 

NPS3 bears

Sharing data

As a school we have worked hard to have a shared understanding of data. We have looked at all our data in teams and set goals. We have shared our impact with each other and recently in teams we shared our impact with our Board of Trustees. We are gaining an understanding about the sense of urgency and about looking for a minimum impact of a years progress for a years learning. We are developing in our understanding about what the learning progression looks like at each year level as we moderate across the school. 

Update The Learning progression framework has just become public. Do register to increase understanding for the work we do.

Where to next?

Well I have recently joined our Auckland Central Community of Schools as an in school teacher but with a focus on building the across school community. Those of you who follow my work will understand my excitement at this new development.  I can hardly believe my enthusiasm because I have the chance to see longitudinal data being shared across our 11 schools. I have the chance to work with over 70 educators as we come together to make a difference to 7,963 children and their families. I have a chance to see if what we begin at primary school feeds through to our intermediate and then our secondary school. I can check to see how we are doing against the Thomas and Collier chart. We are all on the same journey and that is giving our best to our children. I have a chance to see and be part of a collective teacher group and the chance to see teacher efficacy in action across several schools.

Participatory Oriented Citizens:

In October of 2012, I attended Ulearn as an attendee. From the flood of information that washed over me I set two goals.

The first was to run a TeachMeet in New Zealand using Google Hangouts to provide a space where teachers can share their stories. That goal has eventuated and has grown into a curated resource for education that currently has over 70 teacher stories in 3 minutes.

The second goal was to to have our children collaborate on a Global project. This second goal is drawing closer. This year a school global project will be launched that was developed as part of my #FlatConnect Global Educator outcomes.

In the past we have coordinated and run two global projects and have taken part in a few others. Our coordinated projects involved hosting an author in the hot seat. The first session was hosted face to face at the National Library and we hosted Sandra Morris. We had six New Zealand Schools involved and one came in via Skype. Most of the asynchronous communication took place via email. Except for two teachers via twitter. During the global event we used synchronous communication such as Skype and the children used the ‘author in the hot seat forum’ on Superclubsplus to ask questions of the author.

The following year in May 2012, our children took part in a Global Project coordinated by the BBC. You can read more about that here. The asynchronous  tools used were email and youtube. Later that month we ran anothercoordinated global session using Superclubsplus and this time directly from our school. We hosted Ant Sang, kiwi graphic artist extraordinaire.  The story was featured on TKI as part of the Snapshot For Learning series. The link can no longer be located so have added the link to the shared doc used to create the entry. Virginia Kung our assistant principal was the driving force behind this project as part of her inquiry and I coordinated the tool supporting her. Again our synchronous tool was the ‘author in the hot seat forum’ on Superclubsplus. Note here, Superclubsplus is now known as Skoodle.

Where to next? 

As 2015 begin, I think about how our next global project will eventuate. As a Travelwise school with a focus on reducing traffic at the gate, we will take a leading role in this Flat Connect global project and this time I want the children much more involved at the connecting, collaborating, creating and sharing process. I have observed some of the global work we have been involved in and have led and have identified the one offs. Using SOLO Taxonomy this is multistructural in thinking and in order to move to relational thinking we need to create learning experiences that last longer than a one off synchronous session. The skype in the classroom our students were recently involved in was another example of these one off sessions. I regard these one off sessions like a tourist hopping on and off the bus. ‘Stop, take a photo- here is the evidence I have been here and taken part.’

At Newmarket School the #FlatConnect Global Project Travel2School for children will focus on students as participatory orientated citizens as framed by Westheimer and Kahne’s (2004) conceptions of citizenship. We will unpack what this means by identifying responsibilities such as.

    • take skilled and active role in groups that work for the common good
    • know effective strategies for collaborative action

Connections between students will be more than a one off communication session. Collaboration between students will involve students working with others outside their own schools. Across schools an artefact will be co-created that will make a difference to school communities. The students will celebrate learning by globally sharing and reflecting on their part in the process. Underpinning this project will be citizenship. You can read how my thinking is evolving around the term citizenship here.


Routledge.Westheimer, J. and Kahne, J. (2004). Educating the “Good” Citizen: Political choices and pedagogical goals. American Political Science Association

Goundhog Day at Newmarket School

In 1877, Newmarket School in Auckland New Zealand was established on the site where 277 is today.
On the weekend I was excited to have our current principal Dr Wendy Kofoed take part in an online discussion about learning with educators from around New Zealand.
This discussion will continue throughout October as part of #CENZ14.
After the discussion I put a call out to Pam Hook to read what we have so far accomplished as I wanted to ensure that the project is framed by SOLO Taxonomy. 
Pam flicked me a link to a sceptics log she and a team of creators had made in 2006 and the discussion was the same. In addition she linked me up to Chris Bigum who had been part of that original discussion and he started feeding me readings and video links via twitter.
The outcome of all that weekend learning is this reflection.
One particular idea that I had read about and awoke with was groundhog day. 
We are such an old school. I thought of our first school leader, Captain Charles Ross Cholmondely Smith.
in his single classroom with his room full of children.
The stories I have read about how the children learnt is hilarious. 
But if we revisit those early days of education, we know that the teacher was basically a coach.
They used the older children to teach the younger children who in turn taught the younger ones than themselves. In addition he would have had a team of children leaders who took care of various activities to help with the running of the school, kind of like our student leadership programme.
If a child needed extra help they would know who to ask for support.
They would only go to the teacher when absolutely necessary because he ruled his classroom in true military style of the time. 
Newmarket School on current 277 site of today
As the years passed and the school grew and new teachers came in, the process continued with teachers using each other as support. There was no professional development in those days only personal learning.
They relied totally on the community for everything because there was no local $2.00 shops to stock up or colour photocopying for the walls. They used local resources in their programme kind of like the glocalisation concept. (No, not a spelling mistake.)
The children would have continued to support each other and most had a job to do to help keep the school clean and tidy because there would have been no school cleaners in those days. This is like how we structure our enviro programme.
I was thinking about our current situation with the discussion centred around learning and thought we are moving back to those times not because of circumstances but because it just worked.
Teachers are reminded about the pool of learning amongst their peers. Our current head teacher continues to lead by example in her own learning. She in turn guides and coaches her team in their learning, who guide and coach the teachers in their teams with their learning who guide and coach the children in their classes and between classes as we move back to ”it takes a whole school to teach a child,’ and we move back to the notion of a single building on the site where there are no walls and we learn with and from each other. 
We have a variety of interesting developments happening in our school and this is raising teachers to the surface with their learning. Even more exciting is that they are sharing their learning with each other and several have begun the journey of reflecting in a visible way for our global school community via  a blog that you can read on the right hand side. If I have missed anyone, please do send me your link.
So in our old grounds, in our old buildings that are being demolished and rebuilt I can hear our head teacher, teachers and children ancestors giggling and watching from the ruins saying, here we go again. And you know what, so what. This teacher with 30 years experience finds it exciting to watch the cycle of education life go around again. Just like I love watching our 100 year old tree go through its cycle of life on a yearly basis, change and grow bigger and better, Just like I love talking with teachers and hearing their learning stories and sharing their learning stories. Even more exciting is the change happening. 
Children ancestors of Newmarket School

Nature of Science

Over the past year, Newmarket school have been learning the Nature of Science with Susan Heeps.

This has involved professional development with hands on activities, the opportunity to revisit the National Science curriculum and the chance to learn from each other. In addition we have been learning about the importance of children making real links with what is going on in their lives.


Over the years, Newmarket school have had the Life Education van visit our school. The children have loved working with Harold and learning all about respect of others and of self. So when the opportunity  came to be part of the celebrations and to see The great Gatsby, I answered yes to attending the event. What I took from the evening was how important it was that communities had ownership of the projects.

We were introduced to Caring and Co who were a group of high school students who won regional awards with their project to ensure that children would have the opportunity to attend Life Education sessions with Harold. 
I took with me our current Mandarin Language Assistant and her friend.
We had an enjoyable evening and like our children I was excited to meet Harold and get my photo taken with him.