For the observant amongst you who read articles on the ‘Magenta Principles’ in our newsletter a fortnight ago, you will know that teachers are currently undergoing a collective internal review. So why collectively? Surely it would be better to have a team of experts flown in to inspect and evaluate? But if we want to bring about change and improvement in student achievement, working as a collective unit will have the biggest impact on our pupils.
Back in 2016, John Hattie positioned ‘collective teacher efficacy’ at the top of the list of factors that positively influence student achievement across subject areas. Collective efficacy, originally named by psychologist Albert Bandura, was defined as "a group's shared belief in its conjoint capability to organise and execute the courses of action required to produce given levels of attainment".
Wandsworth Prep have been involved in a teacher coaching programme over the last few years, led by Bellevue Education, to improve teacher efficacy in their schools. There have been many studies investigating this including John Hattie’s findings: ‘‘collective teacher efficacy is greater than three times more powerful and predictive of student achievement than socioeconomic status. It is more than double the effect of prior achievement and more than triple the effect of home environment and parental involvement. It is also greater than three times more predictive of student achievement than student motivation and concentration, persistence, and engagement’.
So if the evidence suggests that it is the collaboration of teachers’ shared beliefs and actions that affects student achievement most highly, how do we do this in a profession where teachers work alone in a classroom?
Well the answer is that we have to ‘make’ the time. Wandsworth Prep are currently undergoing a four week internal review, set up by the teachers, for the teachers. We are creating the environment for productive teacher collaboration through a programme where teachers agreed on their teaching goals and planned a series of observations, discussions and book based monitoring to collate the evidence to this all important question: Do our teaching styles/activities/tasks/questioning raise pupil achievement and what evidence do we have to prove it?
Rather than senior leaders making all of these observations, all teachers are observing each other and feeding back to their colleagues on the impact of the teaching they have seen. They have also filmed their own lessons and made self-evaluations of their impact and had coaching sessions with peers to discuss whether the collaborative goals were met using questioning such as: What was the impact when I did x?" "How did x affect the pupils in my classroom?" "How can we work together to make x even better?
So we are on our collective learning journey and as a by-product, having the opportunity to delight in the talents of our fellow teachers. It is wonderful to see the teachers living by the school value of collaboration.