The Role of Collective Efficacy in Teaching
Albert Badura, a renowned psychologist, defines self-efficacy as having confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s motivation, behaviors, and social environment. Developing our self-efficacy along with thinking about how to make our work a collective practice is key to optimizing the best opportunity for the growth of our students. In Hattie’s latest meta-analysis in 2018, he discusses what factors impact student achievement the most. Based on his research, he ranks collective teacher efficacy—the belief teachers have that together, they can positively affect students—as having an effect size of 1.57. What does this really mean? A .40 effect size has the potential to increase student achievement equal to one year of growth in one year. A 1.00 effect size has the potential to increase student achievement by two to three years in one year. Collective teacher efficacy tops the list with the highest impact for student achievement.
The question then becomes, “How might we build a positive culture first? One that allows for teachers to build relationships with one another, and to listen, trust, and encourage one another on and toward a common goal of educating our students?” We need to dig in and do the “deeper thinking” work of our practice using common language. We know that surface-level tasks, such as rote memorization and copying notes, eat up time and have little ROI. When educational leaders support the work of teachers, it sets the stage to allow for teachers to work together for the benefit of each other and our students. There is great potential to have tremendous gains for our students. According to Dr. Adam Drummond, author of The Instructional Change Agent, building culture needs to happen from Day 1 to Day 180. In his book, he writes, “Knowing your staff personally and professionally requires significant investment and time.” Only then can you identify strengths and “utilize these strengths to enhance the school culture.”
Building Collective Teacher Efficacy
Think about it. Collective teacher efficacy is ranked at a 1.57 effect size. Building the culture is the precursor to obtaining this effect size. Culture in a school is all about how adults interact, communicate, and behave amongst themselves and with visitors to the building, and this directly impacts student achievement. We tend to focus on teaching first rather than building a culture that allows for the more important work of preparing our students for the 21st century. Some school districts switch the order—culture first—and over time, one could see a positive culture reaps amazing benefits for students. What if all schools switched the order? This would help build a positive culture—one where teachers trust one another, practice norms of communication, and work together to make an impact.
The Rigor/Relevance Framework
How can we ground these conversations around a common framework and facilitate learning based on students’ needs? Dr. Bill Daggett’s Rigor/Relevance Framework offers an opportunity to do just that. It’s a framework that spans content areas and allows educators to have common language across disciplines, grades, and classrooms. This framework allows educators to anchor their thinking in research and use common language.
Daggett’s framework challenges us to plan, think, reflect, and innovate based on the needs of our students, not just for today but also for the future. It’s a philosophical approach to teaching that allows us to think deeper about what and why we teach our students. I have grown so much in my practice by using this framework and taking the time to intentionally think about what and why I am teaching. Imagine collaborating around the data and and allowing best instructional practices to be innovative. This is the true essence of collective teacher efficacy. Here is an illustration that shows the framework’s four quadrants.