By: Amy Wasser
According to John Hattie, Professor of Education at the University of Melbourne whose research includes performance indicators and evaluation in education, collective teacher efficacy is the belief that through their collective action, teachers can positively influence student outcomes. Is that not every educator’s goal: to see his or her teaching impacting student growth? Yet, so often teachers are doing this work in a silo, striving to create the best lessons, most inclusive assessments and find methods to reach each learner in their classroom. How much richer our experiences would be if teachers could do this in teams, so that they intentionally reflect, through collective learning, about successes and misses of both their teaching and their student’s grasp of material.
A group of over 40 educators, from ten diverse Jewish Day Schools, spent three days immersed in Research For Better Teaching’s seminar on High Impact Teacher Teams. Research for Better Teaching (RBT) is a professional development organization dedicated to improving classroom teaching and school leadership. Together with educators from Prizmah: The Center for Jewish Day Schools, these teacher teams prepared to bring back solid practices to their schools that will necessitate strong modeling of teamwork among educators while using data to inform student learning. Chanie Geisinsky, Principal of Silverstein Hebrew Academy in Great Neck, Long Island, reflected, “Unfortunately I was only able to participate the first day, but it was definitely fulfilling and productive. I debriefed today with our head of school and we are looking forward to deploying it gradually in our elementary and middle school classes. I think it will make not only a huge difference and bring change but has the potential to be the ultimate game changer in raising the bar of our teaching and learning.”
The RBT model includes:
Using the FAR (Formative Assessment for Results) Cycle
- Clarify the learning journey
- Infuse formative assessments
- Analyze formative assessments
- Take FIRME action (feedback, investigation, reteach, move on, extension)
In using the RBT method teams of teachers will:
- Determine what step in the FAR cycle they will focus on
- Determine the purpose of each team meeting: then learn, take action and reflect
- Determine activities to use to achieve the goals
The teams will build their expertise in:
- Clarifying learning goals for students so steps to success are clear
- Using formative assessment tools throughout instruction
- Analyzing success based on pre-established criteria and identifying errors in student thinking
- Taking FIRME action
More details can be found here.
The concluding activity involved each team making a license plate for their next steps. Below find an example of the clear plan for moving forward and bringing RBT into the school.
To sum it up, the teams will use data often to make sure each child succeeds. As the RBT trainer stated, school improvement is a team sport. Nothing is more satisfying to an educator than when they know they have the tools to raise a student’s achievement. This is truly collective teacher efficacy.
Charna Schubert, Principal at Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis, TN, attended this conference. She said it was one of the best she have been at in her 20 years of education. Upon return home, the team met and already have a wonderful plan and all the resources they need for implementation. “We have had meetings all morning to plan Readers and Writers workshop alignment and we have been discussing success curriculum all morning!”
Due to the generosity of AVI CHAI, each school team will receive 20 hours of coaching from a Prizmah teaching and learning team member to assist them in implementing the program and honing the practices of RBT. This will also allow for deeper relationships between Prizmah and the schools as we work together to further the strength of our programs and build the pipeline of educational leaders.
Amy Wasser is Director of School Advocacy and Community Day School Advocate at Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.