Erin and I had the opportunity to attend this year’s Plain Talk Conference in New Orleans, which was packed with famous researchers, consultants, and influential practitioners in the field of education. We know it's tough to get away from the classroom, so we thought it would be a good idea to share some of the highlights of our learning at the conference. So here goes!
John Hattie – Part 1 – His research has revolutionized teacher practice across this country, and really around the world. Using many different high quality research studies, he has isolated the influence of teaching practices on student achievement. Hattie’s work is based on 10,000+ studies and 157 effects from about 12-16 million students. (You should check out his book!)
He continues to conduct research and is in the process of updating his latest findings. On his list of most effective influences, collective efficacy now tops the list. That means when a group of teachers believe that as a group they can impact student learning and achievement, their students perform better across the board. Pretty amazing!
Memorable thoughts from the wise John Hattie...
Most policymakers begin with the assumption teachers are all bad. This is flawed!
Most everything we do as teachers works….mostly. I have 20 years of evidence to prove it. Most everything we do enhances learning, but what makes the most impact?
The worst thing you can say is "Do your best." Sometimes their perceptions of "best" is not as good as it could be!
Bottom line…teachers should be looking at the IMPACT they are having on student learning.
Confidence helps students achieve…AND confidence can be taught.
John Hattie – Part 2
Latest Research – Top 10 List of Influences on Student Achievement
* Project-based learning, discovery learning, inquiry-based tasks don’t work when introduced before students have adequate knowledge of the content.
You must teach some surface learning in order to get to deep learning.
Michael Fullan – Michael Fullan is the “guru” of change theory. He has written many books and articles about improving educational systems. His session focused on collaboration, and WOW, collaboration and lateral learning is POWERFUL!
Fullan also discussed the concept of drivers. The “right” drivers include: capacity building, collaborative work, pedagogy, and systemness (awareness that you are part of a bigger system purpose…..wherever you are in system).
The “wrong” drivers include: accountability, individual teacher and leadership qualities, technology (although technology is not a “driver” it can be a strong “accelerator”), and fragmented strategies.
Memorable thoughts from the wise Michael Fullan...
Shift has occurred when teachers think, "Our kids...our school.." not "my kids...my classroom."
Coherence involves a shared depth of understanding about the nature of the work. This is SUBJECTIVE! And, we only get coherence through purposeful interaction. Trust is critically important!
Leaders are in the business of reducing variability (of practice and skill) among teachers.
In a collaborative culture, everyone learns together.
When the sense of collective efficacy and actions are high, individual effects also tend to zoom up.
Talented schools improve weak teachers.
Principals’ top priority should be improving collaboration among staff and developing leadership.
Susan Dewees, Ed.D. is an administrator at a large middle school. She also served as a Turnaround Team Coordinator for a public school district in Louisiana. She has 20 years of experience in public school education, and special education is one of her specialties.
Erin Stokes, Ed.D. is a Title I Instructional Coordinator for a public school district in Louisiana. She has over 10 years of experience as a teacher and instructional coach. She is also an adjuct professor at Louisiana College. She loves students, teachers, and most of all--learning.
Becky Pippen, Ed.D. is currently serving as principal of a large middle school in Louisiana. She has over 20 years experience in educational leadership. She is passionate about improving the teacher workforce so that all students have the quality of instruction they deserve.