Thursday, 22 August 2013

How important is a good teacher?

Well, school is back, the new term has started and everything already looks settled and smooth. Our students are all with great teachers and are ready for a year of learning. But what is it that makes the difference to that year?

Probably not surprisingly, recent research shows that is the teacher who is one of the most important influences on learning outcomes and their classroom practice.

Professor John Hattie, who has been labeled as 'possibly the world's most influential education academic' (TES connect 14/9/12) undertook, in 2008, the biggest ever collection of evidence- based research into what makes a difference to learning in school.

It synthesised more than 50,000 studies encompassing the experiences of more than 80 million students across the English speaking world. From this, he was able to identify 136 interventions and rank them in order of effectiveness.

His research found that the best and most effective way to improve education outcomes relies on such things as setting learning goals and feedback from teachers.

Hattie says
" achievement is enhanced to the degree that students and teachers: set and communicate appropriate, specific and challenging goals; achievement is enhanced as a function of feedback; increases in student learning involves not only surface and deep learning but also a re conceptualisation of information" ( Hattie, Influences on Student Learning, 1999)

To achieve these things, the teacher is vital as they are the facilitators of the above.

One really interesting thing for me as a Principal, is that some of the things that many parents worry about, such as class size and homework have little effect on learning outcomes!

Hattie says
"The thing that really intrigues me is that the things at the bottom of the table still dominate our debates...We like to talk about things that really don't matter, such as all the structural things and the ways schools are set up."(TES connect 14/9/12)

So what are the top 10 list of influences on achievement according to Hattie?
Here they are, see what you think, they are taken from his book " Visible Learning for Teachers. Maximising impact on learning. (2012) The numbering is as per his book.

1. Developing high expectations for each student/ self reported grades
2. Piagetian programs
4. Response to intervention
4. Teacher credibility
6. Micro teaching
7. Classroom discussion
8. Comprehensive interventions for learning disabled students
9. Teacher clarity
10. Feedback

By the way, Homework is #94 and class size is #113. Other factors, like having a friend in class is not even on list.

It is good food for thought and as educators, the teachers at Bradbury, who all know about this research and have in fact heard John Hattie speak, constantly evaluate the effectiveness of their programmes, how they are teaching and whether or not they need to make changes to their pedagogical style.

It is great to be back. It is an interesting job, sometimes challenging, but always a pleasure! My best for a great year ahead. Below are some photos of learning this week:

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