Collective Efficacy and Action to Positively Influence Students and Learning (Focusing on Joy, Part 4)

appreciating teachers

“Collective efficacy is about the belief that, together, we can make a difference to the students we teach, no matter what!” (Andrew Hargreaves, 2018)

Collective Efficacy

Collective Efficacy is the third of three Principal Priorities Framework components. Collective efficacy is supported by the belief that teachers best impact the learning of students when they work as a team. According to Hattie (2011), collective teacher efficacy is more powerful and has double the effect of prior achievement and triple the effect of home environment and parental involvement. Collective teacher efficacy also results in improved student performance, motivation, concentration, persistence, and engagement. In addition, collective teacher efficacy also enhances relationships with parents and creates a collegial work environment that builds teacher commitment. (Brinson & Steiner, 2007)

We set priorities to ensure that schools are dedicated to collective efficacy by providing teachers with standards, data, time, systems, and opportunity. Standards and structures provide direction of where to go and grow in a year. Data offers evidence of where we are and have been. Time to teach critical content and gradually release the ownership of the learning to students is necessary. Assessment and feedback systems allow educators to observe, collect, analyze, and discuss the degree to which instruction and learning opportunities are developing students. Opportunity through professional development, planning, and guided implementation extends strengths and supports improvements.

Collective efficacy, a shared goal of providing engaging and effective student learning, begins with the development of three key areas:

Priorities in Cultivating Collective Efficacy
  • Student Efficacy—opportunities for students to partner with teachers to plan and experience engaging learning opportunities aligned to interests and with minimal distractions. Opportunities include both personalized and collaborative learning that supports students in using critical thinking to make meaningful choices and support their ideas. (Parker, et al, 2017)
  • Ongoing Professional Development—professional learning that includes teacher implementation and team discussion and analysis must be ongoing, job embedded and offer voice and choice. (Learning Policy Institute, 2017)
  • Cycle of Inquiry—focuses on instructional practice. Educators work together in teams or PLCs to study research-based practices, plan implementation of new learning into classroom instruction, analyze their lesson plan and student work products, and discuss areas of effectiveness and need for revision. Cycles of Inquiry provides teachers with a routine and conversation guide for improving student learning. (Literacy Improvement Partnership, 2021)

The coalition of these elements result in collective efficacy: a tangible and well supported belief that teachers and teaching make the greatest difference in student learning. Having this abiding understanding and belief that the team of educators in the school makes the greatest difference for student success influences teacher motivation, mindset, and action.

Collective Efficacy brings the community together. According to DeWitt (2019) Collective Efficacy begins by co-constructing goals, ensuring that all participants have an authentic voice in the process, work together to examine and test solutions, and analyze evidence of impact. The most important aspect of this element is the simple joys of working together through a challenge and taking time to celebrate success with the entire school community.

Author Bios

Bonnie D. Houck is an experienced teacher, administrator, consultant, coach, author, speaker, and trainer who specializes in literacy leadership development and positive school change. Bonnie has authored books, journal articles, blogs, and webinars focused on literacy and leadership.

Tracy Frederick Corcoran serves as the Director of Teaching and Learning for a Twin Cities area school district. Tracy is an experienced teacher, instructional coach, curriculum coordinator, and AVID District Director, who enjoys providing professional development across the country. 

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