Donohoo, Jenni, & Katz, Steven. (2017). When teachers believe, students achieve:Collaborative inquiry builds teacher efficacy for better student outcomes. Learning Professional 38(6), 20-21.
Cherkowski, S., & Schnellert, L. (2018). Teacher, team, and school change throughreciprocal learning. Teacher Development 22(2), 229-248.
Teaching and learning are the center of the teaching profession. Lately I have been doing a lot of wondering around how teaching and learning are connected to the teacher and student achievement and happiness. Over the past few years I have seen a shift in our profession, to a movement away from professional development towards a closed door approach to teaching.
Donohoo and Katz talk a lot about school culture and how it relates to teacher efficacy. How collective efficacy is the “constellation of productive patterns of behavior on the part of the adults in the building.” As teachers, and the adults, it is our responsibility to create a more positive attitude towards professional development, implement different instructional strategies, focus on academic pursuits, and this will all help to create a culture of learning and hopefully happiness.
If we teachers are not putting our best foot forward we are lowering expectations on ourselves and this results in lowering our expectations on our students.(Donohoo & Katz) The students need to see us as learners and to see us a advocates for their learning. We must practice reflect and refine when working with our students. We need to be vulnerable to take risks and have those tough discussions with our colleagues on what is right for our kids.
I hear it in the staff room, the kids just don’t get it, I give up, and they just don’t care. We need to turn this around and become more reflective. We need to move towards understanding and seeking out what the students don’t get and inquire how we can change our lessons, our teaching, our understanding to meet the needs of all our learners. We need to seek each other our for support and guidance.
Teacher efficacy is something I struggle with in my school. I am a learner, a ponderer, and a risk taker. I struggle with encouraging others to “buy in.” I have found that many are still stuck on the external attributions, the things in our students lives we can not change and the policies we have in our districts. Where the focus needs to shift is to the internal attributions, the things we can change in our practice. I am often left wondering how can I model and empower others to collaborate and create inquiry?
I have tried a variety of strategies to promote teacher learning. I find that many educators are hesitant to look inwards into their own practice to see what they can change. I find that people are tired and discouraged with change. I often hear, this is just another fad to try. For myself, I seek out my own team of learners. I have been a part of and social and emotional learning focus group for the past four years. Being a part of this amazing group has done wonders for me to strive deeper into my practice.
I am now working towards my master’s in educational practices, and it is to gain a deeper understanding of what I want to better understand myself as an educator. I want to feel grounded and I want to embed reflection and analyzing into my everyday practice. As educators we are lucky that we can change and try different things every year, to challenge ourselves to encourage learning and to stretch our thinking.
Our students change every year, so our practice needs to change with them. As school communities shift, we need to support one another. It would be wonderful to foster a community of collaboration and inquiry for student and teacher achievement and happiness. Like Donohoo and Katz said, ” students get better when teachers get better.” It is our duty to create trust in learning, to have ownership over what we do in the classroom, to build relationships with who we work with, students and colleagues, and to build our capacities as educators.