Are our instructional practices evolving at a pace that supports ongoing student success?
This essential question should drive how we see our approach in the classroom and our students’ learning journey. Historically, teachers have stood as the gatekeepers of information in their classrooms. Learners had to wait for a trickle of information at a pace predetermined by the teacher whether it was too fast, too slow or just right. The problem is every student is their own “Goldilocks” and just right means different things for different learners.
Something has to change
Many educators remain stuck in a model where information is delivered through passive and ineffective lecture, and note-taking sessions that rarely move the needle on learning outcomes. Often, the only indicators for student success are standardized tests that are analyzed through the lens of a student’s ability to learn, instead of a teacher’s ability to support learning. It is time to flip this idea on its head! The only true way to improve student outcomes is to see the learning process through their eyes. John Hattie’s Visible Learning provides data on what it means to have a student-centered classroom, and how to shift from good to great in your instructional approach.
Keep reading to learn how John Hattie’s concept of Visible Learning and the Hāpara Instructional Suite can help you to improve your teaching practice and support all types of learners.
Examine your impact on learning
The main catalyst for learning in the classroom must be the teacher. If students arrived in the classroom knowing how to take charge of their learning, then what would be the point of having a talented educator like yourself? The expertise of the teacher is what brings the material to life and your ability to convey this in a way that engages students is what sparks learning. John Hattie declares that you are the major “change agent” in your classroom! Own this amazing title! This is why teachers need to use their assessments as an indicator of their impact on learning, not their students’ ability to learn the material on their own. Take the time to look at the major factors impacting learning in your classroom, so you can streamline your approach to the areas of impact that not only work–but work best.
Don’t stop at creating a lesson plan and activities as your indication of how to move forward, and recycling activities that yield mediocre results. If students are not successful on an assessment, that is an indication that you must analyze and shift your practice because the true responsibility of a test is to measure your ability to convey the material in a way that affects student learning. Now, teachers can evolve to be more introspective and prescriptive about their approach in the classroom to become lean, mean, teaching machines.
Hāpara Workspace allows teachers to open up an entire landscape of vital information and gives them the opportunity to differentiate in order to challenge and support learners at every level. It is time to shake up the roles in the modern classroom, and effectively utilize our online learning tools to create deeper learning.
Listen to learners
We have all walked into a classroom that was eerily quiet and the teacher’s voice is the only one permitted, but all that tells us is compliance is the only standard for the classroom. These factors combined paint a picture of a classroom filled with passive, and often inactive learners and frazzled teachers from all of the heavy lifting they are required to do. How can you know if your instruction is working if you never hear from the actual learners?
It is time to have a real and open conversation with your students about what you are doing that is working and what isn’t. Do not take this as a criticism of your expertise, but an opportunity to tweak your approach for individual students. Allow students to send their feedback in Gmail, or assign them a Google Form questionnaire in each Workspace to get a sense of whether an activity is increasing or decreasing student understanding. Make certain that you have worked with the students to develop shared understandings of the learning targets in your classroom. Communication is not just the feedback post-assessment, but also ensuring that students have clarity about what they must learn. You may be the change agent and catalyst in the classroom, but the students are ultimately the drivers of their learning.
Educational technology has created a seismic shift in the way in which information is delivered inside and outside of the classroom. Visible learning doesn’t exist without, well, visibility! Students need to be able to connect to classwork and resources at all times, and Hāpara’s Student Dashboard empowers them to monitor their progress and deadlines. This digital hub assists in developing the vital executive functioning skills that make students life-long learners. Teachers can now use the Student Dashboard to model for students how to take charge of their learning. Student agency is just as important as any other indicator of achievement in schools.
Build a positive learning environment
Analyzing your approach to teaching and learning success should also extend to the social and emotional aspects of your learning practice. Developing an environment where students feel safe to make errors and trust your guidance will make a huge impact on their willingness to push themselves to meet a higher standard. Modeling good digital citizenship, and respect for others will also increase their collaboration and create learning communities within your classroom that scaffold learning support. As learners develop their way to support one another, you are free to spend that time focusing on what will truly increase their success in the classroom. Your impact as an educator extends beyond simply what students learn, but teaching them how to learn is a lesson that will multiply success.