Two Basic Principles for Teachers

Further to my re-reading of Visible Learning by John Hattie, I came upon a discussion of what teachers should do prior to the preparation and teaching of a lesson.  Here are my edited notes of pp. 37-40.

  • 1. Attention needs to be given to how and not only to what the child is learning.
  • 2. The mind develops in response to challenge.
  • 3. Any intervention must provide some cognitive conflict.
  • 4. Cognitive development is a social process promoted by high quality dialogue among peers supported by teachers.
  • 5.  Teachers must first attend to how the students are learning.

Hattie then goes on to describe what Shayer (2003) believes to be two basic principles for teachers when assessing the prior achievement of students.

Two Basic Principles for Teachers:

First, a teachers’ role is one of creating interventions that will increase the proportion of children attaining a higher thinking level.

Second, learning is collaborative and requires dialogue–teachers need to listen as well as talk.

(In conclusion, teachers) must know what students already know, know how they think, and then aim to then progress all students towards the success criteria of the lesson.

It strikes me that the conclusion could be better written as:

Teachers must figure out what students know already, know how they think, and then teach them what you want them to know.

He’s not asking for much, eh?

What Inspired Teachers Do Not Do….

John Hattie describes (Visible Learning for Teachers, p. 32) what he thinks inspired teachers should not do.  He writes it in paragraph form but I wish that he had done so in bulleted form for ease of understanding.   Here, then, is a list of things that John Hattie believes that inspired teachers should not do. (Later, I will put the list into positives so that inspired teachers can know what they should do.)

Inspired teachers do not:

1.  Use grading as punishment.

2.  (Combine) behavioural and academic performance.

3.  Elevate quiet compliance over academic work.

4.  Use worksheets excessively.

5.  Have low expectations and keep defending low-quality learning as`doing (one`s) best.“

6.  Evaluate their impact by compliance, covering the curriculum, or conceiving explanations as to why they have little or no impact on students.

7.  Prefer perfection in homework over risk-taking that involves mistakes.

Powerful, Passionate, Accomplished Teachers

On page 19 of Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning by John Hattie, the author provides a bulleted list of what he considers to be the characteristics of “powerful, passionate (and) committed teachers.”

With apologies to John Hattie, I have edited the list to make it (at least to me) clearer.

Powerful, passionate, accomplished teachers:

1.  Focus on students’ learning.

2. Emphasize problem-solving teaching techniques.

3. Focus on new knowledge and then monitor student progress to ensure mastery.

4. Provide feedback to students quickly and appropriately.

5. Seek feedback from students about their teaching methods.

6. Have a deep understanding of how students learn.

7. See learning through the eyes of the student.  That is, provide time for practice, trumpet successes, allow failures, give and seek feedback.

8.  Care about student success.  Share a passion for subject matter with the world.



My Teacher Really Cares About Me

My teacher really cares about me

Last Spring, I read Visible Learning by John Hattie.   Much could be written in response to this excellent book, but I thought instead I would share something that I did with my class in response to one of the activities he suggests.

On p. 28 in Table 3.1 “Differences in students’ views of high-value and low-value teachers on seven factors of classroom climate. (the ‘7Cs’) he outlines dimensions and example items of the 7cs: care, control, clarify, challenge, captivate, confer, and consolidate.

I adapted this chart and added a Likert scale.  The above link shows the survey I then administered to my students.  I collated the results into percentages of those you “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statements.  I then discussed the results with the students making for some interesting insights into my teaching and the children’s perceptions of me.

It was definately “quick and dirty” social science, but I recommend other educators do the same.

How Children Succeed and The Smartest Kids in the World

How ChildrenSucceed by Paul Tough

The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley

This summer I read or reread these two books and I recommend them highly.

The first, How Children Succeed, has transformed my thinking about the role of character education in schools.  As a Catholic educator in a Catholic school, I appreciate being able to link the seven character traits–optimism, gratitude, curiosity, self control, social intelligence, grit and zest–directly to the parables and to the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church.

The second, The Smartest Kids in the World, is a well-written and eye-opening exploration of how some countries–South Korea, FInland and Poland, in particular–have managed to do a good job of educating children–as measured by the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment).  Canada, it seems, does a good job of educating its children.   If I were an educator living in the United States, I would be a bit discouraged by what the author has to say.  What does Canada–a country as ethnically diverse and capitalist as the USA–do that America does not?   Not a lot.  But what it does do makes a huge difference.. 

Read them both. It’s worth it.. If those responsible for educating children would read them and take them seriously, I believe much could be done to improve the lives of many, many children.