I meet monthly with a group of job alike curriculum specialists/instructional specialists from neighboring school districts. I started the group as a way to network with others with a similar job position as mine with the hope of learning with and from each other to both empower and motivate us in the work we do. We meet once a month for two hours. The first hour is devoted to sharing our work and/or practices. For example, we might share an overview of a presentation we attended at a local or national conference, we might run through a workshop we plan to propose or present at a conference, or we might ask advice on a problem of practice we have identified. The second hour focused on a book study. Last year we read The Book in Question by Carol Jago. This year we are reading The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar. For each hour, we take turns presenting our learning or facilitating a new protocol for the book discussion. The collaborative and collegial nature of this group has proven to be powerful and motivational.
In September, we met for the first time this school year. During the first hour of our meeting, two of the members shared information from a session they attended over the summer focusing on John Hattie’s effect size. According to Visible Learning, “His research, Visible Learning, is the culmination of more than 25 years of examining and synthesizing more than 1,600 meta-analyses comprising more than 95,000 studies involving 300 million students around the world.” John Hattie has identified 250 factors that influence student achievement. A 2019 updated list of these factors can be found at https://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/. As a networking group, we reviewed the list of factors and reflected on the ones that we felt were most critical to our roles. We specifically focused on anything greater than a .40 effect size as anything greater than this effect size represents more than a typical year’s growth.
I have since taken this information and used it in workshops I have led for both middle school and high school teachers as a way to reflect on our practices and set goals for the year. After explaining what a significant effect size is, a simple protocol to use has participants move through the following steps:
1. Skim and scan units taught during the year as well as the purpose behind the units.
2. Skim and scan current teaching strategies or approaches.
3. Skim and scan the Visible Learning Matrix.
4. Write a goal for the year based on the information.
Throughout the process, time for discussion with partners and small groups helps to clarify and deepen the reflection process.
These practices both validate current work as well as encourage new direction for educating ourselves on effective teaching practices we want to improve on or add to our repertoire for the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers and colleagues have appreciated this resource as it is providing a focus for our collaborative work within our Professional Learning Communities, departments, and one-to-one coaching sessions. Similarly, it is providing a foundation for two action research projects I plan to collaborate on for the year.