This is the second in a three-part series of columns by Marybeth Flachbart, who lives in Boise and has more than 30 years of education experience as a teacher, administrator and consultant.
My previous column pointed out the importance of teachers building strong, trusted relationships with students and parents to help kids learn.
In addition to the critical necessity of the relationship between a teacher, student, and their family, educators also need each other. We are a diverse group! Principals, teachers, counselors, and support staff all play an integral role in educating the whole child. Some of us have been in our positions for years, while others are new in the profession. This mix of experience, talent, and passion can and should be leveraged to help everyone as we strive to meet the needs of all learners.
We know when we are part of a team that cares about us both as individuals and as professionals. The research term is collective efficacy. John Hattie, educational researcher and author of “Visible Learning” conducted meta-analyses on the effectiveness of teacher collective efficacy and found that is No. 1 factor that influences student achievement. According to Hattie, teacher collective efficacy is at least three times more powerful and predictive of student performance than socioeconomic status, home environment, and parental involvement. Hattie states that collective teacher efficacy is twice as influential as the students’ prior achievement.
What is collective teacher efficacy? It’s when teachers work together as a team and believe they can make a difference in the classroom and help students succeed.
Creating collective teacher efficacy solidifies relationships, develops mentors, and allows teachers to learn new skills. In the current school landscape, new technologies have been introduced. There are master teachers who might not understand how to best use different software, platforms, or programs to help students learn. Younger teachers, however, could be experts on the software. These teachers have an opportunity to learn from each other and make the school more effective.
Additionally, the relationships among teachers is important to provide peer support outside of the classroom. In the midst of COVID-19, teachers are managing their classrooms, and many are trying to take care of their own children and families. Burnout and stress become concerns as school hours go from traditional days into earlier mornings and later evenings.
Relationships with other educators can help alleviate some of that stress. Peer support is essential in all walks of life, and education certainly is no exception. We need each other.