Some people say good teaching is good teaching. Others argue that what is good practice can be more sector specific.
Whatever the answer, what are the messages about good teaching and learning from one of the gurus: Melbourne University’s Professor John Hattie?
John’s league table
John Hattie has developed a way of synthesizing various influences on the quality of teaching and learning on student outcomes using meta-analyses. In effect, this work is looking at what approaches give most ‘bang for the buck’. One of the endpoints is the Visible Learningplus change model for professional learning.
OK, it’s school focused, but there are lessons for VET here too. It’s worth having a look at some of the resources on this site and his site at Melbourne University.
A summary of some of John’s research by Will Fastiggi identifies the 6 qualities of teachers which impact student learning the most. These qualities, in order of importance, sees the most ‘successful’ teachers as those who:
- Are passionate about helping their students learn
- Monitor their impact on students’ learning, and adjust their approaches accordingly
- Are clear about what they want their students to learn
- Forge strong relationships with their students
- Adopt evidence-based teaching strategies
- Actively seek to improve their own teaching.
Being part of a teaching team is important
It’s also important that teachers do not teach in isolation, Hattie has found. So, the institutions they work in:
“must create the structures and cultures that foster effective educator collaboration – collaboration that focuses on factors their sphere of influence to impact student learning in a positive way.”
Effective feedback to students is key to learning
Feedback to students, “is one of the single most powerful influences on student achievement.” In Hattie’s view the feedback needs to be clear and mindful of students’ prior knowledge. It also needs to be directed at the right level, to help students comprehend, engage, or develop effective strategies to process the information intended to be learnt. Feedback, he suggests, works powerfully when there is a ‘lot of challenge’ in the task.
Feedback needs to relate to the learning intention and success criteria and occur as the students are doing the learning. Teachers also need to provide information on how and why the student has or has not met the success criteria. It is also really good if the teacher can provide strategies to help individual students to improve.
What this also sounds like is having really well designed and informative assessment processes that help both the teacher and the learner get the feedback they need.
Developing and coaching teachers
And to develop teachers effectively requires that they be ‘coached’. In this case the ‘coaches’ are “suppliers of candour”, providing individual teachers with the objective feedback they need to nourish their growth.
Hattie argues that:
“coaching is specific to working towards student outcomes. It is not counselling for adults; it is not reflection; it is not self-awareness; it is not mentoring or working alongside. Coaching is deliberate actions to help the adults to get the results from the students – often by helping teachers to interpret evidence about the effect of their actions, and providing them with choices to more effectively gain these effects.”
There are three key elements in this process: “the coach; the coached; and the agreed explicit goals of the coaching.”