Collaboration between colleagues isn’t just some feel good moment where we get to have a casual chat about teaching over some biscuits and coffee. It’s where the real work of school improvement begins; the deep evidence driven dialogue that is tightly focused on delivering better outcomes for students. In the field of education research, this practice is called collective teacher efficacy (CTE). Educational researchers John Hattie, Jennie Donnohoo and Rachel Eells assert that CTE occurs “When a team of individuals share the belief that through their unified efforts they can overcome challenges and produce intended results” (Educational Leadership, March 2018). What’s more compelling is that this form of school practice is a high impact mechanism with robust data to prove so. See the below image (high ranking effect size circled in red).

The average effect size is d=0.40. CTE (Collective Teacher Efficacy) is purported to have an Effect Size of 1.57. This is a whopping three times more effective than the average school practice used to influence student achievement. So if this is such a high impact mechanism, how can we as school leaders go about building this into the culture and practice of our schools. I can think of three broad questions leaders can ask to begin to think about developing CTE in their schools.

  1. What can we do differently to drive student outcomes?
  2. What will these changes look like in practice? I.e. what changes do we need to make to our behaviour to live out this new way of doing things?
  3. How will we measure the impact of what we are doing to see if we are achieving our intended results?

These questions are broad but critically important. They offer a strategic starting point to then pose more detailed sub-questions. The approach requires high fidelity- a real long term commitment to school improvement. If you are a quick-fix, off-the-peg ready meal kind of leader, this isn’t for you.