Developing and showcasing the expertise of teachers: THE secret to educational success?

More than ever, according to researcher John Hattie, the expertise of teachers must be put forward because their impact is more determining than all the other factors in their educational progress of young people. And this would be true across the planet for decades. This is one of the messages he conveyed to his audience during a conference on February 25.

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with the collaboration of Audrey Miller and Stéphanie Dionne.

More than ever, according to the researcher John hattie, the expertise of teachers must be put forward because their impact is more decisive than all the other factors in their educational progress for young people. And this would be true across the planet for decades. This is one of the messages he reminded his audience at a conference on February 25.

Mr. John Hattie, live from New Zealand, gave an engaging virtual lecture attended by over 400 people. The event was organized by the Association québécoise du personnel de direction des écoles (AQPDE). The Minister of Education of Quebec, Mr. Jean-François Roberge, was also present for the occasion. 

For more than two decades, the researcher, who obtained his doctorate from the University of Toronto in 1981, has devoted his work to the analysis of scientific research and studies on teaching and learning from around the world. . It is notably known for measuring the effect size of various factors associated with more effective teaching, with the aim of informing decision-making as to the changes to be considered as a priority, those which are deemed to have the best impact on success, regardless of the specific characteristics of the environment. 

From the outset, he recognizes it: all classes in the world are different. The normal reflex, admits the researcher, is to say that they cannot be compared. He knows that there are also many criticize his approach and its recommendations, but he sees them as a sign of the interest shown in them and the need to better explain them. 

Indeed, some findings do not vary across the thousands of studies he has analyzed for years, with unique students, whether in Shanghai or Montreal. 

Among the factors that are at the top of the list, nothing related to the school system, student profile, programs or school layout. Rather, it is the human impact that emerges, particularly the effect that the teacher can have on his students. “Yet too many teachers still downplay their expertise. They should rather shout it from the rooftops! “, He recalls without restraint. 

The ways of thinking of the teacher who values and builds his expertise

This teaching expertise is not necessarily present in the same way everywhere. This is why he drew up a list of the modes of thought which characterize the teachers having a strong impact on the progress of their pupils.

Among these, we retain the ability to define one's impact criteria and to evaluate them, to perceive the evaluation of the students as a feedback of its impact on them, to collaborate with colleagues and students to progress and increase one's impact, to see oneself as an agent of change, to always want to do better, to engage in dialogue (sharing of ideas) rather than monologue (transmission of knowledge), to build relationships of trust that allow others to feel free to make mistakes and learn, both in class and with colleagues, etc.

He also invites the principals to identify teachers who have a strong impact and to make a great place for the sharing of their expertise within their school team. 

Evaluation as a measure of the impact of teaching

And how do we define this “strong impact”? For John Hattie, an important track is that of evaluation. “Evaluation should be used by teachers to measure their own impact on their students,” he says without hesitation. When compiling the results of an assessment, each teacher should ask themselves: What does this assessment tell me about my teaching? Who has my way of teaching worked well with? Who should I change my strategy with?

Many students could predict for themselves what they will get on an exam, he notes. Do the exercise to see. The exam itself therefore does not teach the pupil much about himself, but it does give the teacher a lot of information. It is the feedback he gets on the impact of his teaching.

Professor Hattie also believes that future teachers should have the opportunity to be introduced to this way of seeing things from their initial training.

Publicize the expertise of teachers

So that “what works” spreads in all school environments, he invites pedagogical leaders to identify in their schools these teachers who have a strong impact on their students and to invite them to share their expertise. These teachers must be highlighted. They exist in every environment, they must have the opportunity to be recognized and to positively influence their colleagues. For this, however, a climate of trust, where the “real things” can be said among colleagues, must first be established. It's not easy, but the impact is impressive. 

In conclusion, Professor Hattie praised the professionalism of teachers who have transformed their practice since the start of the pandemic. “They should be named Personality of the Year! Some teachers were completely unfamiliar with technology, but they adapted for the good of their students. This is proof of their competence and their central role. "

In a future article, we continue the report of this particularly rich conference, by addressing the valuation of progress before that of success. To be continued!

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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