Episode 9: Collective teacher efficacy

In this three-part episode, SLI Director Joanne Jarvis speaks with Dr Jenni Donohoo on collective teacher efficacy – what it is, how individual efficacy is related to the development of collective efficacy, and its practical benefits in schools.

Part 1

INTRO: School leaders play a vital role in providing every student in NSW public schools with a great education and the best start in life. They have a positive impact in classrooms and on their staff; they guide teacher development and engage their communities. Here at the NSW Department of Education's School Leadership Institute, our mission is to support all NSW public school leaders by providing world class, evidence-informed leadership development programs and resources.

Our podcasts will explore the key issues and challenges of school leadership. Hosted by Joanne Jarvis, the director of the School Leadership Institute - tune in and listen to our guests and colleagues share their expertise, insights and wisdom on leading with purpose and impact. Welcome to our Leadership in Focus series.

JO: Hello and welcome to episode nine of the Leadership Conversations Podcast Series. I'm Joanne Jarvis and I'm the director of the NSW Department of Education's School Leadership Institute. There is so much to explore on this topic that we've decided to create a three part series. Today we will be discussing collective teacher efficacy. With me today is Dr. Jenni Donohoo. Jenni is a five time bestselling author and professional learning facilitator with more than 25 years experience in leading school improvement.

Jenni works in school districts across the globe, supporting high quality professional learning designed to improve outcomes for all students. As a director of the Jenni Donohoo, Centre for Collective Efficacy. Jenni has been recognised internationally as an educational thought leader. She has a Ph.D. in educational studies and has taught in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools. Jenni is the author of numerous articles and books.

Her most popular book is entitled Collective Efficacy - How Educators and Beliefs Impact Student Learning. It's a real privilege to have you join me today as we discuss this important topic, Jenni.

JENNI: Thanks Joanne. It's a privilege to be here and I'm pleased to be able to contribute to the Leadership Conversations Podcast series, especially on the topic of collective teacher efficacy.

JO: Thank you. So it's let's start by unpacking the idea of efficacy, Jenni. Could you outline for us what collective efficacy is and why it is so important?

JENNI: First and foremost, it's a belief. It's not a program, it's not an initiative, and it doesn't come in a box or a kit. It's a mindset. It's the way we think about the impact of what we do every day.

Researcher, Megan Tschannen-Moran defined it perfectly when she described collective teacher efficacy as “the belief that teachers in a given school make an educational difference for their students over and above the educational impact of students’ homes and communities.”

JO: So why does efficacy matter?

JENNI: Efficacy matters because as Albert Bandura’s research demonstrated – collective efficacy beliefs impact not only how teams think but also how they feel, motivate themselves, and behave. Experiments and real-world events demonstrate that efficacy beliefs influence whether people and teams think radically or strategically. Bandura also noted that efficacy beliefs influence optimistic or pessimistic thinking, what courses of action teams pursue or goals they set and their commitment to them. Efficacy beliefs also determine how long teams will persist in the face of obstacles.

JO: So what are the stronger consequences of efficacy then?

JENNI: Well, stronger efficacy results in greater resilience, effort and persistence on the part of teachers. Even when faced with difficult challenges, the higher collective teacher efficacy, the greater the impact. When teams of teachers lack efficacy, they tend to give up more easily because they don't believe that their efforts will amount to much.

In research, in my own experience, demonstrates in schools where collective efficacy is firmly established, there are a number of positive consequences, including greater professional satisfaction on the part of the faculty and ultimately better outcomes for our students.

JO: So it's not a new concept?

JENNI: No. The research dates back decades, but there are still many educators who are unfamiliar with the concept or are unaware of the strength of the evidence.

According to John Hattie’s Visible Learning Synthesis of Meta-analyses – collective teacher efficacy is the number one factor that influences student achievement. That’s why it’s so important that educators understand what it means and how to achieve it.

JO: Absolutely. Thank you. So how is one's individual efficacy related to the development of collective efficacy?

JENNI: Individual efficacy, of course, refers to an individual teacher’s belief in their ability to carry out what is needed to support high levels of learning for their students. Efficacy beliefs are situational specific. So, for example - a teacher might have a strong sense of efficacy in his or her ability to teach algebra while also having a weakened sense of efficacy to teach - let’s say - persuasive writing effectively. Or a teacher might have a strong sense of efficacy to engage students in a face-to-face learning environment but a weaker sense of efficacy for engaging students online.

There are several studies that have demonstrated a significant and positive relationship between teachers’ self-efficacy and collective efficacy. For example, in 2001, Goddard and Goddard – out of Ohio State University were the first to explore how collective efficacy was related to teacher efficacy and they concluded that teacher efficacy was higher in schools where collective efficacy was strong. And since then, there have been additional empirical studies that look at the fact that collective efficacy predicts teacher self-efficacy, has since been provided by several researchers in a variety of locations and settings.

But I think it’s difficult to suggest the direction of the relationship. I would imagine it’s bidirectional. That self-efficacy predicts collective efficacy as well.

JO: So, individual teachers with an efficacious mindset, are more likely to have a positive impact on student learning when they teach within an environment of collective efficacy. As you noted in your book, this has implications for the way leaders create those conditions.

JENNI: Yes - the sources that influence efficacy judgements are the same for both the individual and the collective. This is based on the work of Educational Psychologist Albert Bandura. I mentioned his name just a few minutes ago. Bandura coined the term ‘collective efficacy’ and he did many studies both inside and outside of schools to investigate the relationship between confidence and achievement. Bandura spent most of his career at Stanford University and passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 95. He is one of the most cited educational psychologists of our time.

So, when we think of those sources he identified four sources that shape efficacy beliefs. Firstly, mastery experiences or meeting with success on something we perceive as challenging is the number one source of efficacy shaping information for both individuals and for teams. It’s the most potent source because it’s based on a first-hand experience. When individuals and/or teams meet with success and interpret that success through a growth mindset, their efficacy is enhanced.

The second source that individuals and teams draw upon when forming efficacy judgements are vicarious experiences. When they see others who are faced with similar circumstances meet with success, they start to think – well if they did it – perhaps we can too.

The third source that contributes to efficacy beliefs is when we’re persuaded by a credible and trustworthy other. In other words, someone convinces us we have what it takes – and the fourth source that shapes efficacy beliefs are positive feelings – our feelings contribute to efficacy judgments. When we feel good or satisfied or content, those feelings enhance efficacy. But those negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and fear – for example – tend to weaken efficacy.

JO: I think the way you’ve described those 4 sources is really useful to think about efficacy and the origins of efficacy. To sum them up again for our listens we're talking about mastery experiences; vicarious experiences; being persuaded by a credible or trustworthy other; and our own positive feelings. So, why is it important for school leaders to understand these?

JENNI: Well, I think it's important for school leaders to understand how individuals and teams form efficacy judgements. That is how they come to interpret what they're capable of if school leaders aspire to strengthen efficacy those sources become important information for us to understand.

JO: What are the consequences of collective teacher efficacy in a practical sense? So, what I’m suggesting is if we’re saying it’s important for individuals and teams to form these judgments, what would they be seeking in a practical sense as a result of achieving those conditions or creating those conditions?

JENNI: That’s a great question and I wondered the same thing myself so a few years ago, and so I conducted a literature review and published an article entitled - Collective Efficacy Research: Productive Patterns and Behaviour and Other Positive Consequences. What I learned is that there is a wealth of research that demonstrates several positive consequences and helps to explain why collective efficacy has such a high impact on student achievement in schools.

For example, in schools where efficacy is strong - teachers are more likely to involve parents in their child’s education in meaningful ways, exclusion is used less widely as a sanction for problem behaviour, and teachers also have more positive attitudes toward including students with special education needs in mainstream classrooms. And of course, we know that all these things also have or make a positive difference for our students. The bottom line is that with a highly efficacious faculty – evidence-based strategies are more likely to be implemented in schools.

JO: What about links to things like well-being and student self-efficacy?

JENNI: Yes, empirical studies also demonstrate that when collective efficacy is firmly established, teachers report greater job satisfaction and professional well-being, there is an increased commitment to teaching, and more positive attitudes toward professional learning.

And for me, most importantly - in schools characterised by collective efficacy, educators are more likely to have high expectations of their students and they build student’s self- efficacy by convincing students that they can do well in school. Isn’t that so important? For many of us, that is why we chose this profession.

School leaders know that ‘things’ don’t work in isolation in schools and classrooms and the positive consequences that result from a strong sense of teacher efficacy help to explain its impact.

JO: I am also realty interested in how school leaders can intentionally shape the conditions to build collective teacher efficacy. Could you talk to us a little bit about that as well?

JENNI: Absolutely. And you know, when I think of collective efficacy because it’s a belief system I would categorise as an adaptive challenge. You know because it requires a shift in thinking, paradigm, a shift in roles and relationships and beliefs and those are characteristics of adaptive challenges in schools. For an adaptive challenge, there is really no clear-cut playbook. But I do have some ideas based on research. My concern early on was once John Hattie announced his update on collective teacher efficacy was positioned at the top of all the influences, I heard a lot of claims that basically everything under the sun is a way to enhance efficacy. I would see conference programs where there were breakout sessions where you could enhance efficacy through X, Y and Z. A number of new book titles making similar claims and even a lot of social media posts. One of my favourites was a game of ‘humans, hungry, hungry hippos’ and the hashtag was ‘what a great to build collective efficacy’. So, my concern was what does the research demonstrate? And I looked to the research to learn what are the antecedents of collective teacher efficacy and through that research identified 5 what I call ‘enabling conditions’ that if these are present in our environment they are more likely to lead to a strengthened sense of efficacy in schools. So will just briefly share what are those five enabling conditions are.

JO: Sure! That would be fabulous.

JENNI: Okay, empowered teachers - there is a clear and strong relationship in the research between teacher leadership and collective teacher efficacy. And so for me, it boils down to finding, we need to find ways to empower teachers. One of my favourite quotes comes from Michael Fullan and Andy Hargraves in their book, Professional Capital. They say “successful and sustainable change can't be done to or even for teachers. It can only be accomplished by and with them.” And so if we find ways to empower teachers that will help to build their efficacy.

JO: It's a wonderful quote.

JENNI: Isn’t it? I really, really enjoyed their book, Professional Capital. The second enabling condition is where teachers have more knowledge about each other's work and where they agree about what constitutes effective pedagogy and you know where they have it - we call it the cohesive teacher knowledge, where we have more intimate knowledge about what goes on inside each other's classrooms.

JO: It makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

JENNI: I think so. And the third is where there is consensus on goals and where teachers have a say in what those goals are. And, you know, when we think about goals in education, I think it's often an exercise in compliance but if we really use those goals and keep them in the forefront and refer back to them when making decisions and monitor progress toward them, I think that we can capitalise on goals as a way to improve our school improvement work. So the fourth is structures in place for teachers to engage in reflection and problem solving. When teachers come together to identify dilemmas of practice and then determine solutions together, it enhances collective efficacy.

And the final is supportive leaders. And this is where leaders show concern for their staff and leaders who help to buffer external demands and ensure teachers have the materials and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. And where leaders provide support to teachers in carrying out their duties effectively.

JO: You've actually highlighted the conditions that enable leaders to approach the adaptive challenge that you described earlier on.

JENNI: Exactly. It's like an inquiry really into our practice and trying things and reflecting back to it at work. And if it did great and what's our next step? And if it didn't, then what do we need to do differently?

JO: Wouldn't we all like to work in an environment that has conditions that shape that kind of thinking? Thank you, Jenni.

That concludes part one of our three part series on collective teacher efficacy. And I'm going to take this opportunity to also direct our listeners to visit the School Leadership Institute's Leadership Learning Resources, which are available to all New South Wales Department of Education Staff.

But also visit your website at www.jennidonohoo.com or follow you on Twitter, now known as X, and your handle is @Jenni_Donohoo.

Also visit the School Leadership Institute website for further resources for all of our school leaders and you can Google that quite easily. So thank you for listening.

Part 2

JO: Hello and welcome to part two of episode nine of the Leadership Conversations Podcast series. I'm Joanne Jarvis and I'm the Director of the NSW Department of Education’s School Leadership Institute. In this episode, we're continuing our discussion on collective teacher efficacy and teacher collaboration with Dr Jenni Donohoo. So, Jenni, tell us a bit about your story and why you became so interested in teacher collaboration and professional growth.

JENNI: Well, I am a former classroom teacher and early in my career, I found it valuable to partner with my colleagues.

Teachers are often asked to change things with the introduction of new standards or curriculum – teachers have to re-work lesson plans and consider the effectiveness of strategies they use in their classrooms. While teaching is and can be extremely rewarding - teachers work long hours and school days can sometimes be hectic and some work environments can be particularly challenging. Teaching is complex work.

It’s hard to fathom doing the complex work of teaching alone. It’s hard to imagine success or greater professional satisfaction and well-being if we do all this work in isolation.

In the case of some of the problems of practice of teaching and learning, the quality of solutions is enhanced by collaborating with others, even while teaching can be (and usually is) conducted independently, when teachers collaborate with others - it results in better outcomes.

JO: So, how have your own experiences informed this view?

JENNI: In my experience, intentional teacher collaboration has many benefits. When teachers lean on each other for support and rely on each other in interdependent ways, it allows them to build more meaningful relationships and as a result, teachers feel less lonely and less isolated. I remember being in my classroom, you know, my first year and spending a lot of time, including the recesses in.

My colleague invited me into the staff room one day. And, you know, just having that feeling that you're less lonely and isolated really makes a difference. When teachers collaborate, morale is increased, they generate knowledge and shared understandings, and realise greater impact. By working together, teachers can increase their individual and collective efficacy and create better learning experiences for students.

JO: Absolutely. So what do you say is the relationship between teacher collaboration and collective efficacy?

JENNI: Well, in my own experience, a clear and strong relationship between those two ideas. But we can also look to research. And there's an interesting study that was conducted by Roger Goddard and his colleagues. And actually, they were interested in finding out how leadership impacts what teachers do to become more effective. And they argued that school environments are more productive when principals work collaboratively with teachers to develop collective expertise.

And they were really specifically interested in the relationship between instructional leadership, teacher collaboration and collective efficacy and how that relationship impacted student learning. So in their study, they noted that strong instructional leadership can serve to influence collective efficacy indirectly by setting the normative expectations for frequent and formal and productive teacher collaboration around instructional improvement, and by promoting a culture of collaboration focused on instructional improvement, principals have the potential to support school improvement in ways that positively influence teachers efficacy beliefs and thus promote greater student achievement.

JO: What are the most important things that school leaders can do to create a culture of effective collaboration, in your view?

JENNI: Well, I think one of the most important things a school leader can do to create a culture of effective collaboration is to find ways to increase interdependencies amongst teachers. There are two ways I might suggest starting with engaging teams in setting interdependent goals. Interdependent goal setting is a process of deciding and setting goals together through observing, listening, and prioritising student learning needs.

And of course, don't get me wrong, teachers can have independent goals. That was actually my goal in my first year out based on feedback from my principal. Or a teacher might work toward asking more open ended questions. And those individual goals are often related to performance appraisals.

But I suggest that to capitalise on collaboration, leaders help teacher teams set interdependent goals. I have an example for you from a grade two group of teachers that I worked with recently in Sarasota, Florida. There were three classroom teachers and a learning support teacher, and they were concerned about students ability to recognise patterns in math. And so they said an interdependent goal.

I'm not sure if I remember it exactly, but I think it was something like "All grade 2 students will be able to identify, extend, and create repeating, growing, and shrinking patterns by the end of the first quarter." - Was something like that. It was like notice that with that goal, that interdependent goal really implies collective action and shared responsibility.

JO: Yes, I can see how powerful that would be rather than individual teachers doing their own thing.

JENNI: Yeah and I think principals can support teams in setting interdependent goals by establishing a sense of purpose for the work, engaging teams in analysing data on the learning progress of all students, and encouraging teams to reflect on what they are trying to achieve with students and how they are trying for that goal. Principals can encourage teams to assume responsibility for achieving interdependent goals.

JO: It's such an important role that a principal has to to demonstrate their own educational expertise in a way that nurtures and nourishes the professional learning of the teachers on their staff, isn't it?

JENNI: Absolutely. And when we think of those interdependent goals, everyone's contributions and efforts are needed to achieve them. And in that sense, collaboration is strengthened.

JO: What's the second type of independence?

JENNI: So the second type is through task interdependence. And that really refers to how well connected teachers are based on the tasks that they engage in while working collaboratively. And some tasks require very little interdependence and tasks which require a high degree of interdependence, on the other hand, really require teachers to draw on each other's experiences and expertise and pull ideas and methods and materials, for example.

JO: Hmm. Can you give us an example of a task?

JENNI: Sure. A good example of a task that requires very little interdependence would be event planning, not just contrast. That was something that requires more interdependence. And when we think of planning for events like a community math night, teachers usually take on individual roles and assignments, and perhaps one teacher might create a community invitation, while another might gather the manipulatives and yet another teacher might take on the task of ordering snacks and beverages.

While those coordinated efforts are important. In this example, then, to help ensure greater efficiency, interdependence is reduced when teachers approach tasks with the intent to really divide and conquer. But on the other hand, tasks which require a high degree of interdependence, help to strengthen efficacy. And so returning to that example from the grade two team of teachers in Sarasota, Florida, Florida sorry teachers collaborated really to design and deliver and debrief lessons.

And they were looking at that issue of patterning, the students ability to create patterns. And so they came together and built a lesson, you know, pulling on each other's experiences and resources. And after collaborating on that lesson, one person volunteered to teach it while the others came in to observe, and they were there to observe the students misconceptions or ‘aha’ moments.

And after that they built a lesson. They'd gone in and observed, they'd made some notes, and then they’d come together to tweak the lesson before the others go ahead and teach it themselves. So I remember sitting with those teachers and I asked them, ‘How did your students benefit from your collaboration?’ And one teacher, who was brand new in the profession shared this quote. She said, ‘When other others shared what they had their students doing. In my head, I thought, my kids can't do that. But now I have realised otherwise.’ And so I felt that that was a real moment of vulnerability where she was sharing that she had kind of low expectations of her kids. And in building those lessons together, I think she had she was a bit nervous. But by observing others in and engaging in these collaborations, she changed her expectations from low to high. And I thought that was pretty important moment for the team.

JO: That's a it's a really powerful example. What you've really highlighted in that response is whilst it's important that teachers are cooperative and coordinate events, for example, together, if you really want to improve the quality of teacher collaboration, it's important to find ways to increase interdependence amongst teachers.

JENNI: Absolutely. And with that brand new teacher, she went on to say that she felt more confident now contributing to that joint lesson planning. So she, you know, had an increase in efficacy through their work together.

JO: If you were a leader in a school where the conditions for strong relational trust and high morale are not present, where would you start in order to develop a culture of effective collaboration, Jenni?

JENNI: I think you start with being curious and showing curiosity and genuine curiosity. When schools are led by inquisitive leaders, it often results in greater implementation of research based practices, and it goes beyond modelling it. It's important to help others articulate questions to their dilemmas of practice and curiosity. Is having a strong desire to learn or know something. And when school leaders help teachers identify what they are curious about, it really results in greater reflection.

And when teachers are curious, they are more likely to actively seek out challenges and new experiences. And of course, we know that that will lead to better outcomes for our students.

JO: Do you have a preferred approach to embed curiosity into school culture?

JENNI: Well, I think appreciative inquiry is an asset-based approach that utilises questions to help teams uncover existing strengths, advantages, or opportunities in their schools and classrooms. I've seen that work really well when teachers come together to engage in joint problem solving. And that collaboration then becomes beneficial and advantageous. And it's when teachers get added value and learning alongside their colleagues that engagement becomes more desirable for them.

They want to collaborate. And when teachers are getting something practical and gaining knowledge and skills that they can then apply in their classrooms to make a difference for their students, it's where that's happening that teachers are giving in and getting and feeling that their contributions are valued. That is when the notion of burden doesn't exist. It's through this process in which efficacy is strengthened collectively.

JO: And what's the place of courage or vulnerability in that process for you?

JENNI: Yeah, I think it's important really to create that space for true vulnerability by being vulnerable yourself. As a leader, believe it or not, vulnerability is an essential component of effective leadership and to be vulnerable means to be open and honest and acknowledge one's own mistakes. It means inviting questions and feedback and responding non defensively to questions and challenges.

And when we think about the notion of courage, I think that vulnerability is linked to courage leading schools takes a lot of courage. And I hope that listeners are prepared to demonstrate this mindset, having the courage to be vulnerable and to engage in conversations with their faculty about collective impact. Did our students gain essential knowledge, knowledge, understanding, skills? And how do we know and what is our collective impact?

JO: And as you’ve rightly called out, I think school leaders are such courageous people. I deeply admire their work and it's such complex work, and it requires the mindsets of curiosity and courage. If you were in a school where teacher collaboration is already happening and teachers are comfortable with it, but little seems to be changing with regards to teaching and learning in classrooms, what would you do to achieve the necessary breakthroughs?

JENNI: I think first and foremost, it's important to coordinate the use of student evidence. Of student evidence really includes writing samples, reading responses, ethics slips, open ended math problems and problem solving tasks. Any artefact that makes student learning visible in addition to specific artefacts of student learning evidence also includes information gathered through observations and through conversations and helps teachers focus on outcomes.

Linking the work of collaborative teams to student results, both large and small helps teachers see their direct impact, and it helps to up the value they place on this work. It also allows teachers to adjust practices in real time, increasing the likelihood of continued mastery and vicarious experiences.

JO: Back to Bandura’s important work. What does creating that focus require?

JENNI: Well, it requires clarity around learning, clarity around what students need to learn. So the learning intentions need to be explicit and equally important, how students and teachers will know that the learning has happened. So having that clearly articulated success criteria becomes important. And this, however, isn't enough. Teams and formal leaders need time to reflect on outcomes in a manner that allows them to identify what their role was in achieving these results and what they will do in the future to sustain results.

Giving teachers time to identify what they did differently and how their actions contributed to positive outcomes helps them to see their place in the process. When leaders help teachers view outcomes from the perspective of a growth mindset, it really helps to enhance collective efficacy.

JO: And this, as you say, effort-based feedback. What does that sound like?

JENNI: It might sound like something like, I don't know, Our hard work and collaborative efforts have paid off. Look at the progress our students have made. And once teachers realised that it was their combined efforts that produced the improvements in student outcomes, the motivation to continue engaging in joint work becomes strengthened. So that effort-based feedback is important.

JO: Absolutely. What advice would you give to someone who wants to promote teacher collaboration but just doesn't know how to get started?

JENNI: Well, people often say they need to wait until trust is built, and I believe that trust is built through collaboration. A friend and colleague of mine, Steven Katz, and his colleagues, noted that trust is often an outcome of effective collaboration as opposed to an antecedent. And leaders can help teachers build trust while engaging in the work. Effective leaders place trust in others by allowing teachers to lead and shape their professional learning, and only a minimal amount of relational trust is necessary to encourage teachers to take a chance together.

If the overarching environment is a supportive one. So one piece of advice is don't wait. Just go ahead and dive in. Provide the time and space and set the normative expectation that collaboration will focus on instructional improvement.

JO: Have you've got any other advice that you might offer?

JENNI: Yeah. I think a second piece of advice is to become familiar with, and introduce protocols, that can be used to help teachers engage in collaboration. You can find a number of protocols for setting norms and agreements, protocols for examining student work and observation protocols to name a few. There are a lot of them online and protocols really allow teachers to engage in deeper levels of reflection based on evidence, and they help teachers engage in higher levels of thinking and learning that wouldn't normally arise from a typical conversation between professionals.

In my experience, protocols really enable teachers to have opportunities to delve into their collective learning. So I guess my two pieces of advice is don't wait to get started and introduce protocols that will help guide reflective conversations.

JO: Thank you. Great advice, as always. And what has struck me listening to you today, Jenni, as I've heard you respond to some really important questions is just how much you have actually surfaced the School Leadership Institute's leadership mindset. So I think you've touched all of them. Students are at the heart of what we do, deeply interconnected with curious, courage, collaboration, growth oriented and of course, efficacy, which is one of our mindsets and which is one of the reasons why I was so keen to have you as part of the Leadership in Focus podcast series.

So thank you so much. As we wrap up part 2 of our three part series, I invite people to visit your website www.jennidonohoo.com follow you on Twitter, now known as X, @Jenni_Donohoo and of course I urge the Department of Education Staff to visit the School Leadership Institute website and check out all of our resources. Thank you for listening.

Part 3

JO: Hello and welcome to part three of episode nine of the Leadership Conversations Podcast series. I'm Joanne Jarvis and I'm the Director of the NSW Department of Education’s School Leadership Institute. In this episode I’m going to continue our conversation with Dr Jenni Donohoo on Collective Teacher Efficacy, but this time with a focus on efficacy and equity. So Jenni, thank you for joining me again.

JENNI: Thanks Joanne. It’s exciting to delve into the relationship between efficacy and equity.

JO: So let’s start. Do we know if there are any links between a teacher's belief about their students and their efficacy as educators? And does being aware of this have a role to play in trying to address inequity in schools?

JENNI: Teachers theories about students socioeconomic status, race and or ethnicity affect the content and skills teachers choose to teach their beliefs about students ability to learn as well as their beliefs about what they can do to increase student performance. To address the challenges of inequity in education, teachers must perceive themselves to be both individually and collectively capable of delivering effective instruction to underperforming and or disadvantaged students in ways that will results in students better performance and increased academic achievement.

And the more salient teacher's perceptions of the obstacles posed by students demographics their lower their expectations and goals, and, of course, lower expectations results in teachers assigning low level tasks to students and lowering students own expectations about themselves. A teacher's diminished sense of efficacy results in less effort, and a lack of receptiveness to integrating new approaches into their practice. And for these reasons, I firmly believe that individual and collective teacher efficacy must be developed in schools if we want to realise more equitable outcomes in education.

JO: Absolutely Jenni. When we were talking about this part of our series, we were speaking off recording about your own story as a student at school and how important it would have been for you to be immersed in a culture where efficacy was a salient belief by the teachers and leaders in your own setting. And I'm just wondering if you could share that story with me again.

JENNI: Sure. When I was in high school in grade ten, I had grown up all my life in a single family home. But at the age of 15, I ended up living on my own for various reasons. And I think because of my background and my upbringing, teachers' expectations were quite low of me. I remember my counsellor, guidance counsellor suggesting that I go into hairdressing rather than pursue a university degree.

And I also remember a knock on the door one day at my data processing class and I was pulled out of data processing and put into home economics because my grades weren’t good enough and you know, just really low expectations were obvious. I went on out of high school into the workplace and at the age of 21, at three in the morning, I was scraping cheese out of a microwave oven when I had a moment where I knew I needed something more.

And so I applied to university as an adult student and I was able to get in. They hold so many positions for people, you know, I didn't have the grades, of course, coming out of high school, but as an adult student, I was able to get admission into the local university and I started to excel. Really once I started to apply myself and realised that I was capable, and of course I sought out the teachers that really I felt were effective.

I would try to take as many courses with those teachers because I knew that if the teachers were really effective that that I could excel. And that a big difference. And so I think that, you know, the idea of those low expectations, I think had teachers seen my potential and tapped into my interest, that I would have maybe had a different pathway.

JO: Jenni, I remember when you shared that story with me when we weren't recording, and I was struck by the power of the impact on you as a young person at school seeking your own pathway. And what sounds to me like quite challenging circumstances. And I said to you, why don't you share that story and your response as well?

JO: It doesn't have a happy ending in the sense that at that time when I was at school, I can't say, and along came Mr. or Mrs. Smith and saw in me the potential for me to succeed at school despite my circumstances. But for me, what I'm hearing is you have reinforced in my mind, and I hope in the mind of others, the power of efficacy of all of us having an efficacious mindset so that we can impact in a positive way the Jenny Donohoo's in our classrooms.

JENNI: Yes, I couldn't agree more. Thank you for that.

JO: Thank you. Thank you for sharing that powerful story. So, Jenny, is there any research that examines the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and equitable outcomes for students?

JENNI: The first research study that I'm aware of that explored the relationship between collective teacher efficacy and equity was conducted in 2017 by Roger Goddard and his colleagues. They demonstrated that collective teacher efficacy not only fosters higher levels of overall achievement, which was of course what the research has demonstrated and why collective efficacy is at the top of John Hatti's list.

But in their study they demonstrated that collective efficacy also resulted in the reduction of achievement gaps. A co-author of mine in our book, Leading Collective Efficacy Powerful Stories of Achievement, Stephanie Hite and I provide several case studies where we chose the studies in particular because we felt that it was important to provide exemplars through storytelling and that by demonstrating some of those examples that happened in the field, readers might build efficacy vicariously when they see their peers accomplishing great things, and they see that their challenges are similar. They might begin to think, ‘Well, if so-and-so did it, then perhaps we can do it too.’

JO: It basically connects people to the emotional work of teaching, doesn't it? When you build stories into such important topics as efficacy and equity.

JENNI: I do think so. And any examples in the book, they highlight how collective efficacy played a critical role in addressing educational inequities by demonstrating the role that collective efficacy played in closing achievement gaps and their real life example is they demonstrate how through persevering effort, schools and teams were able to overcome the perceived disadvantages associated with low income or a lack of English language proficiency and race and or ethnicity. And that's why stories can be so powerful, because they're based on real life practitioners.

JO: And I'm wondering what the experiences of our listeners are as they listen to this podcast right now and what might be resonating with them.

JENNI: Yeah, and I bet that the school leaders who are listening could share their own experiences where they have led or witnessed success with a particular group of students and thinking about that, that they could probably attribute the positive outcomes to the things or interventions that were put in place by and supported by the adults in the building. So I would really encourage people that are listening to think about those success stories and be willing to to share them with others.

JO: Because surely that would have touched the hearts and minds of hundreds, sometimes thousands of students across their careers. And that's certainly something that they should be incredibly proud of. In terms of promoting and supporting the connection between efficacy and equity, what do you think school leaders can do?

JENNI: Well, as I noted in part two of this podcast series, leaders can model curiosity in supporting teachers. Leaders can become teachers, thought partners in developing deeper understandings of their students and the context in which they are learning. I think it's important to help teachers become inquisitive and ask questions. And I find that the best answers to teachers' questions about equity are those which empower teachers to be very thoughtful as well.

And another important thing that school leaders can do and we've learned these things from the case studies in the book, is to ensure that teams engage with disaggregated data, breaking down student population data into smaller groupings based on characteristics such as English language proficiency, cultural background, gender, for example.

This becomes a useful tool for improving outcomes because the progress and achievement of small groups of students might be otherwise indistinguishable if data are not broken down into subgroups, and that disaggregated data can play a critical role really, in helping teams understand how effective they are in meeting the needs of all the students they serve.

JO: It's a really good example of how teachers can engage with data because we are awash with so much of it and selecting the data that is going to be most informative is sometimes quite challenging.

JENNI: I agree. And by engaging teachers in examining and interpreting disaggregate data, school leaders help to create an awareness and an urgency amongst the staff to figure out ways to address the inequities that they might uncover. And another thing that school leaders can do is to help teams make the link between their efforts and resulting outcomes. I too often hear teams attribute reasons for lack of success to factors that are outside of their influence. And for example, we can't expect much from this group of students because of the neighbourhood from where they come.

And I also, less frequently, but sometimes hear educators attribute reasons or success to these very same factors. For example, our school gets such great results because we're next to that golf course community where the kids have doctors and lawyers for parents. And this line of thinking really makes me very curious. I think that teams need to recognise that what they do really matters.

Despite other influences in the students' lives that challenge their success, leaders can really help teams make the connection between their professional choices and improvement in student outcomes. And by providing feedback that helps teams make the link between their effort and school improvement strategies. Leaders can reshape the narrative in schools. The new narrative empowers the collective, as the faculty realise that a different reality is possible.

And when teams recognise that progress is being made toward their goals, they invest and they put forth greater commitment. And when teams realise that they can make a difference for students, it's easier to commit.

JO: Absolutely. How can collective efficacy across a whole system help address inequity and ensure there is a rising tide to lift all boats, so to speak?

JENNI: By harnessing the power of collective teacher efficacy, schools and districts can confront issues of inequity and raise the achievement of all students. A faculty's lack of collective efficacy results in joint resignation and the maintenance really of the status quo. Individual and collective efficacy must be developed in schools. If we want to realise equity in education and identifying inequity and bringing it out in the open is a necessity that requires the collective efficacy of leaders across the school system.

JO: That is a powerful way to end what has been a pleasure in terms of speaking with you, Jenni, across the three parts of this series on collective teacher efficacy. And I really appreciate the time that you've given to our listeners and look forward to maintaining our connection with you over the years as we explore efficacy is such an important topic for educators across all of our systems. So thank you for joining us today.

JENNI: Thank you very much.

JO: And I once again invite our listeners to visit Jenny's website at www.jennidonohoo.com or follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Jenni_Donohoo. Please visit the School Leadership Institute website for further resources which we have developed to support school leaders in New South Wales. Public Education. Thank you for listening.

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