One of the benefits of working at different schools is the opportunity to notice patterns and see what practices bring out the best in students and the instructional practices that do not.
I can now predict with 99.9% accuracy the academic achievement of a classroom or school without ever stepping foot on campus. I have listed the telltale signs below:
1) If a teacher shows up to training and has nothing to take notes with, then there is a 99% chance that their class is underperforming.
The teachers who show up with nothing to take notes with are publicly positioning themselves as unwilling to learn. If teachers are grading papers, etc. during training, they send a clear message to their colleagues and the presenters that they expect to learn nothing new, know everything they need to know, and are comfortable in their comfort zone.
Taking notes, asking how and why questions, and seeking to understand a topic better to support students will always increase their performance.
2) The second telltale predictor of an underperforming class or school is teachers who respond to new insights and information by saying, “My kids can’t do that.”
There are many things that students can’t do yet, which is why they come to school. When a teacher says my kids can’t do that, they show they have little faith in their ability to teach their students how to do that. They often do not believe their students are capable of learning and will rarely put forth the effort required to help their students achieve new heights. Why bother if it won’t make a difference?
By asking, “How can I get my kids to do that?” Teachers position themselves to learn techniques, strategies, and subtle shifts in questioning that will move their students forward. They show a willingness to learn. If the teachers are learners, the students are learners, too.