You can measure the positive impact a teacher has on a child by the stories they tell.
My family attended a funeral a few days ago for our sweet 83 year old neighbor. The service was beautiful as friends and family members shared stories of the remarkable impact our neighbor and her devoted husband had on so many people in our community. Our girls were in awe of the stories told and grateful they had the opportunity to enjoy time with her as well; however, there was one story that created great emotion for all of us.
Our neighbor was a teacher for four years in the 1950s. One of her students stood up directly in front of us and shared a story, addressing the crowd with her maiden name. With a quivering and tearful voice, he shared how much she encouraged him, believed in him, and impacted his career direction. Our neighbor was his fourth grade teacher and it was evident the emotions of this positive impact still remains. As I reached for more tissues, I was reminded of the joyous demeanor she displayed when she shared her experiences as a teacher.
Hattie (2015) defines impact within the Visible Learning mantra know thy impact with four questions:
- Is the impact valid?
- Is the impact equitable?
- How great an impact are you seeking to achieve?
- What teacher practices are most related to student learning?
I will never know what test scores revealed about her student’s learning; however, I can be certain that our neighbor’s principal could answer yes to the first two questions and the third question could be answered this way, high achievement beyond or own expectations. The fourth question connects me to the formative assessment process. Our on going instruction is founded on the evidence we have about our students’ learning as the purpose of assessment is to guide instruction. I can only assume the guidance and instruction received by this student provided him with continued success. The unequivocal impact in her classroom was revealed in her student’s life and shared in a powerful and reflective story. As Hattie shares, almost everything in education works, but is it working sufficiently above the average of all possible influences?
What does success look like in your school or in your classroom? Are you leading better than your best? Is your leadership good or is it great?