Teachers Make a Difference – What is the research evidence?

John Hattie

My journey this morning takes me from identifying the relative power of the teacher, to a reflection the qualities of excellence among teachers, and dwells mainly on a study undertaken in the classroom of America’s very best teachers.

My search is driven by the goal of ascertaining the attributes of excellence – because if we can discover the location of these goal posts, if we can understand the height of the bar of the goal posts, we then have the basis for developing appropriate professional development, the basis for teacher education programs to highlight that which truly makes the difference, the basis for extolling that our profession truly does have recognisable excellence which can be identified in defensible ways, and the basis for a renewed focus on the success of our teachers to make the difference.

It has been noted in the USA in recent years, it is by such a focus on the attributes of excellent teachers that more faith is being restored in the public school system – which has taken a major bashing. The typical redress has been to devise so-called “idiot-proof” solutions where the proofing been to restrain the idiots to tight scripts – tighter curricula specification, prescribed textbooks, bounded structures of classrooms, scripts of the teaching act, and all this underpinned by a structure accountability.

The national testing movements have been introduced to ensure teachers teach the right stuff, concentrate on the right set of processes (those to pass pencil and paper tests), and then the best set of teaching activities to maximise this narrow form of achievement (i.e., lots of worksheets of mock multiple choice exams).

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