Collective Efficacy - The Power of Team and Belief

Belief is a powerful factor in achieving any goal, in an situation, and in any organization. Collective efficacy in a school is the perception of teachers that the faculty as a whole can execute courses of action required to positively impact student short, the school sees itself as an effective agent of change. Every great outcome starts with a belief. Research demonstrates collective efficacy in a school has the highest effect size in increasing student achievement. As an educational leader, do you believe in yourself and your team? Do you truly believe that you and your team can positively impact every child every day in your school? Doesn't every child that walks through our doors deserve to have teachers, staff, and administrators that believe in them and believe in themselves to achieve greatness? Does your school (people in the school) believe they are truly effective agents of change for every child every day?

This is evident in the world of athletics almost every day. While it does take some degree of talent to be successful, the greatest teams believe they are going to win and work together to find a way to win. It’s not always the best team that wins, but the team that plays best on that given day. It’s a swagger and attitude the great teams have when they walk in the stadium. Michael Jordan believed he was going to win in everything he did and his teammates believed they were going to win when they were on his team. Belicheck and Patriots (except this year so far) have always found ways to win and be successful….the Patriots Way. The “U” had this type of swagger and attitude when Ray Lewis was a linebacker there and under Coach Jimmy Johnson. Why is it that a new coach comes in to a program, with the same players as the previous year, and they win big instead of performing like they did the year before? Why is it that a head football or basketball coach wins at a high level at different places consistently and others don’t win anywhere? They know how to build a great team by getting everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction, along with getting them to believe they can and will win….that they are supposed to win.

In education, we’ve always been looking for the magic solution to improving schools and increasing student achievement. We’ve made teaching both an art and a science. Like many things in education, we’ve complicated the process for success repeatedly over the years. In actuality, it’s very simple. Teach the right thing that’s going to be assessed, try to engage kids while facilitating instruction and let them know you care, figure out what they know and don’t know, and then try to help them learn the things they don’t know to a great degree…..but everything starts and is founded on belief and attitudes. Everything we do in life is about belief and attitude.

The biggest part of being successful and seeing ALL students achieve at a high level comes down to collective efficacy…..the belief that we can make a difference for every child that walks through our doors each day. John Hattie’s Visible Learning Research quantified the effect or impact size on student learning of almost everything we do in education. John Hattie says “the major argument underlying powerful impacts in our schools relates to how we think! It is a set of mind frames that underpin our every action and decision in a school; it is a belief that we are evaluators, change agents, adaptive learning experts, seekers of feedback about our impact, engaged in dialogue and challenge, and developers of trust with all, and that we see opportunity in error, and are keen to spread the message about the power, fun, and impact that we have on learning.” (Visible Learning Teachers, p.159) Teachers and school leaders who develop these ways of thinking are more likely to have major impacts on student learning.

if you believe you can or you believe you can't, you're right!

The top three factors identified through over 1,500 meta-analyses of the impact of classroom actions on student learning all were based on beliefs and attitudes: (1.) Collective teacher efficacy, (2.) Student self-reported grades, and (3.) Teacher estimates of achievement. Self-efficacy was also in the top 10 factors. Team members' confidence in each other's abilities and their belief in the impact of the team's work are key elements that set successful school teams apart. Success lies in the critical nature of collaboration and the strength of believing that together, administrators, faculty, and students can accomplish great things. This is the power of collective efficacy. When you put all of the potential factors and methods of improving student achievement on the table, attitudes and beliefs are the most powerful determinants of success. I just happened to run across the movie “Miracle” yesterday about the 1980 USA Hockey team beating the Soviet Union in the Olympics. The key element that Coach Brooks pushed was team and getting everyone giving everything they had to the success of the group. They didn’t have enough talent to win on talent alone and honestly were probably not the better team based on talent, but they were the team that played the best that day and played the best as a team that day. That’s what it takes for any organization or team to be successful.

Our mission and vision is simple…..”Commitment to Excellence”, “Every Student, Every Day.” You’t can’t commit to the vision of our school without believing that we can make a positive difference for every single child that walks through our front doors. While we have strategic commitments that outline what we are dedicated to in school, it all goes back to the vision of “Every Student, Every Day” in that we believe we are the change agents that will make a positive impact for every student every day and the belief that our team can collectively accomplish this goal. This is our “educational swagger!” To many people 1.57 is just a number, but to the great teams and great schools it’s a team commitment to success and the belief that we will collectively find a way to be successful. It’s the embodiment of leadership’s vision for the school and the most efficacious way to win. Don’t overcomplicate the process of success in schools, it all starts and is grounded in the belief that the team is supposed to be successful and will collectively find a way to win!