Collective Teacher Efficacy

June 4, 2019 / by Taj Jensen & Christine Kelly

Collective Teacher Efficacy: A team of individuals sharing the belief that through their unified efforts they can overcome challenges and produce intended results. Effect size: 1.57

For all the non-scientists out there, that means Collective Teacher Efficacy is the number one factor influencing student achievement! That’s twice the effect size of feedback and three times the effect size of socio-economic status. Take a look at Factors Influencing Student Achievement and Their Effect Size.

John Hattie’s research on the impact of various educational practices that influence student achievement has been transformative for the educational system, helping to focus on the most effective interventions and in turn increasing achievement for students. Undeniably, in the world of teaching and learning, developing schools with Collective Teacher Efficacy is worthy of our attention and focused effort. 

What are the critical components of Collective Teacher Efficacy that must be established in order to transform a school from simply fulfilling instructional compliance to engaging in evidence-based, highly effective, instruction? Below are some of the critical components that can contribute to Collective Teacher Efficacy.


To begin, we must embrace “collective” efficacy-- adopting a common language of ”team” where ”we” grow student achievement. We build school beliefs and processes that focus on growth versus proficiency, understanding first, that proficiency cannot be attained without closely monitored growth over time. This sentiment cannot be overstated or emphasized enough. It is the cornerstone of creating a collective belief that “together” we are making an impact. Teachers and students must be able to “see” the results of their intentions. Waiting and hoping for proficiency does not afford that opportunity. It’s human nature to want to see the effect of one’s effort, and immediate data that demonstrates growth and progress allow for that affirmation.

Effective Intervention Systems

Another critical component is understanding that diagnostic data is dynamic and unique to the students participating. Our job is to respond to the learning gaps illuminated by the data and design focused intervention to support students’ mastery of deficit skills/strategies to continue both personal and collective growth.

Responsive Leadership

When constructing Collective Teacher Efficacy, we abandon our feelings of powerlessness due to external conditions (imposed by school districts, politics and home conditions) and focus solely on teachers teaching and students learning. Leaders create conditions within a school which eliminate barriers that impede effective teaching, allowing and supporting teachers to teach and assess purposefully. Leaders build formal processes and routines for consistent reflection and modification of teaching practices. This encourages teachers to reflect with purpose on their own practice while simultaneously building on the reflective learning of their colleagues.

Collective Goal Setting

Building Collective Teacher Efficacy necessitates shifting from stagnant beliefs that hold us to repetitive, flatline progress to believing that we have the capacity to hold high expectations and change outcomes. We accomplish this by leaving nothing to chance, investing in our students by setting attainable goals whose impact is informed by ongoing formative data and embracing our setbacks and failures with grit and resilience. With this, teachers and students alike are actively practicing growth mindset celebrating our mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. Goal-setting cannot be taken for granted, when building Collective Teacher Efficacy. When we (teachers and students) set attainable goals using common language and processes and commit to the effective teaching and/or learning strategies we will use to reach those goals, we invest in our collective learning and achievement growth.

In order to make success for all a reality in our schools, it’s imperative that we leverage those factors that have the greatest impact. Fostering collective teacher efficacy through responsive leadership that nurtures a cohesive, goal-focused staff should be at the center of any strategic plan. We must first believe our students are capable of great things for each of them to realize their unlimited potential!

Topics: Professional Learning, New Teachers, Class Culture, Coaching

Taj Jensen & Christine Kelly

Written by Taj Jensen & Christine Kelly

Taj Jensen. In his 13 plus years as a principal, Taj Jensen has gained the ability to take struggling schools and turn them into thriving, sustainable learning communities. From 2009-2014, Jensen was the leader of Tillicum Elementary in Washington a failing school with 97% receiving free and reduced lunch (general poverty). When he arrived there, achievement was low and the school had been negatively impact by high rates of criminal activity in the surrounding community. However, Jensen was able to turn Tillicum into a National Title I School of Distinction in just five years. At the state level, Tillicum as won a School of Distinction award, among others, for closing the achievement gap and achieving high progress in reading and math. In 2014 Jensen was given the opportunity to replicate his success at Tyee Park – a task that he considers a privilege. In a school where 96% of students participate in the free or reduced lunch program, he understands that basic needs must be met first. On-site dental visits and flu shots, a weekend meal program, after-school tutoring, and adult ESL classes for parents are just some of the ways that Jensen leveled the playing so that students have equal access to education for all students. In just two years Tyee Park was also a School of Distinction. Jensen is currently in his third year at Mann Elementary in the Tacoma Public Schools (3rd largest urban school district in the state), where he is serving a similar demographic and needs as in his previous two schools. While at Mann the school went from a Targeted School (lowest 10% performing) to a School of Distinction (Top 5% in academic growth) in just two years’ time. Jensen is also the co-founder of an educational consulting groups that utilizes a systematic process to acquire a clear picture of each site. The comprehensive process identifies specific strengths and focus areas and initiates an individualized plan based on agreed upon outcomes. Christine Kelly is co-founder of School Turnaround LLC, an Educational Consulting group that supports school districts, school leaders and educators improve student achievement. With over 20 years of teaching, coaching, speaking and professional development experience, Christine continues to work in schools while also sharing her expertise with clients around the country. A strong foundation of data-driven goal-setting has led Christine, her clients and colleagues to both state and national awards and recognition. Christine’s keen ability to lead school reform is evident by her professional success and the success of her clients. Building on strengths within an organization, Christine leads the development of sustainable systems and structures which consistently yield over 150% growth in student achievement. This work has lead five schools through the transformation of student achievement scores in the bottom 5% of the state to student achievement scores in the top 5% of the state. Holding a BA and MA in Education, Christine is also a National Board Certified Teacher. Christine is nationally recognized as a motivational speaker, professional development facilitator and published author.

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