‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
I like to ponder the above quotation as I have thought learning should always be serious fun and so I asked an expert and here was his response—
‘The major notion of VISIBLE is to help make the invisible more visible. Yes learning is not often visible; yes 80% of what happens in a class a teacher does not see or hear; and much more – so how to resource schools to better understand these essential attributes. The Little Prince is so right – which is why we need to be concerned especially with the big hearts that most teachers have to truly make the difference.’ (Prof John Hattie, in correspondence, 2018)
John Hattie and Klaus Zierer’s, 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning: Teaching for Success (2018) provided a coherent vision to guide reform at Clarkson Community High School (CCHS). Visible Learning research provided a framework for school improvement. The understanding of school vision was a useful focus for the professional development, recruitment and selection of teachers in 2018.
For Hattie and Zierer, teachers’ passion and enthusiasm manifest in ten mindframes. The first three relate to impact, the next two to change and the last five to learning focus. Visible Learning research indicates successful teachers’ behaviour is based on the mindframes. Mindframes demonstrate that teachers are evaluators, change agents, learning experts, and seekers of feedback who are engaged with dialogue and challenge.
The focus of the mindframes is to move from what works to what works best. Research shows 90–95% of what teachers do increases student achievement. Students are learning all the time and sometimes despite the teachers. We need to do better than this.
Visible Learning research tells us WHY some interventions have a greater impact. It shows the difference between low and high impact interventions. The impact has less to do about structures and more to do with teacher expertise. What works best works best with most students. Teachers must know their impact and not simply practise interventions as instructional strategies.
At the start of 2018, teachers at Clarkson implemented one mindframe per week with each class. Teachers revisited their professional learning and school-based understanding of behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. Research on mindframes is data-driven, shaped by empirical evidence.
The focus on mindframes meant classroom management and instructional skills improved. The implementation of motivational factors in an instructional sequence became a clearer priority. Mindframes encouraged teachers to think about their behaviours.
It is teachers’ thinking that is important. How teachers understand their impact and search for feedback to improve learning. The clear focus at CCHS was using mindframes to accelerate students’ learning. A move to what works best in the classroom.
Hattie and Zierer argue that mindframes become visible. They answer the question of what they are doing. They also answer the question of how and why they are doing what they are doing.
Teacher behaviour affects classroom climate. Mindframes encourage teachers to think about how they behave in the classroom. Teachers’ enthusiasm for mindframes was motivational and Visible Learning research generated interest in reform. Hattie and Zierer’s work created a positive momentum as mindframes helped to change teachers’ thinking across CCHS.
Most Australian kids spend about 15,000 hours at school taught by more than 50 teachers. Some teachers make an impact. Some are soon forgotten. Mindframes help to explain why some teachers have greater impact. Measuring impact is important when determining an instructional pathway for each student —
‘One of the most crucial questions is whether teachers want to know about their impact and make it visible. Teachers who have set themselves this goal and are consistently trying to implement it are fundamentally different from teachers who do not ask themselves this question.’ (Hattie & Zierer, p. 2, 2018)
Teachers who ask the question about their impact act intentionally. Intentionality is the capacity to connect conscious thought with intentions and behaviour. Intentionality is significant for those teachers and school leaders who act with conviction for reasons that are irrefutable.
At CCHS, each decision is intentional as the leadership team starts with why. Intentionality is the key to successful learning – ‘It is not enough for teachers to believe their students can succeed and to show them that they care; teachers must also know what they’re doing in the classroom. Or to be more precise: they must know why they’re doing what they’re doing in the classroom.’ (Bryan Goodwin, Simply Better, 2011)
Intentionality is the precursor that underpins intentions—
‘It has been said that change is inevitable, but growth is intentional. If this is true, then intentionality is crucial to becoming a great teacher.’ (Hubbell & Goodwin, 2013)
10 Mindframes for Visible Learning: Teaching for Success was an inspiration. In 2018, a dozen CCHS teachers wrote about their work as classroom practitioners implementing mindframes. Learning Journey 3 builds upon the tradition of research-based improvement at CCHS – http://www.clarksonchs.wa.edu.au/index.php/news-1/principal-1/356-the-learning-journey-update-2018
I am an evaluator of my impact on student learning
I see assessment as informing my impact and next steps
I collaborate with my peers and my students about my conceptions of progress and my impact
Change and challenge
I am a change agent and believe all students can improve
I strive for challenge and not merely “doing your best”
I give and help students understand feedback and II interpret and act on feedback given to me
I engage as much in dialogue as monologue
I explicitly inform students what successful impact looks like from the outset
I build relationships and trust so that learning can occur in a place where it is safe to make mistakes and learn from others
I focus on learning and the language of learning