Auckland principal Sarah Martin shared how to measure teacher success with metrics of student impact and agency. Principal Martin talked to Edthena founder and CEO Adam Geller in part 2 of this 4-part series.

Watch the video on metrics for student impact and agency above, or read the transcript below.

Student impact & agency metrics for teacher success

– Welcome to another #PLtogether Lounge Talk. I’m Adam Geller, founder and CEO of Edthena, the video coaching platform for streamlining feedback to teachers. Today, we’re talking with Sarah Martin, she’s the founding principal of Stonefields School in Oakland, New Zealand, and she’s also a trustee in the Stonefields Collaborative Trust. Sarah, thanks so much for joining us to be a part of #PLtogether.

– Thank you very much.

– So, we’ve been talking about the culture in schools, you know, which is of course what’s surrounding the teacher and surrounding the students, but of course, the heart and soul of what’s happening in the school is the learning inside of, well, now maybe the classroom is outside the four walls sometimes, but the learning environment headed up by a teacher. So, I’m curious to talk a little bit together about growing teacher effectiveness and in particular, I know one of the things that you emphasize is the Teaching, Learning and Assessment cycle with your teachers, so maybe start there. Tell us what that is. Did you just, you know, write that down on a napkin one day? or is this, you know, maybe a divine from some academic research out there?

– Yeah, absolutely. So let’s, just start by, talking about the, what we call the TLA, or the Teaching, Learning and Assessment cycle and how then does connect and relate with, much of the research and meta analysis. So if you can imagine a circle, if you like, where at the top being the what of the learning, you know? ask the question, how do I know these kids need this learning at this time? There’s a lot of complexity behind that. So we’ve developed what’s called a local curriculum in New Zealand. We have huge permission from our national curriculum and that’s balanced by both, what’s critical to learn and a capability, soft life skills, if you like, and what’s critical to know. So that funnels into helping our teachers make decisions about the what, of the learning. And then we want our teachers to consider and think about the how, what are the teacher’s strategies that I’m going to employ to cause this particular learning? How am I going to organize for this learning? What level of differentiation might be required for this particular learning? And we’re an innovative learning environment, so we have three teachers working with around 80 learners in a modern learning environment. And then importantly, I think is what we call the reflect part, so it’s the what, the how, and then, the reflect is how do I know I’ve had impact? Did what I set out to teach have I intended or have I got the intended outcomes that I was after? Now if I haven’t, I need to cycle back to that how, and give it another go on in a different way. Or do I come back to the watch to be able to be thinking about the progressions for learning and what’s the next key learning step. So we’ve got, what’s called a best model at Stonefield School, it’s being an effective Stonefield School teacher, and each of the elements underneath the what, how, and reflect, have specific teaching strategies. Let me give you a tangible example, would be like feedback. We know from the research that kids getting feedback is absolutely critical to their success. It has a 1.74 effect size, so highly significant. And under each of those key elements of being an effective Stonefields teacher, we have progressions that support teachers setting goals and how they might move their practice from being, good to great. And those progressions are there to be able to, they’re reflective tools really for teachers to reflect on where their practice is and where they want to grow in and in what aspects of their practice.

– So, I mean, I’m listening to, I’m listening to you describe this process, and I’m mapping it partly to my own experience, having been a teacher in the US system, also to the experience we hear describe by many teachers. And, it almost sounds in a way, that, you know? in the US system, it’s very, what is the lesson plan? What is the lesson plan? What is the lesson plan? And it’s almost like that’s the unit of the, kind of driving force for the teacher. And, it feels like you’re describing something different that’s happening, is kind of like a structural, organizing principle for how learning will be designed and how the learning is assessed, that the effectiveness of the teaching, should I say, on the learning.

– It’s the pedagogical scaffold, wholeheartedly. And I think our view would be in New Zealand, is that teaching is very much an inquiry. And how do we heighten and teachers noticing, recognizing and responding. So something we’ve been really fascinated by is, you know, as a teacher to know if you’ve had impact or not, what are your information needs? What are you actually wanting to gather information about what on that changes what you do tomorrow? because that’s really, you have, or haven’t had impact. Can I give you a tangible example to try and illustrate it a little bit more? We’ve developed, what’s called a slider tool and we simply ask children, it’s a piece of technology that we’ve coded, that asks children how much they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy the learning and how challenged or unchallenged they were. And it plots those kids. It takes them 10 seconds. Now that gives our teachers immediate insight to see who have they hit the sweet spot for, in that particular learning design and who haven’t they, which can help to have further conversations to see if we can get all kids in that top right hand corner, so to speak. So, those little insight tools they’re quite, they can be really quick and in the moment, and how do we embrace the affordance that technology gives us now, to be able to inform actually what a teacher does next and by ways of design and certainly, and teaching. So if you like that, day to day, just happens like the second hand of a clock. I am constantly as a teacher, what these kids need? How am I gonna cause it? Have I been successful? Through you sometimes you stumble across groups of kids, or we’re looking at equity, some of our disadvantaged populations potentially that aren’t sized more likely our hand, that’s more considered, it’s more long-term and an inquiry and a deep dive, into hypothesizing around what might I need to do differently for these groups of children.

– You know, I’m wanting to take us back to that first question I asked, which was, you know, really about driving teacher effectiveness. So, again to, you know, kind of draw the comparison in the United States, we have a variety of tools for, I guess the system decides, has the teacher been effective based on a variety, maybe of assessments or other measures? So what are you using to answer that question of effectiveness? Like how do you, how do you know as a school leader and how the teachers know as teachers, that they’ve been effective? You know, that next level beyond whether or not the student enjoyed the learning, as you said.

– Absolutely, yeah, you bring a valid point. It’s very outcomes driven. So we can correlate our most effective teachers and our highest functioning hub teams, to be fair, the collective efficacy is fundamental in our place with, accelerated shift and learning outcomes. So if I was to look at more traditional measures of reading, writing, and maths our most effective teachers that are growing their practice on these progressions, and they’re all correlated to the metadata, etcetera, around practices that have impact, are very attuned to what that is and working on their practice. But it’s an ongoing continuous inquiry. And often those inquiries are individual, but they can be collaborative inquiries, too.

– Do you have any sort of system that helps teachers know where they are on the, I guess, scale of proficiency for driving their own inquiry?

– Absolutely. So, every year in sitting their inquiry goals, they would be doing some self assessment on these. They like progressions or rubrics, if a better word, about where their practice is and where they’re intending to shift their practice, and to what extent have they got evidence that they have. So we call it appraisal for learning. We want to get away from any hierarchical compliance, that’s more around, how do we continuously learn, continually improve and improve our practice for better outcomes for kids. The other journey would be that we’re very much looking at a balanced view of impact for kids. So, you know, social and emotional aspects of Hauoras, the Maori term in New Zealand for wellbeing. So do we have evidence that we have increased wellbeing alongside some of the traditional areas like reading, writing, math, and science and other areas? Another area where assisting in a bolted toll is around learner agency. We know kids who can drive their learning, know how I’m going, where I’m going and where to next and act of agents. And that learning journey has huge impact from the research. So again, a lot of the tools that we have had to build ourselves because they haven’t been out there to, to just be able to pick off the shelf and use, have been incredibly informative. For example, our agency tool has five elements and that’s a south perception survey for learners where they, we can show shift following certain learning design, to the extent to which the agency has increased around collaboration or their self-awareness or other aspects and domains that are measured and that toll.

– Well, it’s almost time to take a break, but before we do, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask, you’ve been telling us about these tools. Have any of them been released? Can educators who are listening to you talk about them, find out about them on maybe your school website or a blog somewhere? and totally okay if not, I don’t know the answer to this question in advance, but I figured I would ask while we’re still talking.

– Not at all. One of the tools that is very much developed is the Schooltalk app. And that has full purposes. One is to make learning really visible. Two is to increase agency for learners or teacher designers pushed through that, and it brings together that TLA if you like, the design for learning the, how am I gonna cause it? And, have I been successful? So that all happens in that environment. And importantly, partnering with our finery, our families so that they can be as involved in this child’s learning as they chose. So that’s school talk.

– All right, well there, you heard it, go to your favorite search engine. Look for Schooltalk, New Zealand, probably. Sarah, thank you so much for joining us to be part of #PLtogether. If you are watching this or listening to this because a colleague shared it, or you, saw it on social media, and you’re wondering what we’re going to talk about next or who else I’ve talked to, head to for the rest of this interview, as well as many more. Sarah, thanks so much for joining us.

– Thank you

For more interviews with education leaders about student impact and other insights, check out all of our PLtogether Lounge Talks