If you work with kids, it can sometimes feel like we have too many factors out of our control.
For students who struggle, there can be so many influential pieces, and finding the right things to do can seem near impossible.
If you’re having a hard time making sense of it all, you should look at this meta-analysis by John Hattie.
Hattie took 195 factors, and did a meta-analysis to determine their effect sizes on student achievement.
What he found might surprise you.
Ranking the highest, was “teacher estimates of achievement”, which shows how impactful our expectations of our students can be.
Also ranking in the top half included factors like “cognitive task analysis”, “self questioning”, and “teaching problem solving.”
Interestingly enough, factors that have very low effect sizes included “whole language”, “student control over learning”, and “ability grouping.”
What can we take away from this? Several things.
What we expect from our students matters.
Pushing our students to solve interesting problems, think for themselves, and “be meta” as they are learning will make them more likely to succeed in school.
Vague instruction, like teaching students to “guess” at words without paying explicit attention to sounds and word parts rarely works for students who struggle.
Putting students in ability groups without considering the reason they are struggling in the first place will do them a disservice.
They might not always know it, but kids want us to push them to do things that feel scary, new, and uncomfortable.
This is often the most compassionate thing we can do, even though it might not feel like it.
They need us to lead, guide, and challenge them.
So this year, let’s focus on what really matters.