A moment of collective efficacy

What would it look like if your school plan was alive and represented in much of your day to day work? That would be a stark contrast to many of my teaching days. When the “plan” lived in a binder that came out once a year. I chuckle at the imagery of pulling out a dust covered book with cobwebs like finding a hidden treasure. But what if it was different? Well, at Charlotte Central School it is different. Here’s their moment of collective efficacy.

A plan worth doing!

One of the cornerstones of a Tarrant Institute partnership is having a school plan. A plan that represents teacher voice and above all else, is worth doing. It’s these plans that increase the moments of collective efficacy for faculty and staff. According to Hattie (2016) teacher collective efficacy has an effect size of 1.57. It’s safe to say that is significant. So what is teacher collective efficacy?

“When teachers believe that together, they are capable of developing students’ critical thinking skills, creativity, and mastery of complex content, it happens! Collective teacher efficacy (CTE) refers to a staff’s shared belief that through their collective action, they can positively influence student outcomes, including those who are disengaged and/or disadvantaged” Jenni Donohoo

Collective Teacher Efficacy: The Effect Size Research and Six Enabling Conditions (2017)

Back to the plan

In addition to wanting the plan to be alive and well, it should be focused and concise. Action plans are typically the worst offenders. Fifteen actions steps each with five components. Sound familiar? That’s not realistic. Even under the best circumstances. So what could it look like?

The faculty at Charlotte Central School have been working towards five central goals.


A plan worth doing, right?

Building the moment

Sometime in November, I asked the faculty to think about bringing some work to look at. Not a ton of direction but folks seemed to be nodding and indicating that my ask was okay. Then December happened and things got busy. Nothing out of the normal. In the background co-principal, Jennifer Roth, had been wondering how to better utilize the professional development space. Enter the Learning Wall.

Kudos to Jen as this is purely her idea. What would it look like to have our collective work and celebrations represented in the same space we gather and collaborate? Jen had typed of the school’s goals and laminated them on the wall. We crafted a simple email to the faculty to bring some piece of learning that connected to one of the goals. That’s it! Then the magic happened.

Email to teachers
A simple email about the day’s faculty meeting

If you build it they will come.

I had set up in the same space where the faculty gathers and fired off the quick email above. Then it started! Faculty began popping in placing their artifacts under the goal it related to. One by one, throughout the day, people stopped to look at what others had bought while dropping off their work. As an observer, this is impressive. It was clear they had stuff to share.

Books, models, poster paper, assignments, student work and a big bag of snacks!!! Yes, snacks were an artifact with a powerful story. The evidence was everywhere. If I ever had a doubt (which I did not) that Charlotte had made tremendous steps toward their plan, the learning wall now told their story.


Then it happened!

Faculty meeting started as usual. Announcements, Bright Spots and Belly Flops. etc… Shout out to Learning Lab for that one.

Title slide of faculty presentation Announcements slide

Full presentation here

We started with one simple question. Would anyone like to share?


The Moment had begun

With the usual awkwardness of deciding who was going to go first the stories began. The faculty shared powerful examples and stories focused on student success. They spoke with emotion highlighting what young adolescents are capable of. The moment of collective efficacy was underway.

The Learning Wall

We had simply planned on folks sharing. But it went far beyond that. Lightbulbs were going off left and right. Ideas generated, Praise given. Can I come to your classroom and see you do that? Can you share that with me? I’d like to use that in our…… Yup, it was a proud moment, for sure.


Have you ever not wanted a faculty meeting to end?

That’s how it felt. The wall now had evidence of everyone’s hard work. We could now see it in totality.  A massive success. And we only asked folks to bring one artifact!


So, what’s next?

Enter students! The thinking is to share these goals with the students and ask them for evidence and feedback? Stayed tune folks!


Imagine your school plan was alive? Imagine what it could do?










Scott Thompson

Educator, Student advocate, husband, father, adventurer, outdoor enthusiast, cook, traveler, and former North American Nerf Golf Champion.

What do you think?