Excellence with Equity

How Teaching Predicts Agency-Related Factors

February 25, 2016
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Video 8 Author and Harvard professor Ron Ferguson discusses the 7 C’s of Effective Teaching which include Care, Confer, Captivate, Consolidate, Clarify, Challenge, and Classroom Management. He shares information about the impact of each of these areas on student achievement based upon student survey data. He also explores each of the 7 C’s of Effective Teaching at a deeper level.

Video Transcript

[00:00:10] We have what we call the seven Cs of effective teaching. Five of which correspond to support, two of which correspond to press. Support is care, confer...and actually you can read down the margin. So you got care, and then confer, and captivate, and consolidate. And then clarify is the next three lines; clear up confusion, lucid explanations, instructive feedback. And then challenge is the next two lines; require rigor, require persistence. And then you get control, which we've recently renamed classroom management. [00:00:48] A lot of push-back on control, people hate that word control. We can't find another single word that really stands in well, but classroom management is close. Next time you see this, you'll have classroom management will control, and then a couple other things: teasing and the classroom average GPA. [00:01:03] Here, if you just look at this quickly. You look down the margin; this is all what predicts effort. You see effort at the top of the screen over there, which is one manifestation. It's an expression of agency. And the three little stripes in each place here. The three little stripes represent what we got when we ran the analysis; for kids who get A range GPAs is the dark blue; B range GPAs is a light blue; and then the little orangish is C range GPAs. Ran the analysis separately, get pretty much the same pattern for the kids, independent of GPA. [00:01:34] And here, if you look at what most strongly predicts effort in a positive direction, it's captivate, how interesting the teacher makes the lessons. Come down, then you get lucid explanations; how clearly teachers explain things. Then you get instructive feedback; the kind of feedback you get to help you. Then you get require rigor and require persistence. All of those things are contributing to effort. [00:01:58] You just notice that you can clear up confusion, cuts a little bit in the negative direction. And this is analysis where you hold other things constant. So we throw all this data in the computer together, and we have all those things compete with explanatory power. And so it’s holding everything else constant. If teachers jump in and clear up confusion too quickly, you don't need to try as hard. Just sit here, she'll come over and answer it for you soon. Okay and so, I think that's why clear up confusion is undermining effort just a little bit. So we have to be careful to give them some space to figure it out and not jump in and clear up confusion too quickly. [00:02:34] Notice confer is also negative up there. Confer is welcoming student's perspectives, welcoming their points of view in class, but again, this is everything else held constant. So if you're holding constant discussions of clarity, and challenge, and captivate, and care and so on, what are you conferring about? It's probably idle chatter. All right, so it looks like just giving student voice for the sake of giving student voice, you're kind of waiting time and the kids know it. They don't work quite as hard when you're doing that. So confer needs to be about something, that's why, other things equal, it looks like it's cutting negative on this. [00:03:18] Look at help seeking on the other side though. Whereas clear up confusion cut negative for effort, cuts positive for help seeking. I talk about there's nuance in some of these things. Help seeking is also the expression of agency. I need some help, I step out and I get it because I think that may help me. [00:03:35] All right. And so there, you've got all three parts of clarify are coming in strong, and challenge is not coming in at all. It doesn't hurt, it doesn't help. How much you challenge kids does not affect whether they ask for help or not. What affects most strongly why they ask for help is whether you can clarify. Because if you can't clarify, asking for help doesn't pay off very much. [00:04:00] All right, and then up there, care, which probably has to do also with the teachers' attitude and receptivity. Personalization: here, our measure of care has to do with encouragement and emotional support. [00:04:15] We have times when we survey both the students and the teacher in the same classrooms. And again, this is other things equal. I mean, some caring can be expressed through those other things. So I don't want you to leave here thinking care is a bad thing, because I'm holding all those other things constant. Some of my caring is being expressed through those. But holding all those things constant, if I become more emotionally supportive, I may be coddling. Okay, I mean backing off a little bit. [00:04:41] And so on the teachers' description of their own teaching, the teachers who the kids describe as more caring tend not to agree as much; "I'm very strict in the way I manage student behavior. I demand students arrive at my class on time." They tend to agree more, "I spend a few minutes at the beginning of class just interacting with my children, informally" and so on. And so they're a little less strict, okay? And you can say that's fine and you'll accept that. I mean, if my kids know they're loved...because if I were to show you a student behavior self-report, you'd also see, other things equal, more caring leads to a slightly less orderly classroom. Okay, so there's nuisance that I was talking about, and I'm just showing you a little bit of it to give you a sense of the kind of nuance there is. [00:05:34] Okay, the main things on help seeking are care and clarify. Notice control cuts negative. Control is an orderly classroom where kids are on task and respectful. If you've got a disorderly classroom, kids are seeking help less often. Maybe there's not the space or the opportunity to. [00:05:57] Just a couple more. Perceived learning, how much kids believe they've learned. We throw the statement: "In this class, we learn a lot almost every day." So in this class we learn a lot almost every day. We see what predicts there. Compare that to: "This class is a happy place to be," which is classroom happiness. What predicts happiness is different from what predicts perceived learning. Sometimes, we judge whether our class is going well by how happy our kids are. That's not telling you anything at all about whether they're learning anything. [00:06:29] Okay, so the strongest predictor, we started on the side of happiness. Two big bars stand out: care and captivate. If the teacher is connected in a personal way with the kids and is emotionally responsive and makes it really interesting, then it's a happy place to be. Other stuff doesn't matter much. Control is coming in [inaudible 00:06:52]. An orderly classroom where the learning is really interesting and the teacher really connects with us, that's where we're happy. [00:07:01] Where we learn a lot, the strongest three things on perceived learning are consolidate and lucid explanations. The teacher explains things really clearly, and summarizes and links things together, and makes it all coherent for us. Require rigor and require persistence and control are also coming in to some degree. Rigor and persistence either matter not at all, or slightly negative for happy in class. They both matter positive for learning in class. [00:07:28] So you've got a teacher who is demanding that kids think carefully, and try to understand and not just memorize, and explain why they think what they think, that might make them a little less happy even because that's kind of hard. Okay. But at the end of it, they say, "Yeah, we learned something through that experience." [00:07:47] When I have audiences of adults...I had one state. I won't say which state it was, but I had 500 superintendents in the room. And I asked them, "Of the seven Cs, we're going to vote one at a time for which one you think is the strongest prediction of learning." And value-added achievement gains we were talking about. I'll tell you the right answer that we've learned is the strongest predictors of value-added, year-to year achievement gains are challenge and control; the classroom where the kids are being pushed to work hard, to think hard, and stay on task. It's not the happiest classroom necessarily, okay? [00:08:27] About 60% to 70% of the superintendents in a room voted for care. Care is a weak predictor, and actually even negative sometimes of value added if you have control for everything else, partly because this permissive, this coddling thing that sometimes comes with care. [00:08:45] So people just...you'd have no way to know, if you didn't...you don't know what you don't know, right? But we think if everybody feels the warm fuzzies, the cared about, we're all happy that we're actually learning something. No, we're learning something if we're being pushed not to give up when the work is getting hard; that's persistence; to think rigorously and really understand it, to stay on task. And we got somebody who can help clear up the confusion if we get confused. That's clarify, comes in a little bit extra on that. [00:09:11] On the other hand, if we look at develop future orientation, "My teacher in this class inspires me to want to go to college," it's all care and captivate; the same things that predict happiness. Okay, so we've got one set of things that predicts happiness and aspiration and inspiration, care and captivate, and another set of things that predict year-to-year achievement gains, the challenge and control. [00:09:40] In this framework, care is emotional support, basically. In fact, when you ask kids what do they "mean when you say 'an adult cares?'” We did a project on community-based programming. We asked this in a bunch of different cities. We got almost identically the same answer every time we asked teenagers what they mean when they say "an adult cares." Two-part answer: when an adult really cares about you, they do things for you they don't have to do, and they won't let you give up. That's not usually the answer you get from kids. [00:10:10] I think from adults, it usually is "nice" or "You just want us to be nice." So for some of the adults, that challenge piece may be in there, but for the kids, the challenge piece is very much in there. They do things for you they don't have to do and they won't let you give up are the two pieces. [00:10:30] "Well, what if they're fun?" Well, that just means they're fun. That don't mean they care. "What if they're nice?" That just means they're nice. That doesn't mean they care. If they care for you, they go the extra mile. That's what you get. [00:10:39] And that piece of that shows up in challenge in what we're doing here, all right? I just showed you a snippet of some of these kinds of things to show you some of the nuances. I want to run quickly through what the implications are. [00:10:51] And actually this page right here. This kind of summarizes some of what just said. Student perspectives on classroom management and challenge (i.e. press) are strong predictors of annual achievement gains, as measured by standardized test scores. Student perspectives on care and captivate, which are elements of support, are strong predictors of happiness and aspiration. Student perspectives on both support and press are strong predictors of effort. [00:11:15] So the emerging guide, what does this mean for teaching? Care: Be attentive and sensitive, but avoid a tendency among sensitive teachers to coddle students in ways that hold them to lower standards and undermine their agency. And that comes out of the kind of pattern that we were looking at. Confer: Encourage and respect students' perspectives and honor student voice, but also stay focused on instructional goals. Avoid extended discussions that have no apparent purpose and thereby fail to model self-discipline and effective agency. [00:11:51] I was in a school system yesterday and we were talking about this kind of stuff. And they would start imitating some of the teachers they know that are buddy-buddy with the kids and go into class and spend 15 minutes maybe with an idol, back-and-forth, I'm your friend kind of interaction that they associated with some of this. [00:12:07] Captivate: Strive to make lessons stimulating and relevant to the development of agency. If some students seem unresponsive, do not assume they are disinterested. Some students, and especially those who struggle, purposefully hide their interest and their effort. We ask about this and we get substantial percentages of kids agreeing, "Sometimes I pretend I'm not trying hard in this class, even when I really am." There's a whole detailed analysis we can do of hiding effort and holding back. [00:12:38] Consolidate: Regularly summarize and check for understanding because consolidation helps to solidify learning and models our agency as a teacher...because I'm taking agency to make sure you understand this and like it all together...even when students seem reticent or disinterested. [00:12:52] Clarify, with those three different pieces to it. Clarify by clearing up confusion: Take regular steps to detect and respond to confusion in class, but in ways that share responsibility with students for doing the thinking. Okay, so we do want to clear up confusion, but every time a kid is confused you jump in and you clear it up, it undermines effort. [00:13:19] Clarify with lucidity explanations: Strive to develop clear explanations, especially for the material the students find the most difficult, including lucid examples of how the skills and knowledge you teach can support effective agency. So you're not only explaining the material, you're also explaining something about life, something about how you use this material in life. [00:13:40] Clarify with instructive feedback: Give instructive feedback to help scaffold student agency in correcting their own work and building their own understandings. So the instructive feedback is feedback on student work, but it doesn't just go on and give them all the right answers. It might say, "I want you to think about this again, but as you think about it, think about these two things, too." [00:14:05] In the midterm I gave, I had actually only one student in this particular class who did not do a very good job at all. I gave him a couple constructive feedback things and said, "I'm not going to grade this. I want you to go do it again because I know you can do better." I haven't read it yet, he just handed it in a couple days ago...the comeback. [00:14:27] But just coming back at kids to give them another chance, give them a little coaching on how to...it's very much about coaching. Coaching is very much about instructive feedback to help kids get better. [00:14:38] Challenge: Challenge by requiring rigor: Press students to think deeply instead of superficially about their lessons. Set and enforce performance goals that require students to use reasoning and exercise agency. Challenge by requiring persistence: Consistently require students to keep trying even when work is difficult, to give their best efforts and produce their best work, knowing that few things could be more important for developing agency. Challenge them to persist and not give up, keep going. [00:15:04] Then classroom management: strive to achieve respectful, orderly, on-task student behavior in your class by teaching in ways that clarify, captivate, and challenge, in support of agency, instead of imposing control by intimidation. You can get an orderly classroom if kids are scared to death, okay> But we can do analysis where we looked at how the Cs predict one another, and what we see is that clarify, captivate, and challenge are important predictors of classroom management, of control. [00:15:34] I have a colleague who says, "How often do the kids misbehave during the magic show?" A magic show is so captivating that the kids are so captivated. They're sitting there not thinking about misbehaving. And if you can clear up their confusion...because confusion does help to predict misbehavior also. So you clear up the confusion, you make it really interesting and you challenge them, they're on task; they aren't misbehaving so much. [00:16:00] Okay, and so why take the seven Cs seriously? This is just a bar chart of the core. If you take the same teacher and you measure the teacher in different classrooms, you do that for lots of teachers, and then you look at the correlation within teacher across classrooms. If you look at the seven Cs, it's in between 0.6 and 0.7, generally. If you look at value-added achievement gains from the MET project, the Measures Effect Teaching project, it's generally between 0.2 and 0.4. [00:16:28] There is information in those scores. I'm not trying to use this to say scores aren't good. I think the mantra for teacher evaluation should be multiple measures, multiple times, over multiple years. Multiple measures, over multiple times, over multiple years so that no one deployment of any measure makes much difference. It don't matter how you measure them, folks, you don't need to worry about it because it doesn't matter much. It's going to be averaged in and looked at with bunch of other things, but test results, maybe student surveys, are in the mix if not for evaluation, for improvement. [00:17:08] Then we do have, just for those who are interested, you can go to tripoded.com and do the seven Cs survey in your own classroom for free, and get a report pretty much immediately to see how you measure up on these things. It's a free-to-teacher version of it. Just again, tripoded.com. You have to put in your principal's email address. There'll be a note to get the permission from your principal, but as long as your principal gives permission, you do it, you get very good feedback. [00:17:42] I sat yesterday...I was in a school district yesterday where a teacher had done it, and she came over fascinated, a little bothered by her results, but also fascinated by them. She rated really high on control, among the highest. She was really high on control. She was low, pretty low on clarify and captivate. And we had a conversation about checking for understanding because she was lowest on clarify. And she said she's teaching an advanced language...foreign language class to middle-schoolers and to be in that class, you're supposed to be real smart. And so she's worried that when things aren't clear, nobody's letting her know they aren't clear because nobody wants to look stupid. [00:18:28] So it was a total surprise to her that she was rated so lowly on clarify. And she was also rated low on captivate, but that's probably because of clarify. It's hard to be real interested if you don't understand it. [00:18:42] And so it's not always stuff that you would of guessed, but it tends to be stuff that is pretty useful because you can't read your student's minds. You may think you can. Pretty much every time I polled my students...because often you hold off. You could poll them, but you say, "I kind of know. I don't need to really ask them." And then you ask them and some stuff comes up that you weren't thinking about. And it happens. [00:19:06] Anyway, so I just throw that out there as something that could be of interest to you. The reports...there's one page of the report looks like this. On each, you see that in faint, care, confer, captivate, clarify, consolidate, and control around. And the length of the petal gives you how you rate it. This goes from 202 to 398. It's centered exactly on 300 in our large, national norming sample. And we adjust for the kinds of things like class size and some things about student background that might predict a little bit, try to put everybody on an even playing field, so to speak, using the background measures we ask about. And then give you a rating where you can see where you stand relative to others on that. [00:19:50] And then on each item...you'll see these are examples of items. You get a sense of where you stand relative to others. So we want disagreement with, "When she's teaching, my teacher thinks we understand even when we don't." Or, "You don't understand something when the teacher explains it in another way," "Knows when the class understands and when they don't." And several good ways to explain these topics that we covered are those kinds of things. [00:20:09] The excellence with equity picture I talked about before looks like that. Then you come up. We want to get everybody moved up to that green bar, to that green curve. That's the excellence with equity notion.