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Three Actions for Building a Culture of Collective Efficacy (


Collective efficacy occurs when teachers in a school believe that, as a team, they have the power to help their students learn more effectively—and this belief is based on their own shared experiences of success. A culture of collective efficacy does not simply happen; it is built intentionally.

I have learned this in my work at Lead by Learning, a nonprofit connected with the Mills College School of Education that partners with schools and districts to foster collective efficacy.  At the beginning of the school year, teachers and leaders in these partnerships often have a strong sense of their goals but struggle with determining how to achieve them.

Below are three actions we’ve found can help school and district leaders find a path forward and begin building a culture of collective efficacy.

Action #1: Embed a Routine Practice of Public Learning

Collective efficacy requires making teacher learning visible. Teachers need to be able to take stock of their own success, and to do that, they must have opportunities to see their growth over time. Our routine practice of public learning invites teachers to engage in a repeated, low-stakes practice of telling everyday stories about what their students are learning, with a primary focus on moments of uncertainty, confusion, struggle, or doubt. Educators show short video clips of students engaged in a particular task, share interviews with young learners, or show student work connected to a learning goal from that day that feels messy. Then educators invite the group to weigh in on how they can better address the real-time challenges and uncertainties their students face. 

Action #2: Periodically Pause to Reflect and Celebrate Teacher Learning Over Time

Periodic pauses to synthesize and celebrate bigger takeaways at pivotal points in the year, typically December and May, help teachers collectively see their progress as professional learners. To make this happen, whether in grade-level teams, department groups, or as a whole staff, teachers pause their normal collaborative routines to reflect on and share what they have learned about their practice over the last few months. The experience of crafting, telling, and hearing each other's bigger-picture journeys from uncertainty to greater effectiveness and understanding is a culture-building strategy that fosters teacher collective efficacy.

To read more of Sarah Sugarman's article, please click here.

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