Teacher Efficacy

What Is Teacher Efficacy? It’s About Believing in Kids

Great teachers have two things in common: high expectations and encouragement.

A good example would be my science teacher. He assigned my class to write an essay on biomes. It had to be 1,000 words, not counting any words less than four letters. It was really hard. I finished it, but some kids didn’t.

That’s where encouragement comes in. Teacher efficacy is about rooting for kids. When I only get a couple of answers right on a test, or come up a few words short on an essay, a great teacher doesn’t say I should’ve done better. He or she congratulates me on what she got right and helps me focus on how to improve next time.



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

5 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset using Grit and Resilience

I think we would all agree this is a topic we need to explore for the children at our school and perhaps our broader community.  The bulk of this is from an article online but I have included some other resources at the bottom.  Hope you find something useful.

Grit and Resilience

According to Angela Duckworth, a researcher, a MacArthur Fellowship winner and with a TEDtalk with over 8 million views, grit is “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

Duckworth’s research has evolved around discovering why some individuals accomplish more than other individuals despite having the same talent, intelligence, and resources.  She has studied an assortment of subjects from spelling bee students to West Point hopefuls in attempting to define the essence of grit.

She has discovered that grit can be related to how much you can inspire yourself, access your passion, and sustain your motivation. Want to test your grit? Try her online questionnaire.

How is grit different from resilience?

Resilience involves the ability to get back up when you’ve been knocked down or to come back fighting stronger after a loss.

The subtle differentiating factor between these two deeply entwined character traits seems to be that resilience is the optimism to continue when you’ve experienced some failures and times are so tough that others see continuing as futile or impossible. While Grit is the motivational drive that keeps you on a difficult task over a sustained period of time.

Is the amount of grit and resilience something that you’re born with and limited to, or are these resources that you can deplete and expand?

A Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck’s work has shown that you can change your mindset. Her research found that when students had a growth mindset; a mindset which perceives a challenge as an opportunity to learn rather than an obstacle to overcome, they responded with constructive thoughts and their behavior showed persistence rather than defeat.

From Dweck’s research into the growth mindset in regards to tenacity and its effects on achievement, especially in an educational setting, she discovered 4 factors that affect ongoing tenacity or grit:

  1. Their beliefs about themselves
  2. Their goals
  3. Their feelings about their social connectedness
  4. Their self-regulatory skills

Below are my top 5 suggestions to increase your grit and resilience through developing a growth mindset.

Five Ways to Develop Grit & Resilience  

1)      Focus on Your Language Choice

Praising efforts fosters resilience and reminds people of their role in a successful outcome.  Too often young children are praised for “being smart” rather than having a good plan.  When a child is praised for an ability (e.g., “You are really smart. You are so flexible.”) it teaches a fixed mindset, there are different approaches to teaching resilience in schools. All their lives they have heard how smart they are, so failure feels like they aren’t smart anymore. Use language that encourages perseverance and praises effort.

2)      Surround Yourself with People Who Persevere

Whether grit is nature or nurture is a common debate- but like all things, it’s a combination. Duckworth cites the example of height. Yes, the height of our parents affects our genes (nature) but over generations, we have evolved to be taller as a population (nurture). Surrounding yourself with people who have both passion and perseverance towards their goals, will help to strengthen or grow the mindset required to increase resilience and grit.

3)      Adopt Flexible Thinking Patterns

Being less rigid in your thoughts and actions allows resilience and grit to blossom. Simply because flexible people don’t see problems they see opportunities for growth and learning. When every challenge is met with enthusiasm and creative thinking you will see yourself as capable and this confidence breeds resilience.

4)      Set Tiny Goals That Align with Your Purpose

People with a sense of purpose are happier. However, your purpose is very abstract and often difficult to define. By creating smaller short term goals which align with your bigger purpose, you increase your success rate and your speed of accomplishing goals. This will keep you motivated to keep persevering.

5)      Build Time into Your Day for Reflection

When you take a time to reflect you bring awareness in a focused way to the things you have accomplished and the path you want to take to continue. Whether your reflection takes the form of a meditation, a journaling session, a gratitude exercise or a walk outside while you think back on your day. When you give yourself time to think back on your day in a non-judgmental way, we can see what you have accomplished and what actions you need to take tomorrow to keep moving forward.

Other resources:

Mathematical Mindsets

A while ago I reviewed some material from the Mathematical Mindsets book by Jo Boaler


I was given an article by my wife and she was very excited about it so I read it.  It felt familiar but it has only just dawned on me that it was a chapter from the book.  What that particular chapter has to say does fly in the face of some of our current practices around sorting kids into groups of like ability for reading.  Teaching is a complex business and I guess the only answer to that problem is that different strategies for different purposes.  I will say this though it does sit closely with my believe that all students should be offered the opportunity to work with kids of all different abilities.  The process of withdrawing children for support or intervention does not really sit well with me and I don’t really believe it is the best practice for a range of reasons.

Anyway I thought I would share some other resources about this book and the topic:


A free course:



In the business of empathy

Positive Education

The Gap State High School is an active member of the Queensland chapter of PESA (Positive Education Schools Association) and recently hosted Mr Simon Murray who up until 5 days ago was the Headmaster of St Peter’s Boys College in Adelaide.  This school has a big focus on wellbeing and positive education.  I thought I would take this opportunity to share some resources that were shared in this session.



Mindset Kit and other resources

This has been a bit of a theme across the last few posts but thought I would share some more.  It is something that we might look into with respect to PD in the future and a whole school approach.

One free course you can complete is at:


Other courses and resources you may wish to explore:

The Power of Yet

Growth Mindset: The Power of Yet

Growth mindset – a phrase that can easily be coined the education fad of 2015-2016. Although I do like to avoid most fads (bleached hair, suntanning oil, and silly bands were all lost on me), why not take the best from the proverbial education pendulum and allow it to positively impact our classrooms? Recently my 1st grade classroom has morphed into a K/1 combination classroom resulting in HUGE gaps (academically, socially, & emotionally) between my students. Today I’m sharing one of our most powerful community-building lessons we’ve shared since becoming a combined classroom!


Intentional Read Alouds

Intentionally chosen read alouds and texts in a classroom have tremendous power. From writing mentor texts, to texts that lend themselves to particular reading strategies, our students need models.

Giraffes Can’t Dance (affiliate link) is one of my favorite read-alouds. It’s a smooth read, include rhymes, and is a perfect platform for launching a conversation about differences in the classroom. The book centers around a Giraffe who can’t dance like all the other jungle animals and is made fun of because of his lack of dancing skills. Gerald is the perfect character for teaching students about growth mindset!

The rest of this lesson can be found here:


Other resources:


Growth Mindset

How often have we said the following to a child who is struggling with a particular subject, thinking we were being helpful: ‘Don’t worry, I was never very good at Maths [or English, French, Science etc.] either. Sometimes our brains just aren’t wired that way.’

There is a growing school of thought that intelligence and ability are, in fact, not fixed. Brains and talent are just the starting point for us all and, with effort and dedication, intelligence can be grown as the brain continues to develop over the course of our lives. This idea is known as the ‘Growth Mindset’.

According to Stanford University Professor, Dr Carol Dweck, if we teach to the Growth Mindset theory, we develop in our students the belief that their basic abilities, such as intelligences or talents, can be developed through dedication and hard work. This is very empowering for a young person.

In this talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet?

Staff Wellbeing

We have reached the end of another term and I thought I would share a couple of resources I have found online and some tips from a recent QELi conference I have attended.

It is important to plan for wellbeing…a strange concept to plan to feel well but if you don’t take the time this job can take over your life.

At the QELi conference it was suggested to plan weekly for these elements:





In short plan for your fitness, time with those that matter, something that makes you feel good and something intellectual to feed your mind (read a thought provoking book).

The stats:

Here are some eye-watering statistics:

  1. over half of teachers (52%) say that they have seriously considered leaving their current job in the last 12 months and nearly half (47%) have seriously considered leaving the profession;
  2. two fifths of teachers (41%) say their job satisfaction has decreased in the last 12 months;
  3. teachers’ biggest concern regarding their job is workload (79%), followed by pay and pensions (66%), changes or reforms in the curriculum (59%) and school inspections (51%). The vast majority of teachers (86%) say that their workload has increased in the last 12 months;
  4. the majority of teachers disagree that teaching is competitive with other occupations in terms of either the financial rewards on offer (80%) or salaries (67%) and only 21% of teachers feel optimistic about their career opportunities;
  5. the top three things teachers love most about their jobs are seeing children learn and progress (91%), interacting with pupils (90%) and making a positive difference (83%). (Source)
  6. research by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) found that 55% of teachers said work pressure is having a detrimental effect on their mental wellbeing. Note, the research was conducted in April 2014 by polling agency ComRes, surveying 2002 adults, of whom 1548 are parents and 933 have children under 25.


The published article stems from the following questions:

  1. Accountability: to whom are teachers accountable? Children, parents, school management, Ofsted, the secretary of state, the public, the media? Or are their own consciences the hardest taskmasters of all?
  2. Are the biggest pressures internal or external? What can management do to alleviate those pressures and help teachers cope with the workload?
  3. Professional development: should schools spend on this as an investment in people, rather than take a negative view and see it as a cost?
  4. How has the decline in status affected teachers? Do they feel the need to justify their working patterns?
  5. What does support look like? Preventative measures.

Intent vs. Impact

Speaking to a group of principals, one of the participants, thanked me for my time, and gave a very elegant “call-to-action” to the group.  It was not simply discussing what I talked about, but what they needed to do to move forward.

One of her quotes that resonated with me was, “Intention is not good enough; we need to look at our impact.”1  It jolted me.  There are very few people in the world that don’t want to do important things, yet what is the impact of our intentions?  Everyone wants to be a great teacher, but do all educators do things that keep them up to date and moving forward in their work? This would obviously apply to any profession.

I have always believed that you could have been a great teacher ten years ago, changed nothing, and now be irrelevant.

This is one of my favourite quotes from a college dropout who felt a post-secondary education was no longer relevant to what he needed to be successful in our world today:

“Wanting” is not good enough on it’s own; the impact of our actions are how progress is always measured.

George Couros Principal of Change


How Open-Ended Math Tasks will transform your math block

Learn how you can use open-ended math tasks to teach your students valuable mathematical problem-solving skills while deepening student engagement, understanding, and retention – Absolutely FREE!


What You Will Learn On This 1-Hour Free Webinar:
Even if you’ve heard of open-ended math tasks, it’s likely that you have yet to try them in your classroom. And trust me, you’re missing out! This slight tweak to math tasks completely changed my math block, and for good reason.

After I started using them, every student in my room became more capable and independent math thinkers. And perhaps more importantly, they became confident problem-solvers because they knew what strategies to apply when. If you’re skeptical, so was I. It took me four days of training before I even wanted to try them in my classroom. But once I did, I never went back.
In this training, we’ll talk in detail about what open-ended math tasks are, and why they’re so powerful. I’ll also show you everything you’ll need to know to implement open-ended math tasks into your math block right away.