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'Too Often, Teachers Deny Their Own Expertise': John Hattie on the Educator Mindframe

After 20 years of researching student achievement, John Hattie thinks he's found the factor that most affects students' success: how educators think about teaching and learning.

In his research, Hattie has synthesized the results of over 1,000 meta-studies on more than a quarter billion students to determine the effect that different factors—like teacher professional development, after-school programs, and classroom discussions—have on learning outcomes. A central tenet in Hattie's work is visible learning—the idea that teachers should view learning through their students' eyes while helping students see themselves as their own teachers. 

Hattie gave the keynote address at Education Week's 2018 Leaders to Learn From event on April 12, and later participated in a Facebook Live interview with Commentary Editor Elizabeth Rich.

"We spend far too much time talking about what [teachers] do, as opposed to what they think," Hattie said during the Facebook Live. "Those moment-by-moment decisions that great teachers make to adjust, to refine, to improve, in light of the impact they have on students, is what the core idea is."

He further noted that among the top factors that he's found improve student achievement, most are related to teacher and school leader expertise—including having high expectations, welcoming mistakes as opportunties to learn, and maximizing feedback to teachers about their impact.

In his 2011 book Visible Learning for Teachers, Hattie argued that educators don't become experts by relying on specific teaching strategies—instead, their success as teachers arises from their constant self-evaluations and the small improvements they make in their everyday classroom work.

In his keynote speech Leaders to Learn From, Hattie emphasized the importance of identifying and fostering expertise among educators.

"We have incredible expertise out there that we don't use, sometimes because the hierarchy of our school is so dependent on experience and not on expertise," Hattie said.

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