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Blog: Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The Power of Believing in Yourself

I hear a quiet little knock on my office door. I look up to see a set of massive green eyes alight with excitement. The toothy grin, complete with a recently acquired gaping hole, spreads wide with anticipation when I invite Jaden (*name changed to protect privacy) into my office.

“Can I read to you?” he asks.

“Of course!” I quickly respond.

I settle in, eager to experience a glimpse into the world of early literacy development. He introduces me to each character and tells me a little bit about the story. As he reads he attends to meaning. He references the pictures for clues, he self-corrects when the word he says doesn’t match the print, and he goes back and re-reads a sentence when he accidentally runs through some punctuation.

Jaden began his grade 1 year below grade level expectations in all areas of literacy development. Now, in February, he is well on his way to meeting expectations by the March report cards. So what has made the difference for Jaden?

Hattie (2012) defines self-efficacy as “the confidence or strength or belief that we have in ourselves that we can make our learning happen” (p.45). Fisher, Frey and Hattie (2016) go on to explain that the influence of a teacher has a significant impact on whether or not students develop self-efficacy. Jaden’s teacher creates an environment where student self-efficacy flourishes. In addition to clear learning expectations, she creates an environment where mistakes are expected and understood as growth, a high level of trust between her and her students is evident, and her credibility is consistent, fair to all, and visible. Jaden is flourishing in an environment where teacher-student relationship, teacher credibility and student self-efficacy are seamlessly blended.

As Jaden reads the last line of the story to me, he slowly closes the book and looks up at me expectantly. The pride in his eyes matches mine.

I ask, “Are you proud of yourself for reading that book?”

Though his answer is only a one word ‘yes’, his body gives away what he is not saying. His eyes light up as he bashfully glances at the floor and his shoulders straighten ever-so-slightly. In the quiet moments that follow, he slowly lifts his head, smiles at me and fully owns this celebratory moment of pride.

Vice Principal, Blue Jay Elementary

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers Maximizing Impact on Learning. New York: Routledge.
Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Hattie, J. (2016) Visible Learning for Literacy: Implementing the Practices that Work Best to Accelerate Student Learning. California: Corwin Literacy.