December 18, 2020


Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and
learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education.


Hooking All Students on Learning
In-Person and Remotely


I saw a recent Editorial Board commentary in the New York Post titled “New York City’s Public School System is Barely Even Pretending to Teach.” It made me sad and angry. While I understand that this does not apply to all classrooms in all schools in all districts in all states, I do understand that if this applies to even one, we must reflect on our own schools and be prepared to respond. So, the focus of this EmpowerED 3.2.1 is hooking all students on learning whether they are in traditional, virtual, or hybrid settings. School leaders must know their students, know who is teaching whom, and drop in to notice how many students are present, how many are attentive, the quality of their synchronous work, their collaborative work, what happens when class is over, and what kind of feedback is delivered by the teacher? Leaders can look for patterns in all settings as they do when school is completely in face-to-face sessions and guide best practice that hooks all students on learning!


3 Big Ideas

  1. Teachers are clear in their instruction and are credible. 
    Teachers should develop well-articulated and coherent lessons, clearly deliver instruction, and set clear expectations for behavior, task completion, and learning outcomes. As Kouzes and Posner write in The Leadership Challenge, teachers, and their leaders, are considered credible when there is trust, competence, dynamism, and immediacy in feedback. Students, and teachers, evaluate each of these factors to determine credibility and if they choose to learn, or be led, by them. Teachers can focus their lessons and hook their students on learning by articulating good learning intentions (the what) and success criteria (the how) that provides a clear path forward that:

    • Considers essential questions as central to the content using state and local curriculum standards to guide instruction while allowing teachers to determine how students will demonstrate learning. Essential questions and learning targets should be written and articulated in ways students can understand.
    • Begins with the standard and breaks it down into smaller chunks that can be practiced and attained within a given lesson or set of lessons. Clearly framed success criteria play a crucial role in hooking students on learning, as they know exactly what the end goal looks like. The Best Practices in Teaching and Learning Resources below from Just ASK are intuitive and informative in their alignment to standards-based teaching so important in today’s environment.

  2. Strategies are regularly and meaningfully embedded into lessons.
    Learners and teachers are flexible and skilled in their use with the students in front of them (in seats or on a screen). Teachers and leaders discuss the routine use of high yield strategies and monitor their effectiveness.

    Marzano’s Strategies
    I have shared with hundreds of teachers with great success a chart that lists Marzano’s Nine High-Yield Instructional Strategies, what the research says about them, and how to implement them in classrooms. The chart was adapted from Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement by Robert Marzano.

    Hattie’s Strategies
    John Hattie developed a way of synthesizing various influences in different meta-analyses according to their effect size (Cohen’s d). In his study he ranked 138 influences that are related to learning outcomes from very positive effects to very negative effects. Hattie found that the average effect size of all the interventions he studied was 0.40. He decided to judge the success of influences relative to this ‘hinge point’, in order to find an answer to the question “What works best in education?” Hattie ranked these influences in “Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement.

    Strategies on Which Robert Marzano and John Hattie Agree
    Robert Marzano and John Hattie have both reviewed research into what teaching strategies make the biggest difference to students’ results. While they used different methods and terminology, they agreed on these 8 powerful strategies outlined by Shaun Killian in “8 Stategies Robert Marzano and John Hattie Agree On.”

  3. Students see the benefits of learning material that is tailored to them.
    Students and teachers are more likely to buy in if the results of their work are visible and tangible. A primary goal of education is to have students become more capable of assessing their own work and their progress toward learning goals. It is important to pay attention to how students are responding and progressing with instruction. I curated a few resources on student self-assessment:


Change is the end result of all true learning.
– Leo Buscaglia


Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as is you were to live forever. ”
– Mahatma Gandhi


1 Question

Think about a strategy you used or observed in use recently; how was it selected and did it support student learning? 



About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.










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