Master the Classroom: The Power of Teacher Credibility

A ground-breaking study has cited teacher credibility as one of the most critical factors that influences students’ achievement. Teachers who master the power of credibility can make a significant difference to their students’ progress. In this article we examine the dimensions of teacher credibility and consider how teachers can win their pupils’ attention and master credibility in the classroom.

Why teacher credibility is so critical

Professor John Hattie, who undertook the infamous Visible Learning study which collected feedback from over 80 million English-speaking students worldwide, published an updated account of the main influences on students’ achievement. One of the highest factors, at number four, was teacher credibility. According to Hattie’s study, teacher credibility is vital because students are highly perceptive about knowing which teachers can make a difference to their learning. Instilling confidence through credible teaching will give the students reassurance and confidence to invest in the lesson’s content. Tools, technology and resources are nothing without credibility which lays the foundations for every successful lesson. Teachers who convey a credible ethos will gain the trust and respect of their students, and students who engage with teaching are much more likely to succeed.

The key dimensions of credible teaching

There are four key dimensions that lead to credible teaching which provide a useful framework and guide for teachers to master credibility. The first is trust. Teachers need to show that they trust their pupils and genuinely care about their personal and academic development. Teachers who show fairness and treat everyone in the same way will gain respect and trust from their pupils.

The next key dimension is competence. Students need confidence in the teacher’s ability to deliver compelling and engaging information. Teachers who are organised and structured when presenting a subject and answering questions will gain credibility. Next is dynamism; teachers need to present material with energy and enthusiasm to engage their students. If pupils can see that their teacher has genuine passion for a subject, they will instantly feel more excited and engaged. Finally, immediacy is the other key dimension of credible teaching. This examines ways that teachers can break down barriers between themselves and their pupils by increasing eye contact, reducing the distance between teacher and students or rearranging chairs into a circle. This will help students to feel part of a collective group and will promote the idea that the teacher is on their side and committed to helping them learn.

How to master credibility in the classroom

How can you gain your students’ attention and master credibility for your next class or lecture? These are some of the key points to remember:

  • Preparation is key. Robust lesson planning and research will put you in control of your subject and convey confidence, which in turn will help your students to relax in the knowledge that you will deliver strong material.
  • Use authoritative and trusted sources to back up your information. Where possible, find facts or information that your students would not have heard before or easily found online.
  • Deliver material in an upbeat, engaging manner. If you are genuinely excited about the information you are conveying, your students will be too. Avoid too many hesitations or pauses during delivery.
  • Be sincere and use personal experiences where appropriate; this will help to bring your students closer to the subject.
  • Be creative – use educational videos, case studies or stories to bring subjects to life.
  • Challenge students to be critical of the information delivered and take an open and honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of the material.
  • Show that you are relaxed and comfortable delivering information through eye contact and body language. If your students feel at ease then they are ready to learn.

Resources to help gain credibility in the classroom

Credibility comes with experience, confidence and learning from mistakes. Teacher training videos are an excellent visual resource to strengthen core skills and accelerate the learning process by giving access to a wide range of teaching methods and practices. Watching videos of experienced teachers overcoming challenges in the classroom is an invaluable way to identify strategies to cope with similar situations as they arise.

Other useful resources include gaining advice and expertise from other teachers, observing lessons and evaluating your own experiences. John Hattie outlines the importance of continuous improvement and evaluation in teaching:

“To create such a (caring and idea-rich) environment, to command a range of learning strategies, and to be cognitively aware of the pedagogical means that enable the student to learn requires dedicated, passionate people. Such teachers need to be aware of which of their teaching strategies are working or not, need to be prepared to understand and adapt to the learner(s) and their situations, contexts, and prior learning, and need to share the experience of learning in this manner in an open, forthright, and enjoyable way with their students and their colleagues.” John Hattie, Visible Learning for Teachers.

Through mastering credibility in teaching, you can master the classroom and create the best possible learning experience for your students. BBC Active Video for Learning promotes excellence in interactive and visual learning with a high quality and comprehensive range of educational videos.