The NSI Process for Teachers

The NSI Process for Teachers

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in a classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I have a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanised or dehumanised.

Ginott, H. (1971). Teacher and child, p. 71

Ginott, H. (1971). Teacher and child, p. 71

NSI works with teachers to examine and improve their classroom learning environments, and to track changes in the classroom climate and other student outcomes over time. Our process invites teachers to engage in a process of reflective practice around feedback information that is collected directly from students, who are the ultimate stakeholders in education. Read more about the information students provide here .

Although each teacher will have different strengths and areas for improvement, we believe there is much power in teachers ‘journeying together’. As such, we recommend that teachers meet in collaborative groups and follow our five step collaborative inquiry process. Each teacher will be working on individualised goals based on feedback from their own students, but these efforts can be shared, brainstormed, supported and evaluated more powerfully through reflective conversations with colleagues .

NSI Partnerships’ Five-Step Collaborative Inquiry Process for Teachers:


Assessment and feedback

The teacher selects one class (if they teach more than one group of students). Students in this class complete our online survey, the Classroom Climate Questionnaire. We work through an in-school survey coordinator to support the process of setting up classes and administering the online survey.

After the survey closes, the teacher can access a feedback package within 24 hours. This feedback package presents responses across the class of students at both overview (snapshot) and detailed levels. These responses are seen as baseline data.

We also provide a teacher companion booklet that explains how to interpret the feedback graphs and gives further information about what is examined in each scale and why these aspects of the classroom climate are important.

Example of overview feedback
(click to enlarge)
Example of detailed feedback
(click to enlarge)

Reflection and focusing

The teacher looks at the feedback provided – preferably sharing this with a small group of trusted colleagues in a professional learning group. The teacher reflects on what the student responses are saying, trying hard to ‘suspend judgement’ and to genuinely listen to the messages contained in the data.

The teacher then selects one – or at most two – areas for improvement, based on the feedback package. Again, it is preferable for the teacher to share this selection process and the reasons for their decision with a small group of trusted colleagues.

Our teacher companion booklet provides useful information to support teachers at this stage, explaining the content and importance of each scale in the online survey. Teachers may also choose to share some of the data with their students and/or have follow-up conversations with them to hear more about the students’ experiences and help inform the teacher’s selection of an appropriate focus area.

Planning an intervention

This step has three parts, as the teacher seeks to plan an intervention that is likely to help improve their chosen focus area. Ideally, each of these steps would be shared with others within a professional learning group.

  • First, the teacher develops a working hypothesis that explains what they think has caused the current issue or challenge in their focus area.
  • Next, the teacher accesses new learning, exploring information and insights related to their focus area and trying to keep an open mind. The teacher considers both old and new ideas and approaches.
  • Finally, drawing on the thinking and information above, the teacher develops a strategy for a targeted intervention that they will implement over the next 6-10 weeks. The teacher tries to ensure that their strategy is manageable and is likely to result in a worthwhile impact in their focus area.

Implementing and refining

The teacher spends 6-10 weeks implementing the strategy they selected in step 3. As they do so, the teacher reflects on how the strategy seems to be going, and makes modifications or refinements to their strategy as necessary. During the 6-10 week period, most teachers will engage in several mini-rounds of implementing, reflecting and then refining their strategy.

Re-administering the survey to examine the changes

After 6-10 weeks of improvement efforts and ongoing reflection, it is time to gather some more formal data by re-administering the survey. The same class of students complete the online survey again, and the teacher receives an updated feedback package.

Using the new (post-test) feedback as well as any other evidence (such as student or parent comments during the intervention period), the teacher decides whether they feel that they have, as yet, made enough change in their chosen focus area. There will almost certainly have been some improvement, but the teacher may wish to continue working in this focus area with a new strategy if they feel there is still room to improve. Alternatively, the teacher may decide that they are happy with the improvement in their chosen area, and are now ready to begin the process again, reflecting on the latest survey data and selecting a new focus area (while retaining the good practices that generated improvement in their original focus area).

Click here to read case studies of real teachers’ experiences working with NSI.

Measurable improvements over time

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