Let the Data Do the Leading

In Dr. Scott McLeod’s blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, he writes about the misalignment of schools.  One item that caught my mind was:

professional development plans that are based on teachers’ preferences rather than students’ needs – read the whole post

In meetings that I have had in the past, there has always been conversation about surveying teachers and asking them what they think they need with regards to staff development and technology integration.  This conversation has always made my stomach groan – but I did not know why…until now.

When teachers are asked about what they need, – when they don’t know what they do need – how are they going to answer?  

We could tell them what they need, but that would be pompous. So, I got to thinking….since we collect all this data and store it in a data warehouse, why not let the data do the leading of what teachers should be learning on staff development days.

Example: A group of students are having difficulty with a certain performance indicator(PI) such as this:

Plot points to form basic geometric shapes (identify and classify)

The areas of weakness can easily be found using the data mentor – which pulls data in from the data warehouse and enables easy to read charts. A group of people should sit down and reflect on:

  • how this PI is being taught
  • how we might be able to teach it more effectively
  • where, if it all, technology fits in
  • how might we design staff development to teach teachers how to teach that PI more effectively

This scenario makes the needs of students the priority and not the needs of the teacher.  I feel vindicated for my gut feeling – thanks Scott! I feel more aligned 😉

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One thought on “Let the Data Do the Leading

  1. You’ve described exactly the way it should be. In a well-functioning learning organization, the employees (teachers! administrators!) would be collecting and examining important organizational data (student learning outcomes!) and asking, “What training do we need to help close whatever disparities we’re seeing between our desired goals and our current performance?” Of course this implies that the system (school! district!) has the ability to then successfully facilitate such training. I think most schools can, but they don’t think they can.

    Thanks for a great post!

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