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Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

I have written often about my battle with weight. I’m back in it now. Having reduced myself to 215 pounds, and feeling really good about hitting my goal, I took a break a while back. That break led to more and more unhealthy eating. When I finally hit 233 pounds, I hit a wall in my head that caused me to make a turn and try to start peeling back the pounds once more.

I’m about 99% on a Paleo diet. I make cheating choices occasionally that still fit the low-carb mindset, but might fall outside the pseudo-science of the Paleo diet.  It’s really about low-carb, real-food choices as opposed to the quick-and-easy fast food route.  And it’s working.

At least it appears to be working. (No, that is not my scale).

They tell you to only weigh about once a week when you are dieting.  That makes sense to me, since you should not be obsessing about where you are on the journey.  Make healthy eating and living choices, and let the weight fall where it will.

Yeah.  I don’t do that.

I usually weigh before bed and again when I get up the next morning. I want to know, with more immediacy, if I have strayed too far too quickly.  However, I do only record my weight in the LoseIt app on Sundays.

I’m two-and-a-half weeks back in the game. As of this past Sunday, I had gone from 233 pounds to 227 pounds.  I’m very happy with 2 pounds each week. I’m looking for results.  Not magic.

Yesterday, other than purchasing a Cobb Salad for lunch (which fits the Paleo guidelines), I did not do anything any different from any other day of eating.  Tuesday morning I verified I’m still at 227. This morning?  230.

Two hundred and thirty. A gain of 3 pounds in one day. What the….?

There is a part of me that understands this is a fluke. There are physiological reasons for this. The frontal cortex of my brain that controls logical thinking tries to assure my inner self that this will just disappear in another day. It is an outlier.

Then there is the lizard brain that shouts at me, “My God, Childers! A three pound gain in one freaking day? Are you serious? You are a failure, that’s what you are! A pretender! Just give up and eat what you want. You’re going to do that anyway. Your tombstone should read, ‘At least he ate what he wanted.'”

Some of you can relate.

Are teacher evaluations any different? Our teachers teach three classes every day.  They do this for 180 days.  540 lessons taught in an average year.

We look at 2 or 3 of them and make decisions on what the other 537 looked like throughout the year.

The tyranny of a single data point can be the difference between an under qualified teacher thinking they are rocking it with their kids, or the proverbial rock star thinking they are simply a failure pretending to be a good teacher.

Our teachers deserve better than tyranny.

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I use Klout to judge my social media presence and engagement.  Yeah, I know. I’m just narcissistic enough to care.

For those that do not know, Klout is a social media tool that measures engagement across several social media platforms and gives you a score from 1 to 100 that shows the “value” of your online presence. I’m sure it is more like TVAAS than I would like to admit (I hate TVAAS, I’m addicted to Klout), but it is fun and harmless.

For the longest time, my Klout score stood about 67 or 68.  I was measuring engagement across Facebook and Twitter. Since then, I’ve added Pinterest (don’t judge me), Instagram, and Tumblr. Today I disconnected Flickr.  I’m just not using it much right now. Klout gives me that flexibility. I’ll add it back later when I get ready to do more on social media than I’m doing right now.

At one time my goal was to get above 70.  I finally hit 71, then 72, and a top score of 73. After that, life happened, and I didn’t get to post as much to Instagram as I wanted.  My score started to slip. Then, Instagram took off, but my score dropped again.  Down to 68.  As I write this, it stands at 69. And guess what? It isn’t Instagram that’s the culprit. It’s Twitter. How do I know? Because I have a continuous feedback loop of analytics that show me exactly what’s happening on each social media site.

This is what I like about Klout. It updates my statistics daily. I can know, almost in real time, if I’m doing something that makes a difference. I can look at the analytics and see that, while I am posting a lot to Twitter, it isn’t garnering much discussion, likes, or retweets. So, I need to analyze what I’m doing, make some adjustments, and see if the score changes for the better.

In addition, I am just now starting to get followers and re-pinners on Pinterest, and my Tumblr account is just sort of laying there.

My point is this. I have continual, meaningful feedback directly related to the algorithm that drives this score. I can make minute changes and see, in nearly real time, if I’m on the right track or not.

As an educator, whether teacher or administrator, we are not so fortunate. Educators under the TEAM model are evaluated 4 to 6 times a year.  However, out of those 4 to 6, only 2 or 3 are directly related to instruction.  The rest cover things like planning and environment. So, a teacher that is evaluated in October, but not again until March, has a long time of floundering in the dark to know whether they have raised that 3 to 4, or if their 5 has dropped to a 2.

And, they are rarely evaluated by the same person in the same year.  For fairness, you know. But one evaluator may be looking as a Constitutional strict constructionist and going strictly by the letter of the rubric, while the next may be more of a “living document” proponent that gives a break on certain things they feel are not really that important. It isn’t supposed to work like that, but let’s just be real about it.

What would it look like if teachers were evaluated more along a Klout-like algorithm? What if they could get nearly real-time feedback on the things they try out in class? We’ve got some models that approach this methodology.  Critical Friends is one that comes to mind.

What if we had the luxury of allowing cross-curricular feedback between teachers on a regular basis? Teachers evaluating one another’s lesson plans, visiting classrooms, sharing thoughts, and learning themselves as they critique others? What if we could go beyond the pettiness of the feeling that speaks to our minds, “What do they know about what I do? How can he help me with this?  He’s got his own problems!”  Because, you know, sometimes teachers get like this.

After all, we aren’t really judging teachers here.  We’re judging learning. What does student engagement look like? Can you see the learning happening in this classroom? Does it matter if the teacher is talking, or not, if the students are learning from one another? How do you score a teacher for just getting out of the way and letting the learning happen? That isn’t really in the rubric.

Educators need feedback.  We need to know how we are doing. We need, I’d go so far as to say we crave this knowledge in order to improve on our own practice.

How do we get there? What do we give to legislators that will make them realize how inadequate our current model is?

How do we get to Klout for teachers?

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There are many reasons why we do what we do.  The way we do them. When we do them.  When we started, it all made sense.  There was a need, sometimes an urgent need, that caused us to change what we were doing and do this new thing.

  • We’ve established expectations for behavior in our classrooms
    • Sit down
    • Stay quiet
    • Put your phones away
    • Get out your textbook
    • Sharpen your pencil
    • Buy a 3″ wide 3-ring notebook
  • We’ve established expectations for our faculty meetings
    • Be on time
    • Take notes
    • Listen. To everything. I mean everything.
  • We’ve established expectations for teacher observations
    • Here is the 12-point rubric with 128 separate things that have to be observed.  Every day.  Every period. In 45 minutes. Or 90 minutes.
    • Unpack the standards
    • Do the deep dive
    • Make sure every single student grows. Here, we’ll use this totally arbitrary number that has been shown to be false and misleading, but we’re going to keep using it anyway.

All of this made sense when we started.  Tech wasn’t much in the classroom at the time.  But now, nearly every student from 6th grade on up, has a miniature computer in their pocket that can search the Internet, take pictures for evidence in a science experiment, or run an app that will calculate the velocity of a coconut-laden swallow. It doesn’t make sense to put them away any longer.

All of this made sense when we started. Faculty meetings couldn’t be placed online.  Meetings couldn’t be honed down to an email. Video wasn’t readily available. And you’ve created a PPT, a PDF, and an email with all the stuff you were going to say anyway.  It doesn’t make sense that everyone has to listen to everything any longer.

All of this made sense when we started. OK, no, it didn’t. Teacher observations are not the salvation of education. Growth scores are arbitrary and capricious. Even harmful and debilitating. Expecting teachers to “do it all” all the time is an impossible standard that no teacher evaluator can do for themselves. Expecting teachers to take the blame for poverty, lack of parent involvement, abuse in the home, hunger, the fact that you arbitrarily raise the mark for what is deemed proficient, or the fact that your standards are just no longer interesting or necessary at times, is criminal.

Some of it never made sense.

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We all need to try something new in our practice every year.  Maybe more than every year.  But we need to keep it simple.  Don’t overwhelm yourself, or your staff, with new stuff right up front.  We’ve made that mistake.  It didn’t go well.

This year, I have a couple of new things I’m working on.  One impacts students.  One impacts parents. A select few just impact me.  Here are some of the ideas I’m trying this year:

  • We are creating an online PD program for our parents.  Using Edmodo, as of this post, I have 399 parents in an Edmodo group to learn more about our school.  We are an open lottery magnet STEM school.  Our kids come from all over Knox County. We wanted our parents to know more about how our school operates, and the kinds of things their kids will experience.  I am creating short videos for explanations.  No video will ever be over 5 minutes long (although it may take more than one to explain some things!).  The list of items we’re covering include:
    • How to help your child be successful through failure
    • What is this MacAir my kid has?
    • What is STEM and what does it look like at this school?
    • What is the d.school process?
    • What is a Blended Learning environment?
    • What is the difference between a Research Lab and a Digital Lab? (they are unique at our school)
    • What do AP classes look like?
  • I also plan to create simple, short, to-the-point, 1 minute videos for our students that give them tips and tricks on how to use their MacAir, Google Drive, Canvas, Aspen, and more.  One or two a week should be sufficient.
  • And I plan to take a little more control over the information I need about the students in my care. As a result, I’m setting up rules in Aspen to help me track the following (not a complete list):
    • All students with IEPs and 504s to keep up with both academics and discipline issues. These are students that might need an extra layer of support. I’m trying to be more proactive in helping them succeed rather than winding up being the last person they see in a long line of help.
    • Most at-risk students.  For me, these are students that failed 2 or more classes last year.  I want to see their results every 4 1/2 weeks.  I want to reach out to parents and teachers before the problem becomes so great it is no longer recoverable.
    • Absences.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t looked at this as closely as I should have in the past. This year that changes. Kids with excessive absences or repeated tardies have a larger story to tell. I want to have a conversation.

None of these things may be new to you.  But they are new, or newly tweaked, for me.  I don’t think it will be overwhelming. But I’ll let you know.

What are you doing this year to try something new?

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About a week ago I stumbled across the America’s Got Talent audition for a young man named Brian Justin Crump.  It was a moving story that led right into a song that held deep meaning for his circumstances.

Mr. Crump is about 28 years old.  He talked about knowing that he was gay since a very early age.  His being gay was the cause of a lot of bullying, isolation, and loneliness in school.  He thanked his mom for being by his side during all those years.  And then he sang Queen’s Somebody to Love.

I shared that video out on Facebook with a statement about what a moving story this was.

Later, he came back for a second audition singing Radiohead’s Creep.  Again, the snippets of his personal life were retold with more from  his mother.  It was even better than the first audition.  It was amazing.  It was powerful. I loved it.

But that is not the whole story.

I was so enamored with this young man, I decided to see if there were other YouTube videos of him singing.  There were.  Professionally made videos.  They were good, but not as powerful as the live act (videos rarely are).

I stepped outside of YouTube and did a basic Google search for Brian Justin Crum.  He has a website.  He has been on Broadway. He has performed in Wicked.  He has played in Grease.  He also starred in We Will Rock You, a rock theatrical tribute to Queen.  (Interesting that his first song choice came from Queen, no?) He has performed with Brian May and Roger Taylor, original members of Queen.  He won “Best Actor In A Musical.”

His story is true, but it is incomplete.  And for television, probably deliberately so.  And, as a disclaimer, even after finding out more about this young man, I have still watched his performance of Creep several times.  It is powerful.

Which story is going to captivate the imaginations of the judges, the live audience, and YouTube viewers?  The story of the bullied kid who just wants to find his place in the world?  Or the story of the award winning Broadway star who saunters on stage to compete against six-year old comedians?

These are the kinds of questions we need our students to ask.

  • Am I reacting rationally or emotionally to these facts?
  • Is this the whole story?
  • Why did they choose to tell me an incomplete story?
  • Do I feel the same about this since knowing the entire story?
  • Have my feelings about the person telling me the story changed now that I know more?
  • Even after finding out there is more to the story, do I still know enough?

And after our kids have been digging for a while to uncover truths that only come from critical thinking and open-mindedness, remind them of one thing.

Keep digging.

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Yesterday on Facebook I shared a small experiment someone else had shared.  A person I don’t know had posted about going to Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page and then Donald Trump’s Facebook page and seeing how many of your own friends have “liked” each of those pages.

This particular person had so many more Trump supporting friends than Clinton that he came to the conclusion only voter fraud could help her win the election.  (A conclusion I do not share, by the way).

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 5.33.58 AMSo I did my own.  You can see the results in the image embedded in this post.  I, too, have about twice as many friends that have “liked” the Trump page than I do those who have “liked” the Clinton page.  I added a third choice candidate, Gary Johnson, to my findings just to be thorough.

Now, to be sure, this poll is completely unscientific.  Some have offered comments on my post that Democrats are “quieter” online than Republicans.  Or that many of the Trump “likes” are just people hoping to see what he might say next without truly supporting him (kind of like watching a train wreck).  Both of those could be layered in an aspect of truth, I suppose.

But to me, the questions raised are larger than any attempts to try to make sense of the data.  Here are a few that bother me, and that could lead to discussions with older students in your classrooms (not necessarily about the election). And remember, I don’t support or follow either of these two leading candidates, which is why these questions are important to me:

  • If one group of people in this experiment are at least double the number of any other group, does that say anything about your own life choices outside of this experiment?
  • If one group of people in this experiment are at least double the number of any other group, what does that say about the kind of information you are exposed to on social media on a daily basis?
  • If one group of people in this experiment are at least double the number of any other group, do you find yourself agreeing more with what they post than what the other groups post on social media?
  • If one group of people in this experiment are at least double the number of any other group, do you find yourself thinking differently about the people in the smaller groups when you see what they post on social media?
  • If one group of people in this experiment are at least double the number of any other group, is it important to you to try to remedy that by finding other social media connections that would even out the results?

Bias is an important question for me in social media at all times.  I try to look for bias in the news (its pretty easy to find).  We can find bias in the interviews done on late night television.  We even find bias on the websites we visit.  The algorithms of social media are such that every website you join is trying to find “more of what you like” to make your experience as pleasing as possible. By doing so, they are, by default, minimizing your contact with those who think differently than you.  And what does that do to you?  How does that change you?

Do we even know who we are online?

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BF Skinner wrote the book, literally, on operant conditioning.  And while there are many reasons not to offer extrinsic rewards in an education environment (students should want to learn for the sake of learning, right?), there are ways in which we can utilize the approach in, perhaps, a productive manner.

RewardsIn his interview on the Curious Minds podcast, Nir Eyal mentioned this idea of random rewards as it relates to marketing and creating habits among buyers or app users.

In an early study on operant conditioning a chicken was placed in an environment with a target on which to peck.  When the chicken pecked on the target, a food pellet dropped out.  Whenever the chicken was hungry, it pecked.  When it was no longer hungry, it stopped.

Then they changed the conditions.  Now when the chicken pecked on the target, the food pellets were dispersed randomly.  Sometimes they got a food pellet.  Other times they did not.  There was no order to the dispersement.  It wasn’t every 10th peck, or every 3rd.  It was random.

The result?  The chickens who received random rewards pecked more times on the target.  They worked harder for the reward.

When you tie this to the IKEA Effect mentioned in my last post, you get a very powerful way to create a habit of work.  We are more satisfied with things we make ourselves (IKEA Effect), and with random rewards we will work harder.  Could it be that we would be more satisfied as well?

Random Rewards does not equate random consequences.  If a student misbehaves in class, the behavior needs to be addressed quickly, fairly, and consistently in order to bring order back to the possible chaos.

But rewards.  That’s a different story.

Recently, in a faculty meeting at my school we had this discussion.  Some teachers felt that they needed to grade everything they assign.  Without a grade, the student would not be “conditioned” (my word, not theirs) to do the work.  They would let it slide.  Other teachers felt this was just making the burden too hard on the teacher.  Not everything, they argued, needed to be graded.

So, what if we did Random Rewards for grades?  What if they never knew which assignment would receive a grade?  What if grade book input happened in a totally random fashion?  I’m assuming here, of course, that the assignments would be equal in value, so you wouldn’t randomly choose a 20 point quiz over a 100 point test.

What if we did Random Rewards for the bulletin board?  Totally random.  Not just the best work.  Not everyone’s work.  Draw a circle on the floor, throw the assignments in the air, and put up only the ones that fall inside the circle.  Or use a random number table.  Would students be more apt to do better work knowing that, at some point, what they turn in will be seen by the entire class?  Or, perhaps, by the world if your bulletin board is a class blog?

Are there other ways the Law of Random Rewards could benefit your students?  Your class?  Your own sanity?

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(NOTE: Has it really been since November that I’ve posted to this blog?  Wow!)

I’ve had a similar interesting interaction with two fast food chains today.  On their own, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it so much, but taken together it really started to turn the engines in my mind.

Ordinarily, when I stop at McDonald’s to get breakfast on the way to work, I go through the drive-through.  If you ever want a really good experience, go through the breakfast drive-through window at the McDonald’s on Gunbarrel Road in Chattanooga.  They are fast, friendly, and accurate.  All smiles and have-a-nice-days.

Today, however, I went inside.  It was as different as night and day.  The help was slow to take my order.  They took forever to get it together.  They seemed inconvenienced by the customers in line.  And I left feeling very disgruntled about the whole experience.

Same place.  Two different views.

Tonight I hit the same thing.  I decided to go to Chick-fil-A to grab a sandwich on the way home.  I like Chick-fil-A drive-throughs. They are so courteous on the speakers.  They encourage you to have a nice day.  They are polite and all smiles all the time.

But tonight I decided I wanted to go inside for a few minutes and just unwind a bit before the last 1/2 mile home. It was deja vu all over again.  There were 7 people standing around behind the counter.  One lone girl was trying to take everyone’s order.  The manager was standing talking to a friend of his at the end of the counter. I was almost ready to turn around and walk out when there was finally an opening for me at the register.  No smiles.  No I’m sorry for you wait.

Same place.  Two different views.

As is my habit, this got me to thinking about teacher observations and how scores can be all over the map at times.

Same Teacher.  Two observers.

Same Teacher. Two classrooms

Same Teacher. Two days.

We can’t be on our game 100% of the time.  Sometimes we’re going to forget to ask the harder questions.  Sometimes our lesson plans don’t allow for grouping.  Sometimes kids act out.  Sometimes the technology doesn’t work.  Sometimes there simply isn’t a problem to solve.

But what I do see, and what other administrators tell me they see, are teachers that are hard at work every single day making a difference in the lives of their students.  I see teachers that care.  I see teachers that want success for every single student.  I see teachers that meet with kids before school, after school, on planning periods, over lunch, and in between classes.  I see teachers that answer emails long into the night.  I see teachers that don’t stop working just because they are on vacation.  Or sick.  Or out of the building for professional development.

Most of the time we get it right. So, let’s not dwell on the times we don’t.

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Jul-21-2014

#TYIW

Posted by Tim under Personal, Professional Development

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 3.05.18 PMAt the DEN Summer Institute this past week we were all wowed by the incomparable Adam Bellow and his insane energy combined with his even more insanely genius presentation style.  During his keynote, he challenged us to take a selfie and post to Instagram with the hashtag #TYIW.  That stands for “This Year I Will…”  I haven’t used my Instagram account in, oh I don’t know, forever.  So I haven’t posted a selfie…yet.

But the thought has been nagging at the outer edges of my brain, and so I thought I would at least begin the process of writing down some of the things swirling around in my head.  I don’t think of them as New Year’s resolutions.  They are more hopeful than that.  So here goes nothing.

  • #TYIW blog more often.  It is a release for me.  I love to write.  It doesn’t matter if anyone wants to read it.  It is cathartic.  And I need catharsis.
  • #TYIW stay on top of my calendar.  Toward the end of the last school year (and by that I mean September) I was way behind and feeling quite overwhelmed.  I was forgetting about meetings and playing catch-up with teacher observations.  I simply must do this one.
  • #TYIW take more pictures.  I am still very much an amateur at this thing, but I love doing it.  It is a peaceful endeavor that brings a silence to my soul. I look for pictures that tell stories because I’m a writer first and photographer second.  And I need more pictures in my blog posts.
  • #TYIW eat healthy.  This one has been nagging at me for months.  I eat horrible stuff.  Far too much fried foods, fast foods, and fattening foods.  I need more real food.  Well, I need more of it, but less food overall.
  • #TYIW walk more.  I’m counting steps and flights of stairs, and I am constantly amazed at how much I sit.  I need to walk before work, during work, and after work.  I want to hike again.  And I’ve neglected some hiking MeetUp groups.  It has to change.
  • #TYIW run at least one 5K.  I’ve challenged my daughter, Sarah, to get in shape because we are running a 5K when she moves back to Chattanooga.  And then I’m going to run 5Ks with Rebekah Ellis, LeaAnn Daugherty, and Kimberly Wright (to name a few).  I’ll be a 5K running fool!
  • #TYIW connect more with my own family.  I live with my mom, but I don’t see her enough.  I don’t see my own kids enough.  And I certainly don’t see my grandkids enough.  I can’t live with the thought that when I’m gone they won’t know the difference.
  • #TYIW take my CoffeeTime videos to new places.  I haven’t made one in nearly 3 months.  I like doing them. And I don’t want it to be another endeavor I started but didn’t follow through.  Far too many of those in my past.
  • #TYIW get to 200 pounds.  My knees will thank me.  And my double chin will nearly be gone.
  • #TYIW go to fewer conferences on my own time and visit more friends.  My summer was shot this year.  I spread myself too thin with 6 conferences since school let out.  I need to take my free time and connect with people I love across the country.
  • #TYIW do at least one thing that scares me.  I am a creature of habit.  I like my bubble.  But climbing the Beehive with Sarah showed me that I need new and exciting things in my life.  And I’ve already looked at prices for taking a flight in a glider plane.
  • #TYIW stop giving myself all the reasons why I can’t and finally decide I can.  And that means everything.  Every day.  I talk myself out of so much.  I need to talk myself into stuff.
  • #TYIW look up from my iOS devices more.  Yeah, OK, that’s probably not going to happen.
  • #TYIW ask more questions than I give answers.  DENnis Grice did a phenomenal job with his DEN Speaks talk by doing an entire 5 minute presentation with questions only.  It reminded me of the power of questions.

Those are some of the things that I know of as of today.  And this blog post will serve as an assessment of my progress months from now as I reflect on what I’ve written here and bring them back to my memory.

So, what about you?  What #TYIW comment would  you like to leave below?

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There are many educational phrases of which I am now extremely and overly tired.  “Data Driven” is definitely one of them.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am a data kind of guy.  I love looking at big, broad brush stroke pictures of data and look at emerging patterns, making assumptions, trying new things, analyzing the end results, tweaking (sometimes scrapping) plans for improvement.  And for that we need data.

But then the questions comes down to, “What data?”

I’m trying to put the finishing touches on a presentation I’m giving in four days at the Midlands Tech Summit called “From Data Driven to Data Informed.”  I know what I want to say.  What I need to say.  It isn’t that I’m lost for words (I rarely am when it comes to opinions about education).

But Data Driven has long passed the “catch phrase” stage.  It is now embedded in the education culture.  It has been tossed around so long, that to question its validity, to question its use, to offer a dissenting opinion is an anathema.  People are labeled as rebels.  As the enemy at times.

The problem with Data Driven is that it is an insatiable monster.  It is the largest black hole of educational space.  It has the ability to suck everything else into its cavernous mouth.  Everything is data and data is everything.  And we collect it, in true research fashion, there is always more to collect.

And maybe this is the problem.  Perhaps we are conducting our look at data like a research project.  I  nearly finished my dissertation for a PhD in Assessment and Evaluation.  I know that’s meaningless.  “Nearly” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades as the saying goes.  But I learned this one thing in the process.  Research does not provide us answers.  It provides us data that informs ever deeper questions for more research.

And Data Driven has done just that to/for education.  We used to test 4th, 8th, and 11th grades as “benchmark grades” to see the trajectory of student learning.  But then we started testing grades 3 to 12 because we needed to see more data points between those original three grades.  Then we added specific testing for reading levels.  More testing for interventions.  More benchmarks to show us probabilities of how students would perform on the “real” benchmarks. Then we decided we needed to add grades K-2 into the mix.

If we’re not careful we’ll soon be to the point of assessing in utero.

Assessment is good.  Data is good.  Data Driven?  I’m no longer a believer.

As educators we should have always been, are, and should always be student driven.  Oh, I know the arguments.  We need data for that.  Perhaps.  To a degree.  But you know what we need more than data?

Relationships.

Students need to know that we care about them as individuals and not data points.  We need to be a safe haven in their tumultuous growing up years.  We need to work alongside parents and guardians (and yes, the village) in making sure that each student has an opportunity to become who they were born to be.

I have failed at this in so many ways with my own children when they were growing up.  All three of them have distinctly different personalities.  All three are driven by different things. All three want to head into life in very different directions.  And I made the honest (?) mistake of trying to get them all to go down the same road.  To take the same path toward adulthood.

Nothing has bothered me more as a parent than my failure to understand the individuality of my children.  A mistake I am trying to change with them as adults, and with their own children.  I have five wonderful grand children.  Each with his/her own distinct personality and ways of being in the world.

And nothing has bothered me more as an educator than my failure to understand the individuality of my students when I started teaching.  A mistake I am trying to change as an administrator.

Sometimes it is as easy as changing my own personal paradigm from “I teach English” to “I teach children.”

Yes, I need to be data informed.  I need valid, reliable spot checks of progress.  Its like missing the turn called out to me from my Google Maps app.  The app looks at the data and recalculates a path that will put me back on the right track.  But you know what else that app does?  It gives me at least 3 different paths to get to my destination.

And I have the power to choose.

Ultimately, that’s the most powerful power we have.

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