Days of Innovation and….Data

I have struggled with the idea of using data.  I don’t think I am alone.  We tend to get ideas, implement them and hope for the best.  And, for the most part, it works….or does it?

Recently, we have been using the power of data to inform our decision-making.  And, I am happy to report that I actually like it!!  In fact, I am secretly in love with data.  Why shouldn’t I be?  After all, it has assisted our transformational journey.  Using the following surveys have led me to believe that there is a process that is itching to be written.  Here is my attempt at shaping the data into a useful cyclical and embedded component to the school.

1,000 Foot View

Think about it.  At this view, you see a big picture.  When I think of Data, I think of the information we gather that gives us a distant view.  In this category, I would place most, if not all quantitative data:  the APORI (Provincial data) and the Tell Them From Me Survey.  These types of data survey a huge number of people and, in the case of APORI, it gets information from most stakeholders.  You can get an understanding of trend, consistencies in data and spot things that might not make sense.  You can cross reference similar items if you are using more than one survey.

100 Foot View

I like quantative data.  The ability to sit down and get impressions of how things are progressing (AND, you can use the data to pin point what you want to get a clearer picture on).  We have used facilitated discussions with stakeholders.  Simply put, we invite students, staff and parents to sit down with a facilitator and talk to us.  What to we talk about?  We talk about the things we have implemented, what their impression of 21st century learning, where we are going and how we can improve.  It has assisted us greatly in justifying why and where we are going.   This kind of data is impactful and in some cases, push us to make decisions we would have never thought of.

1 Foot View

I have been thinking about the most impactful data on teacher practice.  It has to be the on-going feedback they receive from their client; their teachers.  I have been introducing the concept of continuous feedback from students and have some great examples from teachers who are already using the power of this kind of data.  This concept only works if the teacher is using on-going feedback often DURING the course.  In my opinion, after is informative but too late to change anything for those learners currently enrolled in the class.

The Power of On-going Feedback-the Ultimate Data Collection Process

This year, we have been using the power of Google Forms to get quick feedback and data throughout the year.  As mentioned above, I am encouraging teachers to use the Student Engagement Feedback Form.  Beta tested last spring, we gathered 262 responses from students regarding engagement, effort and how well they are learning the outcomes.  To gather feedback from teachers, we are using also using Google forms.  The following is a list of data collected through the Forms feature:

  • Tech Checks Feedback Form (for teachers and students).  Additionally, we go to classrooms 4 times a year with visits to all classes.  Students and teachers who express concerns on the form get personalized service to address the issues
  • 21st Century Learning/School-Based Innovation/AISI Funding – this year, additional funds were available for staff who were trying something different and wanted to access innovative funds.  They had to fill out the form, which included a brief proposal, student benefit from the innovation, how it was tied to school/divisional goals, and a sharing component so others could learn from the innovative practice.  Seventeen staff took advantage of the funds.
  • Learning Walks Gathering Matrix – At SCHS, we use Learning Walks to increase teacher engagement in continuous improvement.  It is one thing to say your school is improving, but how do you know?  Utilizing a triangulated approach to data collection, we ask the kids, we survey, and we observe.  The Learning Walks Gathering Matrix is the observation piece.  When we go on a learning walk, we return to the office and note what we saw under engagement, effort and where the students are in the learning; acquisition, make meaning, transfer.  Additionally, we chart technology use–is it at the ubiquitous stage or is it being used without any purpose.  Further items are:  Takeaway, authenticity of the learning.  No teacher names are charted.  It is strictly for viewing trend.  This form can be compared to the Student Engagement Feedback Form to see if what we “view” is the same as the “perceptions” of students.
  • Individual Meetings-certificated staff, support staff, academic leaders-Rearview Mirror and Windshield 2012-2013 – For the past several years, the Administration has met with staff about where they have been (rearview mirror) and where they are going (windshield).  We use a form to collect this data also.  It will be a great opportunity for us to look at teacher feedback.  It is also an excellent way to gather feedback for school goals and where we want to go for the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Student Engagement Feedback Form – Perfect opportunities to gather feedback from students is during the course.  The Student Engagement Feedback Form is designed to ask students about three things; how engaging is the work, what kind of effort are you putting into this, and is the work taking the learner to “transfer”.  Click here:  Student Engagement Form for access to the document.  This “form” is available on Googledocs.  Students access it through a url and fill it in.  The teacher is able to access the data and the “forms” on Googledocs gathers the feedback in a readable form.  Charts and graphs are available to view for an “at a glance” view.
  • Individual Teachers who Value Student Feedback – Here is one of many examples of on-going data that informs teaching.  A math teacher asks for feedback after every unit in the form of a journal (on Moodle).  I asked her how she got the kids to be honest with her.  Is it not risky to be honest with the teacher who holds your marks in her hands?  She said, “I try my hardest to give them what they request”.  In other words, if they need more practice, she provides this.  If they ask for second tries on exams, she provides this.  You get the picture.  She has made herself trustworthy and impeccable with her word.  Brilliant.

Stuff to remember

Principle based stuff

Academic Leadership – the next steps

Assessment the next steps

Are final exams going to be a thing of the past?

Generative governance – with Helen


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