Data: Things That Make You Go, “Hmmmm?”

One of the goals in my professional growth plan this year is to improve my own skills in gathering data to guide decision making. Teachers know this, and are hopefully prepared for a small (hopefully) onslaught of data gathering opportunities.

In the last year, we have worked to help develop a sense of trust between staff and administration and between teaching staff members. Traditionally one piece of our classroom support has involved a literacy support teacher being available to help out in a classroom or do small group pull out. Our current teacher will be going out on a maternity leave in less than a month, so we decided to set up that support in a different way. The teacher has been made available  on a ‘sign out’ basis to offer a wider variety of supports. Things like:

  1. Meeting with teachers to discuss students who might need extra support
  2. Covering a class to allow a teacher to work one-on-one with a student
  3. Covering a class to allow a teacher to observe another teacher’s’ classroom
  4. Work with new students to assess their literacy level or cover the class to allow the teacher to do the same.
  5. And probably a few more ideas we didn’t think of.

We’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks, and I knew that there were a few people who have taken advantage of #3. We have made an assumption that this would be a great opportunity to have teachers see some of the great things that are going on. In addition we have a teacher who is a master at integrating innovative technology ideas into her classroom and have set up two blocks per week where teachers can access her skills in the classroom.

I decided to send out a very short google form that basically asked three questions:

  1. I have accessed, or plan to access, the Support Teacher’s time to observe in another class
  2. I would feel comfortable having a colleague observe the great things I am doing in my class
  3. I have accessed or will access technology expertise in my class

So, here’s the interesting results so far

  1. The vast majority of people are willing to access the technology expertise in their class
  2. The vast majority of people are willing to have a colleague observe in their class

    From Flickr Creative Commons

    From Flickr Creative Commons

  3. The majority of people do NOT plan on using the time to observe in another class

So, it would appear that teachers are more than willing to have people observe in their class, but are, for whatever reason, less willing to go to another teacher’s class to observe what is going on. Could it be having to plan for someone to cover their class? Fear of being viewed as ‘needing help’? Not seeing the value in a classroom visit?

There is one thing for certain here. Data can lead to a lot more questions than answers! Now I have more research to do!!!

D Propp

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