Tag Archives: Data Gathering

Data Analysis Time

3 Mar


Leading a conversation about data can be a daunting task. Data analysis is an emotional experience for classroom teachers and senior leaders alike. When teacher teams analyse classroom and course analysis data, they often experience something similar to the Five Stages of Grief (Kübler-Ross & Kessler, 2005). The five stages for teacher teams are similar because each person on the team may experience a different emotional reaction to the data that is presented.

In my course analysis korero I ask staff to reflect on the last time you or your teacher team reviewed data from a common formative assessment, NCEA, benchmark scores, or feedback from a school audit or ERO. Did you experience any of the emotions listed Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression or Acceptance?

Were you frustrated because some members of the team denied the data? When teachers see data for the first time they may experience anger, denial, or depression. The initial reaction will not be the same for all teachers in a school and it is important to remember that the five stages are not linear. In my role, I hope that all members of the teacher team ‘accept’ the test data and develop SMART goals to address the strengths and weaknesses highlighted in the data report. The reality is that some teachers may not be able to ‘accept’ the data. If you are on a teacher team with six members and your third period class had the lowest scores, then you may experience denial or anger.

Douglas Reeves offers Five Tips for Effective Data Teams. Reeves’ cautions educators to remember “Data Trumps Opinion.” When teacher teams meet to analyze data about students, more informed decisions about curriculum and instruction. Teachers can use data analysis tools and protocols to assist each person with the range of emotions associated with test data. Leadership involves assessing the current reality and facilitating crucial conversations.


Classroom Walkthroughs

17 Jan


Conducting classroom walkthroughs is not a new concept. This year as a Leader of Learning group I would like to pursue these further. These can be powerful tools but only when used correctly. Here are some of my thoughts on these:

  1. Do it together.

It is a partnership. Classroom walk-throughs are not meant to be conducted in isolation. Have staff walk through classroom. This way, the teachers conducting the walkthroughs can debrief after each visit, discussing what strategies the teacher was utilizing. Make it safe and relational. You want staff to embrace and discuss the data, not be defensive. It can be stressful so to avoid this concern, leave a post-it note on the teacher’s desk at the end. Pick out one positive instructional element and praise them for it. This will put them at ease and open the door for future conversations.

  1. Purposeful and Authentic

Classroom walk-throughs need to be a priority. Time must be scheduled to do these. It is important that these are at different times of the day.

  1. Share the Data

Like in any case collecting data will not be of any service to anyone unless it is shared, analyzed, discussed and acted upon. Remember to be clinical, not critical with the analysis. Use the Data To Make Change. Remember data is useless unless you do something with it. Once the data is analyzed, discussed, and digested, use the data to decide where you need to go with professional development.

Have you had much success with classroom walkthroughs? Have you any tips for me as I go forward with these?

Trend Four: Data Driven Organisations

17 Mar

Trend FourData-word-cloud

I love analytics. Moneyball, Brad Pitt aside, is one of my favorite all time movies. Analytics, according to Wikipedia, is “the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data.”

New technologies make it all possible as they provide massive storage for any kind of data, enormous processing power and the ability to handle virtually limitless concurrent tasks or jobs.

In New Zealand, we can see this trend in data driven organisations. The government has set up the New Zealand Data Futures Forum to guide thinking about the use of data in response to questions such as “Who has what data about me/us and what will they be doing with it?” “What data do I/we have access to that can help us?”.

Using analytics goes well beyond formal reporting or collation of results, enabling a deeper understanding of your students by harnessing longitudinal data and cross-referencing with multitude of different data-sets both internal and external to the school.

Have you ever wrestled with how exactly to measure the value-add of your school beyond delivering the prescribed curriculum? What about understanding how your pedagogical framework is driving improvement in outcomes, or greater engagement? Learning analytics can help to demystify some of these questions, providing quantitative data to measure and assess the success of various programs in your school.

Using various data-sets, and supported by the right tools, it becomes easier to cross-reference aspects such as how students who learn a language compare against overall scores. Or to look at the academic progression of students who are involved in school sport. Predicting and then evaluating actual performance against widely-recognized bench-marking also becomes more simple, and an activity that a school can undertake of their own accord where once a consultant was almost always required. Learning analytics has been crucial to building better pedagogical based on insights into student interactions with such things as new curriculum content, online learning and new technology platforms.  Learning Analytics helps leaders measure whether changes have been effective and should be sustained.

One common fear associated with learning analytics in schools is the concern it will become a tool to put teachers under the microscope and a way of attacking their performance. In fact, the positive information and analysis associated with learning analytics far outweighs any of these concerns, most of which go unfounded. Teachers and school leadership alike genuinely want to find better ways to support their students on their learning journeys – and all the better if the pedagogy or policy is informed by real data, rather than guesswork. None of this is to say that a professional educator’s eye is still not a key piece of the puzzle, it is in fact imperative as anyone will tell: data itself does not provide the answers, but points savvy educators toward sharper questions and deeper understanding. Thus, empowered with new hypotheses, educators and leaders alike can scrutinize data and apply their professional judgments to further enrich the data, and encourage a culture of continuous improvement across the board.

Students are also beginning to experience the benefits of learning analytics as they engage with mobile and online platforms that track data to create responsive, personalised learning experiences with adaptive learning and assessment. This can then help students to monitor their own progress and take ownership for their learning, which, per Hattie and others, has significant positive effect on achievement.

Review and Reflection

26 Feb

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ERO asked us in 2016 how do we know students are learning and how do we know acceleration is taking place?

As we enter 2017, we continue to ask this important question. While standardized tests provide data on student understanding, the data comes at the end of the year. Teachers need actionable data and strategies for supporting all students during the school year. How will your school staff measure if students are learning?

The idea of using leading and lagging indicators to measure the health of an organization was introduced by Robert Kaplan and David Norton (1993). The premise behind their theory is that lagging indicators will tell you nothing about how the outcomes were achieved, in the absence of leading indicators. Leading indicators provide early warnings about being on track to achieve your strategic goals. Lagging indicators measure what has already taken place. In the absence of clear indicators, teachers and administrators will be unable to measure student learning in a timely manner.

The danger in focusing on outcome measures is that most teachers feel powerless to impact change. Indicators should be “actionable at the school level, meaning that school leaders, teachers, and staff can use them to make changes that will have a demonstrable impact on student outcomes” (Pinkus, 2009, p. 5). As you establish New Year’s resolutions and professional goals, ask the following questions. When teacher teams have clear indicators, it will support all students.

 10 Ways To Measure Student Understanding

  1. Does our team/course have SMART goals? (DuFour, 2014)
  2. Do you administer common formative assessments?
  3. Does each teacher understand the Priority Learners Document?”
  4. Do you have a plan for when students don’t learn?
  5. Do you have a plan for students who need acceleration?
  6. Have you identified data points that we will measure throughout the semester?
  7. Do we have rubrics and exemplar work so teachers, students and families can identify opportunities for growth?
  8. Do you have a clear Response to Intervention (RtI) program or is RtI left to each teacher?
  9. Do you have scheduled meetings when data is discussed or do we hope the conversation will take place during passing period?
  10. Have you considered our Maori student achievement and acceleration in our work?



Just Thinking…

17 Aug

Deep learning is the basis on which I instruct my students; whether it is through the use of practical thinking skills, human dimension activities, and/or data gathering. Even with a subject like Religious Studies this is common. Staff are role modelling this in our College with the use of their learning plans.


Engaging students actively in their own learning, and encouraging understanding of presented materials, should be the main goal of all educators. As an advocate for student learning and success, I am obliged to help move students towards their goals through the implementation of deep learning strategies in the classroom.


Practical thinking skills are an essential part of my lesson planning. Students are most likely to be interested in classroom activities when they feel an emotional connection to the lesson on any level. Practical thinking strategies involve connecting curricular activities to real-life experiences, in hopes to evoke critical thinking. My goal as an educator is to ensure that all my students are higher-level thinkers, moving from basic knowledge level-based learning to evaluation level-based learning. Through problem-solving and decision-making activities, my students are capable to answer questions, make decisions, and solve problems successfully.


Human dimension activities also play an essential role in my lesson planning. By the time my students leave my classroom, they learn to take pride in their accomplishments, see the importance of community building, learn how to stay positive, and mentor and/or develop accountability among their peers. Students reach these goals because my classroom is a community of productive citizens working together to reach success. We are a chain, and we are only as strong as our weakest link. We have class meetings to discuss challenges we may face daily in the classroom in search for positive solutions. This brings stability to my classroom and makes each person accountable for their actions individually and collectively. Indirectly, students take ownership and pride in being a citizen of my classroom, and they succeed academically in the process.


Data gathering is incredibly significant to the way I plan my lessons. This deep learning characteristic gives my students the opportunities to practice and develop their abilities to make and record observations, research and record factual information, and report findings accurately and effectively. I never want my students to get in the routine of completing mundane assignments, to the point weekly instruction becomes predictable and uninteresting.


As you can see, deep learning is pivotal to successful teaching and learning in my classroom. When my students are learning and being transformed in the process, I feel accomplished. Implementing deep learning takes dedication and successful planning, but it is well worth it in the end. Besides, as an educator I am here to service the needs of my students and I plan to do just that for as long as I can.


Wise Words

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

– Jim Rohn

This really struck me that we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to the people we work closely with. By this I mean we need to support those around us to develop and grow to raise the average among us. I have used this in all aspects of my life recently. Be it at work or training for an ironman.


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