Yesterday, during a window of time I try to set aside to read, I read this article. ‘Does Studying Student Data Really Raise Test Scores?’ Good article. Great quote, “Yet understanding students’ weaknesses is only useful if it changes practice. And, to date, evidence suggests that it does not change practice — or student outcomes. Focusing on the problem has likely distracted us from focusing on the solution.”
Again, good article, well researched, well written. With a conclusion that seems like it should floor one. Doing X didn’t change teacher practice.
This shouldn’t floor one.
Let me tell you about one teacher. In this case, she happens to be my wife. 31 years in the classroom. She now works with teachers and technology. She’s absolutely perfect in this role, for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is that she’s got the experience and expertise to ask, “Yeah, and?” If she isn’t convinced that doing X will result in something being better for kids…then good luck with that. Once she is convinced, then watch out. She’s convinced that kids using technology as a tool, not THE tool, is good for kids. Good for their learning, experiences, growth, and potential.
I saw a great line yesterday from a superintendent’s resume. We see in lots of superintendents’ words, the idea that when kids leave school districts, they are prepared for life, careers, etc. This superintendent used the phrase ‘opportunity ready’. That’s a cool phrase and idea. That’s an idea a professionally skeptical teacher, with an open and growing mind, can use in assessing X. Will doing X, allow kids to be opportunity ready as a result? I also like the goal of being opportunity ready…rather than squeezing out a few more points on a standardized test. Seems more healthy in all regards.
Those of us with the great opportunity to work directly with teachers need to throw, “Yeah, and?” into our own work as well. Everything doesn’t work with everybody. Too many priorities means no priorities.
In our district, we are focus on 3 foundational documents and ideas. One, district strategic goals. Two, our instructional framework. Three, collective teacher efficacy. All 3 of which provide rich answers to Yeah, and? The work is connecting these 3 documents and ideas to rich practice, including, sometimes, changing practice.
Regarding the article above. It’s a good thing for teachers to work together, study data, learn where kids are struggling, design learning opportunities for kids, implement those opportunities, review, reflect, enrich, support, and so on. And this work will help kids if the teachers are convinced it will help kids, and are willing to do that which is necessary to help kids, including changing some practice.