When it comes to presenting data, protocols for data, and the administrative use and sharing of data – there’s a lot to know. High level stats, privacy rights, statistical coding, and more… yet we ask professionals who are experts at lesson design to be aware of all of this and how to leverage data to measure effectiveness. I simplify it down to one simple rule:
Someone in my role can shoulder some of the ambiguities around data and can help educators focus on the inquiry. Here is how I build wonder:
Pick Provocative and Relevant Questions
It’s the heart of good teaching – the learning should be relevant, timely, and on the tip of the learners brain. I listen and listen and try to get to the core of their wondering. Many people focus on SMART goals or some format to their questioning and action plans, but I find that these prescriptions remove authenticity. Keep the questions in the own words of the questioner.
Make Data Simple
This is the part that can make or break good inquiry. The work should be exciting, not limiting. Data collection can be as simple as a pre-post 10 question survey. Or just quickly screenshotting achievement data from an online grade book. Just being able to talk through easy methods can make teachers excited to see what the data says.
Share the projects’ progress, follow up regularly for anecdotes, and set a date for data analysis. Professional Learning projects often get left by the wayside when the ebbs and flows of work stress take precedence.
Make the Data Beautiful
You can wreck a good data talk with a built-in, spreadsheet-made, graph. Truly. People don’t feel that their data is impressive when it isn’t beautiful and I find simple bar graphs to be one of the easiest ways to dull excitement.
Own the Results
Allow for pride in your results! If a teacher is new to the data process, we hope that there are some beneficial take aways. Professionals who have spent more time in a data cycle know it is just as important to share null results or to conclude that more research needs to be done. In either case, find meaningful ways to validate the work and findings.
You probably noticed this feels more like an inquiry based lesson. Too often we incorrectly assume that only students benefit from good lesson design, instead subjecting professionals to absorbing information rather than interacting.