When education professionals use data correctly there are numerous benefits for the school and students. However, for schools that have never really discussed data before, it can be difficult to know where to start. In order for data to be used effectively, education professionals must meet regularly to analyze the collected data. Below are some tips on how education leaders can ensure that their data-driven meetings are as productive as possible.
Students are Everyone’s Responsibility
If teachers only care about the students in their classroom or feel like they must compete with their colleagues, it’s difficult to examine data as a team. School leaders must develop a culture of shared responsibility and accountability for every student in the school. When a shared sense of responsibility exists in a school, then teachers are more willing to share the data from their classroom. This sharing and specific focus to get results will help create environment in which teachers work together to structure best instructional practice, which will result in individual students excelling in every classroom. For example, a grade level team may track individual and groups of students, ensure corrective actions take place consistently, and meet regularly to discuss student progress.
Disagreement is Okay
While teachers should share the responsibility for every student’s success, that doesn’t mean that everyone will always have to agree. If that collected data shows that a particular student is a poor performer, teachers should speak up if they disagree with the assessment. Data-driven meetings should be collaborative environments where disagreements can arise and be successfully resolved. Disagreements often lead to critical thinking, exposing new ways of looking at things, different way of dissecting data, and different creative solutions. School leaders need to make sure, though, that teachers maintain respect, feel comfortable voicing their opinions in meetings, and keep the focus on the students.
Trusting the Data
Some teachers are wary of data because they fear the possibility of it being used to evaluate their performance in some way. One way that leaders can develop trust is to stress that data, like test results, for instance, is used to improve the school—not to evaluate teacher performance. Honesty is an important ingredient in building trust. Not only must leaders be honest and upfront with teachers, teachers must also be honest for one another. This means being transparent about how data is collected and how it will be used to improve the school.
Start with the Solution
A solution-oriented approach is the best way to approach data. When the collected data doesn’t look good, the team should focus on developing solutions rather than dwelling on individual teacher performance. Focusing on solutions makes the team less judgmental and limits the complaining. Analyzing data is an opportunity for the school to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. It’s ultimately about finding solutions—not punitive measures.
Set Clear Meeting Goals
Data-driven meetings are essential to successful data analysis. However, in order for meetings to be successful school leaders need to set clear goals for each meeting. Teachers should enter meetings knowing what they are expected to accomplish during the discussion. School leaders should understand that every team is different, and some will need more structure than others. One of the best ways to provide structure is supplying discussion protocols. Teachers typically find that these protocols help them stay on track and have productive meetings.