Thursday, 19 October 2017

Lead Like a Pirate Blog Hop Week 9. Using Stories to Personalise Data.

Prompt #1
How do you strip down your data and make a connection to it to improve outcomes for students? How do you get dialogue happening around your data.?

There is a lot of research stating that data is important because it shows progress or movement and it informs next steps. It shows trends across the school or cluster and informs resourcing and professional development. This is of course all true, but the real value in the data for our children, are the conversations that come out of it. 

I have what I call 'data meetings' each term.  They are not so much about interrogating the data which is important, but about knowing each child and using our collective wisdom to address their needs. The bringing together of the data into a physical space is about confronting the facts and seeing for ourselves, as a collectively responsible team, who these children are and what we all know about them. 

At the first meeting I discuss the research that I have already shared with the team  prior to the meeting. I may use something from "Student Centred Leadership" (Robinson, 2011), or from BES. At this first meeting I  use a physical data board with the names of the children and their OTJ level taken from the baseline data (end of year previous OTJ). The percentages or raw numbers are looked at against expectations. I then read out loud the names of each child in the well below and below expectation and allow those names to sink in before beginning discussions. 

After that I ask some questions:

  1. Are there any surprises?
  2. Is there anyone who you think is in the wrong place?
  3. Do you know why this child (N) is here?  

Next I ask what we know about the children individually. 

  1. Have they performed better in the past?
  2. Is there anything we should know that will help us to cater better for this child's needs?
  3. What has the previous teacher told you about these children? In lots of cases someone on the team has taught those children in the past. This year, two of the four teachers had.
Then in a more general sense:
  1. What have you tried in the past that has had a good impact on learning/engagement/ relationships with children?
  2. How involved have you been with their families? siblings? parents?
  3. What have you tried that hasn't worked?  
I then compile a list of all of the strategies that the teachers in the room have tried before that they feel made a difference. This is a positive feeling brainstorm as teachers start to unlock and share strategies/ideas that they have used in the past. There are lots of "That's right! I used to do that and the kids loved it! as they remember things that had slipped into the background. When the list is at about thirty shared strategies, I then invite the teachers to choose one strategy that they will take away and try for the next 5 weeks. The teachers commit to this (especially helpful if it contributes to their Teaching as Inquiry).

At the end of the 5 week trial, we have another 'data' meeting. There is no data presented, other than anecdotal feedback about how the trial has gone. At this meeting, I will present some more research supporting the trial. This year I used the ERO document on "Raising student Achievement Through Targeted Actions" (2015). I write up the findings so far, as the teachers discuss what has happened. They then commit to either continuing on with the same strategy with changes, or they select another strategy to try. This process usually re energises the teachers and leads them away from the 'same old')

The final 'data' meeting of the year includes the updated data board. This (hopefully!) is another feel good meeting. "Look at the effects of your specific, targeted actions!" We revert to the percentages to see how much difference has been made. Of course we don't have a control group so we don't know if doing nothing would made an impact, but we choose, based on the great improvements, to believe that we have made a difference.  

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Lead Like A Pirate Blog Hop Week 8 - Find The Magic In The People.

Find the Magic in People
Prompt #1
The solution to any school challenge or issue is never just a new program. It is a commitment to the people who are doing the work. It is building a sense of self efficacy in the individuals on your team and convincing them that the magic isn’t in the latest initiative or curriculum mandate - the magic is in them. (pg 94)

​Believe in them, invest in them, build in time for learning and growth, and watch the magic happen.

How do you convey to your staff that the magic lies within them?
We try very hard to value every contribution made by every staff member in the team. We always seek input into new initiatives and often get contributions that may have an effect on the way we proceed, or the system that we are  introducing. We in the Senior Leadership team do not profess to know all of the answers. We are modelling collaboration and collective wisdom just as we expect our teams to do. What we do endeavour to promise though is that together we will work out the answers to the tricky questions.
We are very fortunate that for now we are able to release two teams for three hours every week to enable them to find the magic together. In this three hours we have some time for: professional development; some for looking at practice and systems and how to improve; and also time for planning together as a team.
I am continually impressed by the quality of the professional dialogue that is at the forefront of innovative practices. In the last week of the term I sat with the year 5/6 team on planning day and I was so impressed with the open to learning conversations that were going on. As the team pondered over the driving question for the next project, they demonstrated good will, humour and flexibility throughout our discussions. They examined the driving question from all angles and looked deeply at what it was they wanted the children to understand, and how they would get there. They really did wrangle with the question. As one of the team commented "Who would have thought we would end up here from when we started to look at this idea?" There is definitely magic in these people...