Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More "Data Informed" Conversation...

Today I read a posting on a popular Social Networking site that was a response to a teacher saying he was not looking forward to an upcoming workshop, as it dealt primarily with data. The response said, and I quote, "I don't like the data workshops either, I'm a teacher, I didn't sign up for all that data stuff."

It made me think.

In the evenings, perhaps in the mornings if I wasn't ready the night before, I check the weather forecast to decide what I'm going to wear. I don't want to be uncomfortable if the weather calls for, say, a sweater, and I choose to wear a thin, short sleeve button up.

I also tend to check the traffic report. If I know the highway is backed up, I plan an alternate route to my destination before I ever leave the house.

On Sunday's, we get all the coupons in the paper and as my wife and I sort through them, we try to make informed decisions about where we will shop that week to get the best deal on the products and foods we use.

Does any of this sound familiar? We all make dozens, if not hundreds, of data informed decisions on a daily basis. Rain in the forecast? Perhaps I should mow the yard today. Is that the mailman in the distance? Perhaps if I hustle, he can take this letter so that I don't have to drive to the Post Office. Could that icy glare from my wife signal that I may have said the wrong thing? Perhaps flowers would be a good idea today!

Wisdom guides us to make decisions based on circumstances and previous experiences. It's thinking. It's cause and effect. It's human.

Why would someone not want that same mode of thinking to have an impact on instruction? If we KNOW that a kid is struggling with the understanding of a particular skill, why would we not target instruction toward proficiency in that area? If we know that a group of students is bored with what we're doing, because it's below their high cognitive level, how hard is it, really, to find something that will challenge those students?

It's not easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. And if you are not overjoyed with numbers and what they show, it can be mundane and tedious. But it's still important. Vitally important. As important as water to fish.

Think about it. If you go to the doctor and have a bunch of tests; don't you expect the doctor to pore over those numbers to determine the best course of treatment for whatever ails you? Sure, he could choose to be as "fair" as possible, I mean, he didn't "sign up to deal with all this data stuff;" he just wanted to help people. But if he's fair, and does the same thing for everyone--aspirin, for instance, then everybody with a headache or minor affliction is okay the next morning. But everybody else is dead.

1 comment:

  1. Great points, I find myself making a similar argument when sitting next to someone who laments the data during a meeting. We need the data, whether its to drive instruction, make changes, learn from our mistakes, or celebrate our successes, I want to know more. Even when data or numbers can be twisted to support either side of an argument, I think it supports the need for even more data. I would even go so far as to say that controversial or incorrect data provides instructional opportunities around information literacy and research skills. Thanks for the great post!