Whitney Green is an assistant principal at Ooltewah Elementary in Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga, TN. She currently leads the implementation of EL K-5th and is taking full advantage of utilizing Kiddom within the classrooms at Ooltewah Elementary as both have positively affected her students success this year. She is excited to share her drive and her experiences with others.
Digital tools can help to keep everyone organized and even enable targeted instruction. But they can also provide rich data that supercharges every step in the instructional cycle. Here are some ways to use data to support teachers and keep them accountable during this busy season!
Inspect what you expect
One of the worst things you can do is expect something from your teachers but you don’t actually ever inspect it. Teachers become accustomed to administrators giving guidelines or expectations, but following through to make sure it is being done seems to be uncommon. Administrators become bogged down in day to day operations and can find themselves spread too thin.
Administration needs to make it a priority to ensure the time and effort they are expecting teachers to make on something, they too are doing the same. For example, I am at a new school where lesson plans have never been required. I was a little shocked to hear this, but the reality is, there are schools everywhere that operate without lesson plans. So as an administrative team, we have made it a requirement to have lesson plans uploaded to a shared Google Drive folder. We are not checking the lesson plans daily, as this would take all of our time. Instead, when we go into classrooms for observations, we are able to pull up their lesson plans. Can I tell you right now that all of the teachers have developed lesson plans? The answer is no. But, we are creating accountability with this new system because we are able to address their lack of lesson planning or provide feedback on how to improve their lesson plans.
This also supports our requirement of collaboratively planning at least twice a week with their teammates. When we observe multiple teachers in the same department and see drastically different lessons, we also have conversations around this. I believe next year we are going to take this a step further. Each administrator will check a set of lesson plans each Monday. This is not to scour them with a fine tooth comb, but rather to make sure they are planned and uploaded in time. This tip actually came from a friend of mine who also is a high school administrator.
I am the type of administrator that likes to be very clear and specific in what I am expecting. For example, creating expectations for how often and how we are using specific programs/resources we are requiring of them to use. The great part about technology today is that all programs typically have an administrator account. This allows leaders to be able to track how often teachers are utilizing the program. With programs like Kiddom and Mastery Connect, I have set specific parameters around how often and how we are using these programs. Both platforms were purchased by our district and I actually had the privilege of vetting both platforms. Knowing the value of both, I do require teachers to use them on a daily basis. I am able to track how often teachers are using the platforms as I have access to see the usage. This is a great benefit to both of these platforms. I know some may think it is overkill or that I’m being too controlling, but the reality is without setting requirements, a new technology program may never be implemented or used. I know as a teacher, sometimes I needed that push otherwise I probably never would have done it on my own. There is a “but” here, if you do have requirements like this. You have to train them and provide support throughout the year, otherwise it is an unrealistic expectation. I will talk more about this training in a later section of this article, Proactive PD.
One of my favorite sayings is, data doesn’t lie. Data takes the personal out of it and it typically tells a story. Anytime we get data back from a district benchmark assessment, we will have individual meetings with each teacher around their data. We set goals with them and focus on both what best practices they should keep or what they need to do differently. We also set team goals, and we are provided data that allows for individual teacher growth and team growth. We often hear from teachers, “my students are different and they need different things than the other classes.” This is true to a certain degree. I sometimes hear this from teachers who struggle to collaboratively plan as they tend to not maximize their time during planning. The teacher must be able to identify the needs of their students through data. Being prescriptive with their students is part of personalization data.
Standard mastery data
Teachers nowadays have the gift of standards-based mastery data that was not available to me when I was a teacher. I honestly would have been a way better teacher if I had this as an option. There are so many programs and platforms that allow for teachers to collect real time data that is aligned directly with the standards. It takes the guesswork out of creating assessments that you think may align with the standards. Based on our state data, we were not doing a great job at this.
Kiddom is one platform we have specifically utilized within our district that does standard based assessments, providing data on the effectiveness of mastery towards the standards. In our district, we have standards based report cards for K-2nd. These report cards have to be one of the toughest and most time consuming parts of teaching in the primary grades. K-2nd teachers dread when report cards are due for this reason. Using the standards-based mastery reporting takes the guesswork out of knowing how and where a student is progressing. We utilize our benchmark data to fill out our report cards as they align directly with our state standards. There has been a lot of conversation around 3rd-12th having standards based reporting, as right now, they just receive a percentage grade. I am now an administrator in a high school, and I can honestly say that I do not believe we are accurately scoring students based on the standards, but more of a completion grade.
If you are going to require teachers to utilize specific platforms or programs, then you need to provide heavy training on the front end, and throughout the year. A lot of these new programs only provide teachers with basic training at the beginning of the school year, with no support throughout. This is a disservice to the teachers and the students. It would be like asking someone to be good at riding a bike with only one day of training which is completely unrealistic.
Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.
For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.
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