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Last week, we discussed the importance of empowering students by sharing performance data with them in class.  What we experienced was a positive effect on learning as students analyzed their performance data on the skills they were concentrating on during the unit.  Seeing their performance data motivated students to improve their skill development.  The representation of student performance through bar graphs also painted a more concise visual than just grades in the gradebook.

Part II: Behavioral Data

This week, we want to focus on teachers using formative observation data to improve student behavior. As an instructional coach, I met with a teacher to observe her class. In the pre-conference we discussed what areas she would like me to focus on during my observation. After some discussion, we decided I would track student verbal interactions in the classroom as a couple of students tended to dominate the class in a negative way.  I created a data device to use in my observation. I drafted the classroom seating plan and marked where all students were sitting. I then coded the data device to mark positive, negative or neutral verbal interactions with students. During the observation I marked the data device every time a comment was made and coded it.

Data Analysis

I showed the teacher the data and simply asked, “What does this tell you?” The data overwhelmingly showed the two disruptive students dominating the class with little participation from others. The teacher and I had a good conversation and this experienced teacher asked, “Can I show this data to the students?” We both thought that would be a great idea. The teacher then shared the behavior data with the students and asked them the same question, “What does this tell you?” The students were shocked to see the pattern of the class and made suggestions to their teacher on what they would do to improve and change this dysfunctional pattern. The students used the objective data to take ownership of the problem and become accountable for changing. The two disruptive students developed an action plan to improve the dynamic of the class and allow the others students in class to participate more fully.  Since the observation and action plan, student participation in this particular class has improved.

Conclusion

These last two weeks we have focused on how data can be used to improve student performance.  Using data to make instructional decisions is empowering for teachers. Showing students performance data is equally powerful. Using teacher observations as a tool to improve student performance does not need to be intimidating.  By asking a supervisor, instructional coach, or a colleague to observe your class, you can obtain valuable feedback to improve instruction and academic achievement.

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