“I Don’t Like this Picture of Myself”
Sometimes, the light bulb moment happens unexpectedly. My first year goal for introducing data-enhanced instruction to teachers was to arm them with student profile data dashboards for the first day of school. I wanted to change their paradigm. I didn’t want my teachers to have to have to go through the slow process of learning who their new students were. Instead, I wanted them to know more about their incoming class on Day 1 than they would otherwise have know on Day 30.
I introduced teachers to the Student Profile Data Dashboard program during a PD session that ran just prior to the first day of school. I focused on exploring all of the available data that was now available to them as well as the dashboard’s anticipated benefits for classroom instruction, student engagement, and parental involvement. The reaction by teachers was very positive.
Two weeks later in our first PLC meeting, teachers were asked to provide initial feedback as to their use of the student profile data dashboard. The responding range of classroom anecdotes provided evidence as to the full range of teacher adoption. Some had clearly not yet used their dashboards, while others had already held 1-on-1 conferences with their students. Two teachers had, in fact, asked students to write personal goals based upon this new information that they had about themselves! These were either written on post-it notes or directly on the dashboard.
One teacher shared the candid reaction of one of her lower-achieving students. “I have never seen a picture of myself like this before and I don’t like it!” But rather than pull away from this uncomfortable moment she asked, “What can we do to make it better?”
That is the power of data visualization. It allows the viewer understand a lot of information quickly and in a way that feels non-confrontational. In other words, good data visualization is empowering.
This was my first of many lightbulb moments to come and the source of my first dashboard revision. Now every student profile data dashboard incorporates a special section for students to post their reflections and goals.