You cannot create a culture of continuous improvement until teachers and administrators truly embrace the use of data. You also cannot underestimate the difficulty of this task! I can tell you from experience that until your organization is ready to embrace the concept of continuous improvement, being the “data guy” is a lonely profession. Especially in the early stages of developmental change, you will feel like an island unto yourself desperately seeking a kindred spirit, someone who has also seen the light!
Then it happens, you meet a principal of district leader who says, “I’m a data guy (or gal)”. Your heart starts to palpitate, your palms get sweaty. Finally, this is it! This is what you’ve been looking for! You are about to move out of the cubical in the back corner of the room! You now have powerful sponsor and a path forward!
No you don’t and if you allow yourself to go down this path, you will be wasting your precious time!
It’s time to face the facts, YOU alone are the “data guy” and everyone else, to differing degrees, is inherently uncomfortable with data. YOU alone are in the best position to champion the use of data to the masses. Why? Because no one else loves data more than the person who labored on and gave birth to its analysis, charts and dashboards!
Start off with the key decision maker. Use operational data to simplify and enrich her responsibilities. Model the type of relationship that this person will need to have with her subordinates. Constantly remind them that it’s not about making honest mistakes, this is just the process of continuous improvement. When handled properly, data use is contagious because the positive results can be so easily seen and appreciated. I know, I’ve done it both ways!