Informed Decision Making
"A brainscan cannot interpret itself and neither can a data dashboard in education." -Andy Hargreaves
My skills, abilities, and experiences in making informed decisions about teaching and learning:
Although it is true that some people have a natural teaching ability while others have to work at it, all teachers can be made more effective by seeking information and analyzing student data. In my limited teaching experience I have already learned that by making informed decisions regarding my students' demographics, learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, and preferences, and incorporating that information in my instruction, my students are the ones who benefit.
I have become fairly adept at interpreting the body language of my students including posture, facial cues, and the number of times they try to reach for their cell phones. I use these cues to improve future lessons and to adapt instruction on the fly. This skill is one that teachers hone and develop over time and is a type of formative assessment. Information based decisions are more straightforward.
Each time my students are summatively assessed (think of a typical test), my team and I comb through the results to discover which TEKS have been learned and which need to be spiraled and retaught. We do this in a professional learning community (PLC) meeting at least once a week. If the students haven't been recently tested we use quizzes or homework assignments to gain as much insight into their current learning as possible.
Informed decision making regarding teaching and learning with technology:
Technology has made this process exponentially easier by allowing me to run reports on tests and online games or assessments. Observe the artifact below which I have provided (with students' names changed). This report was run from a simple website that I have often utilized for review called Quizizz.com. We were able to use this data to determine which concepts our students needed clarification on, in addition to reflecting on our own instruction of the material.
In order to be the best and most informed teacher I can be, I often attend professional development training. Professional development is an expectation for all teachers, however I do my best to attend all the trainings I can while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Two examples of those trainings are shown below.
On the left is a certificate I received for being trained on how to best support my ELL/LEP students by using the ELPS. This was a required training for me, and as a teacher of low level high school mathematics (including inclusion classes) I found the information to be extremely useful. Attending trainings such as these constitute a best practice in order to be an effective teacher.
On the right is a certification I received for a course that was not required of me. I wanted information about how to better support the PreAP geometry students I taught last year, so I signed up to become certified to teach Gifted and Talented students. This particular certificate is from the fifth day of training which taught me how to give my students choice, with a heavy emphasis on the use of technology.
Drawing upon my abilities to research and identify best practices in making informed decisions about teaching, learning, and technology:
In addition to training and evaluating data, I have also spent time in the "Design Center" on my campus. In the design center teachers work with their team each quarter to design activities, reviews, assessments, units, etc... Teachers are aided by instructional coaches, our media resource specialist, and our technology specialist. Each item created in this specialized center follows Schlechty's rules of design to improve student engagement and teacher motivation. Every lesson is built around best practices and most align well with the TPACK design model.
The artifact shown below is a lesson my team and I built in the Design Center. We wanted our students to be exposed to coding, and we needed to incorporate Algebra to make it applicable to our TEKS. Our knowledge of our students, Shlechty's model of design, and the help of our awesome technology specialists allowed us to create something our students loved! If you are interested in seeing the student work generated by this lesson, go to the "Design and Technology" page of my ePortfolio.
The following data shows the results of the students from my campus for the 2017 Algebra I EOC STAAR test. This data will be analyzed by me, my Algebra team, our instructional coach, and also our district secondary mathematics coordinator. Although the Algebra I TEKS have not changed this year, we will use the data provided about the category totals (and the TEKS when they are published) to guide instructional improvements for the coming school year. We also analyze the 8th grade math STAAR scores of our incoming freshman to determine where they are likely to need the most support.