Sunday, March 2, 2014

Beyond the Numbers

Slice of Life is sponsored on Tuesdays by Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are posting a slice each day on our blog. Join in! 

When I look at data, I always feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when she has all that money to buy a dress, but no one will wait on her. She finally breaks down and says, “I have all of this, and no one will help me!” Unfortunately, data is a large part of my job as an instructional coach, and the more data I look at, the less sense it makes.

When I share data with students, I try to tell them that those numbers are just a piece of the puzzle that makes up all of the parts of them, that one score doesn't represent them as students. But when we look at data trends, it is difficult for me to spin the numbers for those students who are consistently “under-performing” according to their state data and the other standardized assessments we give in my district. Those students who are in the single-digit percentiles are heart-breakers for me during data conferences. How do you show those kinds of numbers to a student who you know has everything going against him, from his learning disability to his home life to the way all of that affects his behavior in the classroom, and not expect him to be more demoralized than he already is?

Last week I book talked The Selection by Kiera Cass in preparation for our Scholastic Book Fair.  The setting of the story is a future where society has completely broken down into one where people are assigned numbers that indicate social status. . As I’m prepping for my last round of data conferences before PSSA testing beings, I’m wondering if the future may not be closer than it appears, and if we are not on the verge of reducing everyone to numbers that can never truly represent who they really are.

So my job this week is to make sure that my students understand that, even though their government has reduced them to points of data on a graph, that their teachers will always see them as a person who has value and meaning.

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate the dichotomy of supporting children's learning and sharing their current levels of performance in whatever measure. Keeping a growth mindset in both the teacher and students is paramount... and difficult