Why My Practice Is Data-Informed, But Student-Driven

Greg Moffitt

by | 08.1.19

Greg Moffitt is an educator in California. Follow him on Twitter @Greg_Moffitt.

Data does not drive me. I do not wake up in the morning and think, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to go into my school and get some data today.’ That is not what gets me out of bed, and it’s not why I race into school each and every day. I am doing this work because there are kids and teachers who are trying to learn new things and change the world. That is what excites me. And that’s why I think of myself as data-informed, but student-driven.

We need data. We need information about our students to make the very best educational decisions we can. And data can inform us and help us see if we’re on the right track. But a lot of times, when we think of data, our mind goes straight to assessment data – and that’s not the only type. At the end of the day, some of the best data is the qualitative data that comes from talking to people, from hearing their stories, and from understanding their worlds and what they are going through. Once we know what their realities are, then we can try to do something with what we’ve learned.

When we ask the right questions, data can help us make really good decisions for kids. When we see data that makes us say, ‘Whoa, our student did really well here,’ then we can ask, ‘What might have led to that? What could we learn from it?’ When we see data that suggests a kid is struggling, we can ask, ‘What might have created that result? What might we do about it?’ Data should prompt questions and inform our thinking. As educators, I believe that we come to school every day wanting to do our best to support our kids. That’s why it’s so important that we have conversations – about our data, about our students and about our practice – because conversation and collaboration are where true change comes from.

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