Have you ever considered that perhaps your teacher is a scientist? Well, they might not all work in a lab, but they certainly do other things that scientists do. For instance, teachers are always observing. Scientists observe. Teachers observe how students respond to learning, interact with adults and their peers, and observe how students grow and develop.
Teachers also review student work to determine how much learning was achieved and how well students applied new learning to new situations, and then make determinations about what to do next. Scientists do that, too. Scientists look at data and look for patterns and trends and unexpected outcomes and wonder about what it all means and what they should do next.
In addition to their observations, teachers also look at numbers, and numbers come in all forms in a school. Just like a scientist, teachers and principals call this data. Interestingly enough, observations are also a form of data. We might think data is always about numbers, but really data comes in all different forms. And what makes data so interesting, is that it gives us information, and that is why data is so important to teachers.
Like scientists, teachers don’t do this work alone. They work in a whole variety of teams every day because it’s always best to collaborate and share and wonder together about what might be needed next. These meetings happen before school, during school, after school, and during early release Wednesdays. The information teachers extract about the learning and well-being of the class, as well as individual students, helps inform what the next day’s learning and environment should include to best meet the needs of all learners. Information helps teachers know when a student would benefit from additional practice, greater challenge, or a new instructional approach.
Do you know what a scientist would do once they had new ideas to try? They would set up another trial with these new ideas and collect even more data. And, wouldn’t you know, teachers do the same thing. The cycle continues, the conversations grow, and new ideas inform practice. So now that we see how our teachers are in fact scientists, we might be wondering, why? Why do teachers at FWSU and across Vermont and the country do this? Because the information hiding in the data is used to help every child find success and joy in learning.
Danielle Drogalis is the Data Manager & Assessment Coordinator at Franklin West Supervisory Union and is a new contributor to the FWSU Story. You can follow her on Twitter @DroVTEd