When I interviewed for my new position as Technology TOSA, I had one question on my mind: “How will we measure our success in this role?” At the end of the interview I was given the opportunity to ask questions, and I immediately jumped on the opportunity to inquire about this pressing topic. “Well, we’ll look at student data across the district, along with teacher feedback.” Ok, this is a sufficient answer on the surface, but I was looking for more. As a teacher, it has been ingrained in me to constantly monitor my student data, from formative to summative, from minutia to the big picture. I have lived on a diet of specific and personalized data analysis. Now, as I enter this new role, I wonder how this top priority will look through the lens of a coach.
When I am requested to visit a classroom, my focus will be on the bigger picture. In my role, this will include how I can help the teacher develop technology skills to support his or her lesson and achieve increased student engagement, resulting in increased student performance. To do this, student data must be a central point as we discuss and plan future lessons. Student data will show me the direction in which I need to take the lesson, and where the gap lies between what is known and what needs to be developed by both the teacher and students (Duncan, 2006). Student data was a priority for me as a teacher, and will remain so as a coach. The question now is, how do I achieve this on a larger scale?
The only way to know I’ve truly made an impact through my coaching is through student data analysis. It is up to me to identify realistic expectations as a result of my coaching and collect the appropriate data to demonstrate evidence of growth (Duncan, 2006). This data will look different in each classroom, and will change as I progress in the understanding of my role (L’Allier, Elish-Piper, & Bean, 2010). The specifics of this have yet to be determined; one of the many obstacles of coming into a position that has yet to be clearly defined. Student data confidentiality is also an issue, so it will be up to each school administrator to determine what summative and formal assessment data is appropriate for my review and what is not. This leaves me with formative data, a data type I have used frequently in the classroom as a teacher. I will use observation, discussion, questioning, exit slips, etc to determine my effectiveness. This data will be collected into a system which includes the action plan, conference records, lesson plans, and progress notes for each teacher, department, and/or school I work with. While my professional role does not require me to gather this data, I need a way to monitor my own growth and effectiveness as a coach. I hope to encourage my peers to do the same.
Though my title has changed, and my perspective has shifted, my priorities remain the same. Student growth is the ultimate goal of each action that occurs in our district, regardless of where that action happens. My hope is that this vision and purpose has not been lost on those near me at the district level. My expectation is that we will remain focused on the students and use our skills to increase learning through technology when appropriate, not just push technology for the sake of using something on which the district has spent funds. Student learning is the ultimate goal; let us not lose sight of that purpose as we define our new roles.
Duncan, M. (2006). Literacy coaching: Developing effective teachers through instructional dialogue. New York: Richard C. Owens Publishers.
L’Allier, S., Elish-Piper, L., & Bean, R. M. (2010). What matters for elementary literacy coaching? Guiding principles for instructional improvement and student achievement. The Reading Teacher, 63(7), 544-554.