Darta talking data

Over the past 10 years educational settings such as Catholic College Wodonga have become swamped with many different forms of data. But the question is often asked which data is the right data, and further to this, how do we interpret the data?

When using data, we know that using just one source can be dangerous. So instead we look to use multiple sources to inform our practice. The days of purely working on a hunch with no evidence have disappeared.

An example of Catholic College utilising data sets and our “gut feeling” as educators to develop an educational approach, is our Horizon Program. Our data told us that specific groups in our school were not engaging in their learning and the “gut feel” of our Learning and Teaching Leaders also supported this. So, the utilising of NAPLAN growth data, Insight SRC student engagement data, as well as our observations as educators led to the development of the Horizon Program.

In 2018 we introduced two new data sets to provide us feedback on Literacy and Numeracy utilising the program Essential Assessments and On Demand Testing. These are supporting the work of our teaching teams to better understand the skills of our students in Years 7 – 9. This will allow us to “target teach” rather than repeat skills students have already mastered.

The data from this program also supports the work of our Literacy and Numeracy Researchers who provide us with a deep analysis of where best to focus our efforts in improving the Literacy and Numeracy needs of our students.

The second new program we are using this year is PIVOT. The PIVOT program underpins our Coaching and Feedback Program which is now in the fourth year. In this program all teaching staff have two of their classes complete twenty-five questions. The questions target specific areas of professional practice which are aligned to the Australian Institute for Teaching School Leadership (AITSL) standards.

The following questions were presented to the students to provide feedback for their teachers.

  1. This teacher treats me with respect
  2. This teacher cares about student’s point of view
  3. This class keeps my attention – I don’t get bored
  4. This teacher models different ways/strategies for learning new concepts
  5. This teacher knows when the class understands, and when we do not
  6. This teacher is knowledgeable about the topics in this subject
  7. This teacher explains difficult things clearly
  8. This teacher pushes me to set challenging learning goals
  9. In this class, the teacher helps me build my vocabulary
  10. This teacher makes what we are learning interesting
  11. This teacher pushes me to think instead of just giving me the answers
  12. This teacher asks me to explain my answers – why I think what I think
  13. This teacher explains why we are learning what we are learning
  14. This teacher gives us time to explain our ideas
  15. I know what I am supposed to do in this class
  16. This teacher’s use of technology helps me learn in this class
  17. In this class, the students are well behaved
  18. This teacher encourages me to share my ideas or opinions about what we are learning in the class
  19. Our class is busy learning and doesn’t waste time
  20. I feel comfortable asking the teacher for individual help about the things we are learning
  21. I understand how my work will be assessed in this class
  22. The comments that I get on my work in this class help me understand how to improve
  23. I know how well I am doing in this class
  24. This teacher pushes me to correct my mistakes
  25. At the end of each lesson, this teacher reviews what we have just learned.

We also added 3 bespoke questions

  1. This teacher should continue to…
  2. This teacher should stop…
  3. This teacher should start…

Our students used a rating scale from 1 – Strongly Disagree to 5 – Strongly Agree. As a school community the question we rated the highest in was question 6 – “This teacher is knowledgeable about the topics in this subject” (4.4 average across 2700 responses), whilst the question rated lowest by our students was number 25 (3.4) – “At the end of each lesson, this teacher reviews what we have just learned.”

For each teacher they discuss their data with their coach. Our coaches are drawn from all teaching staff who hold a position of leadership or responsibility in the school. From the coaching conversations, goals are set and in term three coaches observe our teachers in the classroom. There is a significant amount of research on the impact of utilising student feedback as a key component of goal setting and classroom observation. Researchers such as Hattie and Timperley have devoted significant amounts of their time highlighting the importance of such programs in schools.

I find as a coach, it is often myself that becomes the learner. Over the past three years I have incorporated strategies I have seen used by Logan Hayward and Ash Stockwell into my practice as a teacher. As a teacher I also am coached by a leader in our school, in 2017 Sam Russell was my coach. I believe our Coaching and Feedback program is one of the key components which produces excellent outcomes from both staff and students at Catholic College Wodonga.

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