Our data shows some students are struggling in our lessons. Now what?
This is the pivotal moment. Do we focus on providing supports to the students who demonstrate struggle? Or do we also focus on how to evolve our teaching? Are we using data only to sort students for services, or also to challenge our assumptions and change our approach?
We have high expectations. We actively engage students. We observe to take notes on what they say and do. We are feeling on top of our formative data-gathering game!
Then, brain science enters the equation with humbling news: We don’t always see what’s right in front of us. This is especially true when we have implicit biases—which, as humans, we always do. We have all been conditioned by false narratives about racial difference, language hierarchies, and gender differences—whether we believe them or not.
To get good observation data, we have to shift from traditional methods (like lectures and silent testing) to challenging, open-ended, collaborative tasks that actively engage students in processing and applying the new learning. If our learning is sit-and-get, there is nothing to observe but student behaviors of either compliance or disruption.
Observing students is one of the most important teaching skills. It is also one of the most under-prioritized in professional learning initiatives and district-wide change. Using observation data for equity requires more than watching students — we need to learn to see beyond our own biases and use new data to challenge our own assumptions.
Check out my webinar “Six Essentials for EL Excellence” at this link. Enjoy the webinar alone, or with your team or school. It’s easy to use this webinar to lead interactive professional learning. Simply pause the video and structure think-pair-share each time I ask a question to engage people in reflecting and discussing. In this webinar participants . . . Learn six essentials to teach and lead for EL Excellence…
The caliber of core teaching has the greatest influence on whether or not our English Learners (ELs) thrive. Consider the following: Three in four U.S. classrooms have at least one student who is an English learner. Even in schools with EL specialists, ELs spend the majority of their instructional day with core classroom teachers. We know this, yet too often forget it when designing EL programs and solutions. Instead, many…