Data-driven instruction helps school leaders know precisely what students need by providing teachers with the right tools to improve their lessons. Effective instruction focuses on learning outcomes and uses data to ensure those outcomes. Carving out the time for weekly data meetings is a critical step in building a data-driven culture. By focusing on student learning data, school leaders can help teachers improve their techniques and figure out what methods are working best.
Data-Driven Instruction Helps School Leaders Document Improvement
The best school leaders and teachers know when teaching is working and when it isn’t. In some school settings (hopefully from a bygone era), teachers plan a lesson, teach the lesson, give an assessment, plan the next lesson, and move on. With data-driven instruction, the process is cyclical, with the data from assessments informing the planning for the following lessons. Weekly data meetings create the critical planning space for school leaders and teachers to meet and discuss the results of the assessment data to inform future planning and instruction.
Heidi Kunkel, Managing Director of Teaching and Learning at KIPP Tulsa Public Charter Schools, recently made significant changes to build a culture of data-driven instruction. “This was our first year of implementation,” she said. “While in the past, data analysis meetings happened at intervals after interim assessments, we recognized this wasn't sufficient in order to drive the student achievement gains we need to make. This year, we decided to run two coaching meetings weekly -- one specifically focused on lesson planning and internalization and one focused on analyzing student data.”
Jackie Rosner, Director of Special Projects at Relay Lab Schools in San Antonio, began investing time into weekly data meetings using Whetstone templates ensuring a strong setup for the meetings. “I started by watching lots of great footage of strong weekly data meetings. I used the templates in Whetstone and old Weekly Data Meeting agendas from my colleagues to study the format and think about timing. I spent a good deal of time planning my first round of WDMs (almost an hour per meeting) and solicited feedback from my manager on my draft agendas. This was definitely helpful in ensuring a strong launch.”
By looking at the data regularly, school leaders and teachers can more quickly identify student misconceptions that are preventing students from mastering concepts, and then plan interventions to address these misconceptions. According to Rosner, “Right now, I’m seeing the most success in the fact that the teachers I support now look at and use data DAILY (not just weekly) to adjust and improve their instruction. It’s state test prep season, and we currently have daily data check-ins to monitor student progress and look at exemplars and student work. I find the more we track, analyze, and take immediate action on the data, the more improvement we see in student results.”
The Impact of Implementing Weekly Data Meetings
There are multiple ways to organize and lead data meetings. In Paul Bambrick’s Leverage Leadership 2.0, the keys are laid out clearly in the ‘See It, Name It, Do It” series of inquiry.
Before the meeting:
Coaches and teachers look at the data independently to surface questions and insights that will guide the meeting
During the meeting:
Look to an exemplar piece of work, or an example of mastery
Identify the gap in understanding between the student data and the exemplar
Plan the reteach to address the gap
Using prompts in Whetstone’s Weekly Data Meeting template, school leaders are able to organize and maximize their time with teachers so that nothing is wasted. Marissa Fraser, a school leader at Relay Lab Schools in San Antonio, has been using assessment data to ground meetings with teachers. Using the Weekly Data Meeting template in Whetstone, she is able to plan high-impact meetings that maximize her limited time. “Using the guiding questions and examples in the template, I can quickly draft specific questions, prompt standards breakdowns, and create exemplars for reteaching in advance of my meetings with teachers,” she said. Using the timestamps and prompts ensures that they stay focused during meetings so that the teachers are able to walk away with concrete reteach plans.
The move to cyclical data-driven instruction is a big one, and potentially hugely impactful. As with most meetings, though, the follow-through is key to success. What do we now understand? What did we decide, and what are we going to do next?
Using insights from the data, leaders and teaching teams need to plan what comes next. How to best address misconceptions though new learning opportunities? What specific structure, materials, and steps can be used to maximize learning?
Then, take the time (in a group setting if possible) to practice these re-imagined plans. Take the time to spar and further re-imagine how these plans improve upon the previous teaching in a way that will further expand student understanding, leading to more students mastering the standard.
Finally, memorialize these plans into the calendar and into your “Action Step Manager.” These critical next steps, including re-assessing the standard, should all be documented to produce the visibility and accountability for collective growth.
Making Weekly Data Meetings Simple and Efficient
Fortunately, each of these steps, including the documentation of action steps and reteach plans, can all be accomplished in Whetstone. Nicole Powell, Principal Fellow at the Relay Lab School in San Antonio, and advanced data meeting facilitator, likes to keep in all in one place: “I enjoy using Whetstone to plan my Weekly Data Meetings because the template makes scripting, facilitating, and archiving meetings a streamlined process. As a result, grade-level teams are able to analyze data, plan how to respond to the data, and practice how to reteach a concept or skill in about 30-45 minutes. In this short amount of time, teachers experience success with strategically using their student data to drive their instruction that week. As a result, teachers consistently leave the Weekly Data Meeting feeling competent and confident in their ability to improve student achievement in their classrooms. As a school leader, Whetstone helps me create that unique experience for my teachers each week.”
To learn more about Whetstone’s software and how to create your own weekly data meetings, contact Whetstone Education today and begin your data-driven instruction.