A New Definition of Cool

GraphOne reward for getting older is no longer caring about looking cool. Surrounded by tweens and teens at home and school, I’m often reminded of the lengths I went at their age to not look uncool. (Do sneakers in the snow sound familiar to anyone else?)

Gratefully, I wear warm winter boots now. I also get to witness and share the unbridled excitement that comes from, yes, data. Jumping out of our skin for numbers and charts won’t register on the typical ‘cool’ list of things to do, but it’s an unforgettable sight I’ve been grateful to witness a number of times now.

Two years ago, a significant area of focus for the school was reading. Since then, we’ve invested in a series of Direct Instruction programs, including Reading Mastery and other companion resources, that ensure all students pick up the skills needed to be thoroughly successful readers, from phonemic awareness to making inferences. All reading teachers from JK to grade 6 have received extensive training to deliver the program. Leveraging the small-group instruction time in our Super Skills and Workshop classes, we now deliver an intense, research-based, aligned effort to teach this most critical skill. Assessment happens frequently to monitor student progress. We also use a comprehensive standardized assessment to capture baseline data at the start of the year, mid-year and at the end with our youngest students, just to double-check.

That’s the data that’s got us beaming like giddy teens. Seeing the extent to which our students are growing in their reading skills is gratifying beyond words.

Teachers join the profession to make a difference. That difference is rarely quick and rarely rooted in one effort, no matter how significant that effort is. The complexity of meeting the needs of all students, to the greatest extent possible, is typically just too great.

Getting our kicks out of data may be considered uncool. So be it. But making a difference is what these teachers are about. Our excitement at doing so is irrepressible. And we’re not afraid to show it.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

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