How many of us have heard of data driven decisions or data driven instruction? Everybody right? If you’ve been in education longer than two minutes you’ve been hit over the head with the concept and the language so much that it’s now just part of our educational existence.
In the next 3-4 minutes it takes to read this. I’m going to reveal the single greatest strategy that will leverage those decisions and that instruction and provide the greatest impact on your students.
I’m adopted my biological mother delivered me when she was 16 years old. I was born with physical deformaties. Imagine a bullfrog when it ribbits and the membrane around its throat expands. I had a blister like that on the tip of my tongue when I was born and needed surgery to remove it. I was also born with extra digits on each hand those were removed as well. And so to look at me you wouldn’t know that these pieces of me were removed. What you can’t see is that I was also born with dyslexia and adhd and that as a child I had a speech impediment. As a result I really struggled to read up through and to the end of elementary school. I was even put in a special ed class for a short time in 6,th grade. All of this created a lot of self doubt and insecurity things you can’t see.
Why am I telling you this? Because there was one circumstance that profoundly changed the trajectory of my life. I got the chicken pox. Why is that important? It’s important because I was too sick to play. I couldn’t leave the house. It was during that one to two week period that my life changed. My mother sat and read to me. She read the adventures of Zorro to me from a Walt Disney book of collected stories. I can still see that book in my mind's eye it was a couple inches thick with a yellow binding. Those stories transported me to other worlds. It wasn’t just the stories though it was her spending time with me. It was love. It was in those weeks that I became a reader. That was the beginning for me. If it hadn’t been for that love I wouldn’t be an educator today. Love enabled me to raise my test scores in that specific area.
Love is the strategy that can provide the greatest impact on your data driven decisions and data driven instruction.
So what does that look like in your classrooms and in your schools? For me and my personality and my high school grade level. It’s greeting the kids when they come in. Smiling at them dapping them up. Being genuinely happy to see them when they come back from missing a day or three. And telling them that I need them there. But also having empathy or sympathy if they can’t make it everyday. What that reveals to them is the respect I have for them as people.
For me, the two greatest indicators of love that I can give students as an educator are trust and respect. So that means that I need to allow them to make decisions and have choice. I need to respect them enough to hold them accountable and also have high expectations. I also need to spend as much time with them as I can in my role as principal.
So what’s the data say about this love strategy? I can tell you that we had less discipline issues in our building. I can tell you we had no fights on our campus.
I had a student who I had to remove from our traditional day program and had to place her in our Virtual Academy which is our after school online program. This student was upset that she was removed, but eventually got her head right and buckled down to work. She showed that she was ready to be a student and earned her way back to the day program. Once there she continued to perform well and make the honor roll. She is now one of the senior leaders and is in charge of a bunch of different activities. I showed her love by holding her accountable, continuing to connect with her even after her poor choices and trust her to lead her classmates.
There is a lot of invisible aspects of our students that we can’t see. We can’t see their brain chemistry, we can’t see what they go home to on a daily basis. All we see is their actions and it’s up to us to interpret them in the most loving light that we can. Showing the students that we love them despite and sometimes because of their actions can change their lives and change their data. Love is the single most important strategy to use when leveraging data.
What are your thoughts on strategies that can be used to leverage data?
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For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the www.howtobeagreatprincpal.com and order my newest book How To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur, on itunes and podomatic, new episodes weekly. If you’re interested in sharing your experience as an edleader please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......