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ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

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The 6 stages of accepting data-driven instruction—in GIFs

Becky Frutos

by Chrissy Allison

Bringing data into the classroom is easier said than done. Many of us feel skeptical or intimidated in the beginning. It takes time to get comfortable and draw meaningful insights from it. 

Sound familiar? Here are the six stages I went through as I adjusted to data-driven instruction, expressed by some of my favorite TV/movie educators:

1. Denial: Challenging the test

“Question #3 is poorly worded.”
“Answer ‘b’ is a trick answer.” 
“The students made silly mistakes.”

When my principal first told us we were going to start using data to adapt our teaching:

via giphy

I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.

2. Distrust

“How can two questions show what students know?”
“We don’t teach it in this format.”

When I didn’t really believe there was anything to learn from the data because, after all, my students are people, not numbers:

I just wanted to back to teaching the way I was used to.

3. Confusion, overload

“This is too much!  
“How can I really use all of this?”

When I started to actually dig into the data and was beyond overwhelmed:

So many standards! So many questions! Where do I even start?!

4. Intrigued, but tentative

“Students do poorly on word problems, so we’ll do more word problems.”  “We need more reading.”

When I started looking at the data and realized that there were some things I could be doing more of in my classroom:

Maybe this whole data thing isn’t so bad after all…

5. Acceptance: Digging deeper

“The wrong answers show why students are struggling.”

When I gained insight that the data wasn’t just revealing right and wrong answers—it was showing me why students were missing that standard:

The insight is right there for me to bring back to my students.

6. Enthusiastic: Changing teaching practice and improving student learning

“I know what my students aren't understanding.”
“I can write lesson plans that differentiate.”
“I need to adjust my texts to be more complex."

When, armed with knowledge of my students’ strengths and weaknesses, I knew what I had to do to help my kids “get it”:

Now I’m confident that my teaching aligns to what my students need most.

Are you or your teachers moving through the six stages? Check out these Lessons From the Field about how to harness data as an instructional tool or reach out to your ANet coach.

Chrissy is the director of math professional learning at ANet.

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