Why do we need it?
School’s leaders are often overwhelmed with tons of unstructured data on their schools’ daily operation even on a daily basis. Data is collected from multiples emails and spreadsheets to hand-written observation notes, which hinders decision-makers’ ability in solving rising issues in a timely manner.
Stakeholders often spend a considerable amount of time categorizing those data for later use. More often than not, the effort does not yield any critical impact on school’s overall performance. Even if they manage to clean up all the data, it would likely have passed the best time to solve the issue.
And the circle goes on.
Instead, we suggest establishing a comprehensive framework and input platform even before the school year starts, which would eliminate waste spent on data clean-up and gift school’s leaders with more time to identify and solve issues at hand.
How do we do it?
In this article, we focus solely on how analytics could transform how we manage and help teachers to boost their teaching techniques.
In the first phase, the focal point is to capture the current performance.
School must go back to its original vision, mission and values to identify what they want students to achieve and, consequently, how teachers should teach and behave both inside and beyond the classroom’s wall. By using these values combined with academic (inter)national standards, leaders could synthesize a comprehensive framework that matches both its local context and global demands. It would be the backbone of the teaching evaluation process, which guarantees all teachers are judged equally, irrespective of their teaching classes, grades or campuses.
Upon that foundation, to leverage data effectively, leaders need to embrace a data-driven culture. This change requires more than encouraging words from the top; it urges managers to step out and remove frictions from previous procedures. All traditional approaches (from hand-written notes, emails to spreadsheets) should be reviewed and merged into one single input channel for ease and consistency of both data gathering and interpreting. We suggest creating one platform that has a lean user-interface, mobile-responsive, and richly detailed for analysts to work later on.
After building the platform, change-makers must not rush into implementing the platform on a large scale because, at this stage, they do not yet know what their product should be. With rapid change in the world of Education, it gets harder even for experienced schools’ leaders to predict the future. Instead, try conduct some prototypes and iterate several times. The initial platform should
be fast to build
have only basic key intended functions
It would allow builders to test their key ideas fast and cost-effectively, and also have the time to renovate the parts that do not work as expected before automating the process and scale it up to a grander level.
After infusing the program to measure teachers’ performance, the second phase targets at enhancing those ability.
Provide appropriate training programs for each group. Teachers’ profiles are recorded and sorted into different groups based on both their current performances and development goals. It aids the headmaster to find suitable development plans for each group. For example, one group of teachers is facing problems with classroom management, a training session from better-managed classes’ teachers might be suitable; however, if another group has problems with communicating with parents, a detailed communication guideline might yield better results.
Enhance the whole process, not just the teachers. Other components of the training process must also be analysed, such as training materials and specialists. Collected data from actual teachers’ progression combined with their own feedback are used as key drivers to assess the training programs’ effectiveness. And sometimes to solve one problem, it might take several iterations to find the most suitable program. Programs and/or program’s trainers with highest positive impact and shortest amount of time in helping teachers obtaining their goals should be broken down into smaller components and analyzed on why they are effective. For example, if the group of teachers with parent communication issues was given two modules, one with the detailed guideline, the other is imbedded only with several mock interviews, whichever approach shows better results should be broken down and analyzed. The effective elements could be used to develop upcoming training modules. The ongoing analyzing process would help headmaster keep renovating its process for better outcomes.
Let teachers be trainers. For top-tier teachers who master some/all of the training aspects, they then could grow into mentors and use insights to conduct new programs for newcomers, and keep the circle goes on.