Do you ever picture what our kids must see when they look at us? I started doing this this year-actually, I took it at step further and started recording my sessions with the camera looking a me-and this is what I saw:
I’m waiting, expectantly, for the correct answer-no, sometimes even just for AN answer-so I can mark it down in my big-no enormous- data binder. I’m never without a pen in my hand. I hate the pen. It’s such an unwelcoming tool to always have in front of my students. They know that this pen is constantly assessing their every move, word and twitch. Then, when I’m not waiting expectantly, I’m looking down in my binder writing. And writing. And writing.
I mean, seriously. If I went to a doctor who did this to me while I was talking about an issue I had, I would be out the door! I’d be visiting other clinics searching for a doctor who practices attentive listening.
This post is not meant disregard the importance of taking good data. Data is good. It gives us direction. It guides our therapy. We NEED to take good data and use it. The problem was though, that I wasn’t actually using it effectively. I was just taking data for “data’s sake.” It started taking over my therapy sessions. No longer were my precious students the focus. Instead, it was all about how many trials I could get recorded into that overwhelmingly big binder. When the amount of time we are taking data outweighs the amount of time we spend teaching, something is very wrong.
I made a personal resolution that for the third week of each month. I take some time on Friday afternoons to look over the data I collect throughout the month. I study it. I find trends. I see strengths. I see needs. And then…on the fourth week of the month, I leave my data binder on the shelf. That’s right. I don’t touch it. I know, I’m a little bit of a rebel. 🙂
And here’s what I saw:
I’m looking at the student. Wait for it…I’m smiling! I’m using my free hands because there is no longer a pen in them. I’m illustrating on the white board. I’m getting up out of my seat and demonstrating with my body (such as the verbs “jumping,” “sitting,” “standing,” “bending”). I’m teaching and I’m loving it.
But wait-without my data binder, how did I know where my students were functioning, what goals to work on them with and how to address their needs? Trust me, you know. I’m feeling a little bit more free and sometimes in education these days, that means a lot.