Late January… early February…. traditional the time that we collect data and then take a closer look at things. Before I would have looked forward to this season, the opportunity to sit with so many students new to me and familiar from years of interactions and take a close look at their literacy, celebrating each milestone. This year, I was unsure… of everything. We no longer draw the students up next to us day after day intimately listening to their reading. A standardized computer platform asks them questions and they choose the answers. Individual teachers listen to reading in their small classroom communities. There is so much uncertainty surrounding learning, growth, and how it is measured.
Pre-covid we drew together is grade level pods and spent a couple of hours together looking at the data and planning next steps. So many circumstances… logistics mostly, drew the administration to recommend one-on-one meetings with teachers. The collaborative problem solving of years past set aside in our pandemic world. The teachers remain in the silos… with me entering to peer into the data collected and consider what would be the way forward.
Honestly, I struggled. Traditionally at this time of the year, students are beginning to take off. They have shaken off last summer, developed a consistent routines as learners and begun to fly. Teachers know them well and I have been here and there working with most of them. In this time, the routines have taken longer, acclimating to learning has been a struggle for some, and it feels like assessment process pulled me away from the students instead of closer. As I stared at the data at the page, I longed for the memory of student voices as they read.
Also, what of the growth? As I pour over results, I search for a frame. No recommendations to release students from intervention seem obvious. Many continue to perform under grade level. What would be the positive frame? Then the idea manifested itself. Look at growth…
I began with the generalized growth. How did grade levels shift? Some were strong, others showed continuing struggles. Closer still. How were individual students growing? Such a rough year last year and a choppy start, would our initial attempts, our shifts in practice, reflect in the growth of students?
Student by student, the view shifted. Buried in the data, their growth began to reveal itself. Unearthed, it shone like a gemstone hidden in the shifting tide.
So when it our leader’s meeting yesterday afternoon, a teacher asked, how will we measure growth in this time, I had a vision. Not a new one, but a reviewed one, let’s look at how that student is growing, where did they start and where are they now.
Just like that, what we see changes when we change the way we look at it.