Magic Potion

Day 26…

download (2)Today I had the opportunity to spend time with members of our senior team as well as most of our Curriculum Learning Supervisors at a session entitled, “Deliberate and Consistent Use of Multiple Sources of Evidence To Inform Decisions”.  It is a part of the Strong Districts and their Leadership modules being developed by Ken Leithwood and Catherine McCullough.

I find that when I see a title like today’s, there is that naïve part of me that “for just a split second” hopes that I’m going to walk away with the magic potion.  The renowned researcher, Leithwood, who is responsible for “academic press” being one of our favourite go to phrases, is going to impart THE list of what we should be collecting in terms of sources of evidence, then provide us with THE list of what to do with what we find and then magically our scores will increase.  But alas, no magic lists exist!

Instead we were provided with the opportunity to hear the journey that two school boards embarked on as they worked towards improving student achievement and more specifically on they made evidence based decisions along the way.    I always find it interesting when listening to what others are doing and watching the reactions of the audience and checking myself for my reactions.   At times, there is a “been there, done that” reaction.   At other times, people are frantically capturing every step of the process as it resonates as something that we haven’t tried yet, but should.

In reviewing my notes, a couple of “aha” statements earned asterisks….

“I respect the work of Hattie and have often quoted his “Know thy Impact” phrase, but as I was listening to Leithwood talk about the fact that evidence doesn’t speak for itself and that when looking at student generated data we always need to be sensitive to the back story ~  I wrote “Know thy Context”.

Leithwood then shared that historically we have believed that we needed to first create a safe and orderly climate before tackling the academic skills.  But new research is now suggesting that by setting high academic standards for students, the school climate will become more safe and orderly ~ I wrote “Chicken or Egg”

One school board shared their deployment plan for instructional coaches and took the stance that resources would be focused where needed and if a school was not ready to embrace the power of the instructional coach, then they relied on the expertise of that administrator and did not put a coach in that school ~ I wrote “Ready or Not”

My final reflection has nothing to do with today’s topic, but with my note taking.  As I had not charged the keyboard on my iPad, I was left with “old school” paper and pen note taking.  And I must admit that my notes (although not overly neat) definitely tell a story of my reaction to certain parts of the day.  Astericks, boxes, circles, multiple arrows and squiggles are all reflective of the power of certain comments.

Maybe there is something to the latest articles about handwriting vs taking notes on a laptop

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No magic potion, but certainly lots of ingredients to think about mixing as we look towards rethinking how we are using multiple sources of evidence.