The secret to maintaining any routine is making it easy for yourself. Want to squeeze in more early-morning workouts? Pack your gym clothes the night before. Trying to keep the mail from piling up? Keep a wastebin next to the mail table. And if you’re trying to build a habit among a group of people — like consistently and thoroughly responding to feedback surveys, for example — the trick is to simplify and streamline wherever possible, for both the audience and yourself.
Today: running large-scale data projects while respecting your teachers’ time — and your own.
TACKLING COMMON DATA ISSUES | PROBLEM 4
The data is too resource-intensive to collect
Timelines, as we’ve said, are tricky. Educators may be the most reliable source of on-the-ground classroom insight, but they’re people too — people with some of the toughest jobs around. So how do you design data collection methods and schedules that respect their time while ensuring maximum high-quality responses?
Balancing Practicality and Ambition
Manually collecting every piece of data you’ve decided to track just isn’t feasible.
For example, let’s say you decide that “opportunities for student discussion” will be a key metric for evaluating new student-teacher interaction training. The most perfect way of collecting it might be to have every teacher record a time log of when students were discussing in their classroom. But a daily time log isn’t practical: the time required to roll it out and gather the data is prohibitive to effective, frequent assessment.
So begin to think: do you actually need this specific data point? What critical focus does it illuminate that couldn’t be served by another piece of information?
And if you decide that yes, that data point is indeed necessary… what systems can you put in place to roll its collection into your other, existing work?
Audit Your Existing Collection Plan
At this stage in the process, your data roadmap should be coming together. You know what metrics you’ll be using to measure, how they should look at the ultimate outcome of your program, and where staff need to be at various points throughout the year to indicate you’re on the right track. The next step is to start asking staff for feedback and surveying where they are in the process, right?
Question that impulse.
Whether you realize it or not, data is all around us. Some or even all of the information you seek may already be available without your knowledge. Before you ask anything of your teachers, think carefully about what you can glean from existing records. Two sources that may be relatively trivial on their own, for example, might offer new insight when put together. Consider sources like:
- HR records
- District meeting minutes
- Inter-district email threads
- Past PD attendance records
- Old district calendars
- Yearly principal reports
Now, consider how those sources could work together:
- District meeting minutes + inter-district email threads = gaps between decisions made and information conveyed
- Past PD attendance records + old district calendars = opportunities for better scheduling
- Yearly principal reports + HR records = teacher needs unmet by current PD offerings, or sessions more successful/popular than you’d realized
Every question you don’t ask your respondents is one less demand on their time — which in turn clears up room for the important stuff.
Make Providing Feedback Seamless
Once you’ve identified the data that needs collecting, make time for it. Often, feedback is left at the end of an event or activity so that attendees are being asked to complete a survey while packing up. To truly build a feedback loop culture, build dedicated reflection time into your PD activity — and bookend it by giving out resources or closing out with next steps afterward.
Dr. Glenda Horner of Cypress-Fairbanks made this thoughtful point in her recent KickUp webcast: