Above: A real-life example from Comal ISD’s “Bridge to Practice” system — click here to see Hanna Schramm, Director of Professional Learning, explaining how Comal implemented it even during the challenges of COVID
A practical example
The richer your data, the more questions you can answer. Maybe high school achievement scores on state ELA assessments increase, but K-8 results dip slightly.
- You look into it, and one light begins to illuminate the box: all teachers attended 25 hours of ELA-supportive PD, 30% more than last year.
- You look deeper, and another light appears: high school teachers rated their training highly, while 60% of K-8 teachers strongly disagreed with the statement “I am prepared to apply this training to my classroom.”
- Finally, you notice that the high school teachers’ personal learning networks (PLNs) chose classroom application as a focus this semester, while the K-8 teachers received no such support.
By cross-indexing the data, you’ve uncovered a valuable strategic move: reinforce classroom application skills through learning community or PLN work, as well as through “sit and get” training.
The value of glass-box thinking
Ultimately, glass box thinking isn’t just about better performance — it’s about demonstrating the return on investment of your professional learning. Education resources are precious. Coaching can have a tremendous impact, but it is costly, time-consuming, and highly dependent on quality. More and more, professional teams must demonstrate the value of their efforts to stakeholders at all levels in order to advocate for more of the increasingly-available funding and resources.
With the right kind of information, a consistent data system, and a willingness to spend time on the details, you can build momentum in your district toward a continuously-improving workforce of happy, supported teachers.