Last night, along with several other BUSD parents and teachers, I attended the Mills Teacher Scholars’ Teacher Inquiry in Action Forum, which is an annual showcase of the work East Bay teachers are doing to explore, in-depth, aspects of their practice that they would like to improve.
The showcase was inspiring to me as both a parent and an educator. (I felt the same way after attending the forum last year.) It is thrilling to see BUSD teachers so deeply engaged in the art and science of student learning. I particularly appreciated the focus on the use of meaningful data to inform instruction. At one of the presentations, Rosa Parks teachers described how they used iPads to film their students working through a math problem, and then used the video data, in consultation and reflection with colleagues, to better understand how their students were learning, what barriers they faced, and how to help them overcome those barriers. This practice represents the use of data — and technology — that is teacher-initiated, not dictated from on high.
A score on a standardized test may give the teacher a snapshot of where the student is at the moment, but the data these teachers are using helps them understand why the student is where she is. That’s the kind of data that can actually make a difference in the classroom.
This kind of professional development — well-facilitated, teacher-driven inquiry — requires resources and administrative support. But I think anyone who attended last night’s event will tell you it is well worth the investment.