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My Teachers Don’t Like It When I Talk to Them About Data Use

I was talking with a central office administrator the other day. He does presentations to teachers using data, disseminates data to them, and tries to help them use data. He’s discouraged by how resistant they are to what he’s delivering. My gosh, that would be discouraging, right? I mean, he’s doing a good job, he’s working hard for them, and what he’s presenting is valuable. Who wouldn’t get discouraged with this?

My response to him was something I heard Steven Katz say once, “A student learning need is evidence of a teacher learning need.” In this case, the teachers are students and this administrator is the teacher. Maybe by expressing resistance, these teachers are actually expressing a learning need. They may not know what that need is, but it sounds to me like they’re saying they know what it isn’t.

I suggested that this administrator go learn more about why his teachers were resistant. What don’t they like about what he’s giving them? What are they doing on their own that they do find valuable? Do they have anything that they want to suggest? This administrator is a bright guy – he’d be able to run all these answers through his professional judgment filter and begin to craft something useful for these teachers.  Of course, I offered to help, which would make it even more fun (for me).

This may sound basic, but I think the nuance of recognizing this disconnect as a set of learning needs – from both the learner and presenter – is huge. And different – I don’t see this approach taken much in my work with districts. Choosing to understand their resistance creates a fantastic opportunity for this administrator’s own learning and could really provide a great experience for all involved. I think these teachers will love him for it.

So that’s what I think. Thanks for reading.

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