Podcast: Evidence Feedback to Promote Educator Learning - Steve Barkley

Podcast: Evidence Feedback to Promote Educator Learning

Evidence Feedback to Promote Educator Learning

When we are engaged in growing and learning as educators to reach a student success goal, reflecting on evidence gathered along the way is key both to the goal’s success and to educator learning. Evidence that shows changes in teacher actions and in student learning production behaviors should appear before changes in learning outcomes. With school leadership team goals, changes in leaders’ behaviors should be some of the first evidence that’s observed. Coaching is a great tool for gathering and reflecting upon evidence.

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Podcast Transcript:

[00:00:00.330] – Steve [Intro]

Welcome to the Steve Barkley Ponders out loud podcast. As instructional coaches and school leaders, you have a challenge to guide continuous teacher growth that promotes student success. This podcast looks to support you with strategies from our experienced guests and insights that I’ve gathered across many years. I’m thrilled you’re here. Thanks for listening.

[00:00:29.690] – Steve

Evidence feedback to promote educator learning. When we are engaged in growing and learning as a process of reaching a goal, reflection on the evidence towards our progress is key to learning from the process. Sometimes we can learn when the goal isn’t achieved. Too often, school leadership teams, PLCs, departments, and individual teachers can lay out a plan, at times detailed, but they fail to gather evidence along the way that would generate learning and perhaps modification of the plan. Consider how this might appear in a medical setting. A patient, in a meeting with a doctor, forms a plan to lower the patient’s blood pressure by reducing salt intake. Evidence from numerous studies have shown that reducing salt intake can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, especially in individuals with hypertension. But even those with normal blood pressure can benefit from reducing salt intake as a preventative measure. So we have a plan. The patient is going to reduce salt intake and they will return in four weeks to have their blood pressure measured again. But what evidence might the doctor and patient want to gather along the way as the plan is being implemented to increase the likelihood of success and the likelihood of learning?

[00:02:26.150] – Steve

Does the patient know how to read labels to identify salt content in prepared foods? If not, instruction on that might be necessary as part of the plan. Does the patient have a tracking system and are they comfortable using the tracking system to identify their salt intake? Can the patient along the way identify choices and decisions that they are making to modify their diet? Having this kind of evidence along the way gives more meaning to the doctor’s assessment of the progress that’s been made when the blood pressure is later read. Let’s consider what this backwards planning and evidence collection might look like when a PLC sets a goal. The PLC has a goal of increasing student achievement both in content and in learning and life skills by implementing student independent and collaborative learning projects. Having identified their goal, they consider what are some of the student learning production behaviors that will be necessary? In other words, what will students have to do and practice in order for the goal to be successful? They might identify students needing goal setting skills, students working on interest driven authentic task, students investing effort on repeated iterations, students using feedback from teachers and others, students using self-assessment, and students persisting through initial failures in tackling problem solving.

[00:04:33.310] – Steve

Having identified these necessary student behaviors, the teachers would identify actions that the teachers may need to take in order to initiate, motivate, and support those desired student learning production behaviors. It might mean teachers teaching some of those student behaviors such as how to set goals or ways to request feedback or understanding the elements of effort. It may mean teachers setting up activities that spark students initial interest and curiosity. Teachers might decide to conference with students to assess their level of these necessary learning skills and then provide coaching to students as they practice the skills that they need to gain. As implementation begins, the first evidence would be around teacher behaviors. That might mean teachers assessing which of the learning production behavior students have developed and which ones need to be trained or coached. It might start with exploring students’ reactions to topics and issues from the local or global community. Teachers listening to and learning about the students is key in this process. That evidence would document that teachers have taken the initial steps towards achieving the desired goal. What have teachers learned about students and how is what teachers have learned about students shaping the design of learning opportunities that teachers will be offering? A goal of this complexity requires a lot of observation of students.

[00:06:37.510] – Steve

What evidence can we find that indicates the implementation of student learning production behaviors is present? What evidence do we find in the goals that students have set? How many iterations are present prior to students “finishing” or giving up on task? Which students are practicing which of the important behaviors? Are the students aware and conscious of specific learning production behaviors they are implementing? All this observation of students guides teachers’ next steps. If the early evidence does not indicate changes in teacher and student behaviors, reaching the outcome is unlikely and modifications should be made. Evidence of changes in student learning production behaviors provides positive feedback and motivations to teachers for the investment they are making in change in teacher practice. Now, as teachers assess student learning of both content and skill, they have a greater understanding of the outcomes that were reached. Similar to the example of the doctor and patient lowering blood pressure, more learning has occurred for both of them as they have the evidence along with the results or outcome. As school leadership teams plan backwards to develop processes to initiate and support continuous student growth, they should develop evidence indicators. What are the lookfors that illustrate that leadership behaviors, having been implemented, are producing the start of changes in teacher and student behaviors?

[00:08:37.130] – Steve

Way too often, plans are developed, initiated, and then left unattended until a measurement of student outcomes is taken sometime later. Without evidence of the process, that outcome provides little new learning for the educators. Coaching can be a great tool for gathering and reflecting upon evidence as a plan for student growth is implemented. Evidence, feedback and reflection along the way can save wasted energies and disappointment when modifications along the way aren’t implemented. I’d be happy to discuss one of your backwards plans and the likely evidence you’d want to collect with that plan. Remember, you can reach me anytime at barkleypd.com. Thanks for listening.

[00:09:45.080] – Steve [Outro]

Thanks for listening, folks. I’d love to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn at Steve Barkley. Or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.

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