As a result, a few months ago, members of our leadership team all completed the “culture of learning” section of the Performance Practice. When we aggregated the ratings and reviewed the notes, we realized that—even around the table of leaders—there was some lack of knowledge and understanding of what data we were gathering about our students, what it meant, and how we were using it. I realized we had moved quite a distance from where we started on this data-gathering journey. While everyone was there at the start—not everyone had kept pace with our progress.
As one team member pointed out, we can also do a much better job of using data to support recruitment: “We tell the stories of our kids. How can we better show how these stories evolve? It’s not magic. It’s thoughtful, systematic, and child-centered.” We decided collectively that finding better ways to communicate data—internally and externally—had to be our immediate improvement priority.
The Performance Practice kicked us in our collective behinds. It focused our discourse and consideration in a way that:
- Disrupts complacency by forcing a deep dive inward—and a thoughtful look outside to the marketplace
- Requires personal as well as professional learning
- Unifies departments by challenging us to make this happen throughout the program—with admins, teachers, parents, and students
- Requires us to use the data in marketing and branding.
My take away: The first bullet alone is worth the time and effort we’re investing in the Performance Practice.
Prioritizing our use of data and communication cuts across every operation in the school. It starts with how we serve the students and requires us to discern how we know we are successful. But it quickly moves to operations, finance, outreach, branding, personnel, training—so everyone gets wet when this data thing splashes down.
As a kick in the behind often does, we’re forced to take a fresh look at where we are and roll up our sleeves to continue—and improve—our work on behalf of the students and the families we serve.