This is the latest in a series of blogs by a partnering cohort teacher.
By T-L Rogers
My focus so far this school year has been on collecting narrative data. The method I chose for my primary data collection is through a weekly check-in created in Microsoft Forms and distributed to students via Microsoft Teams on Monday mornings. The survey (discussed in my blog post from last year) asks students to complete 4 statements each week:
These statements are then followed by an optional request for a midweek check-in with a teacher of their choice. After reading their responses, I try to determine jobs students can have in the classroom (paper passer, etc. based on how they feel they can be most helpful). I also create a table of responses of those students who have requested midweek check-ins and distribute them to their respective teachers so they know what to ask about. Here are some of the many take-aways I have gathered from conducting this type of data collection:
By collecting this data on Mondays, I am trying to gauge what kind of week we may be able to expect. Some students have disclosed tensions at home that have distracted their focus while others have shared their excitement for an upcoming birthday or family event that have made them more hyper or talkative in class. While it is not an exact science, their responses give me some insight. In one particular case, a student’s response changed my entire rapport and future interactions with him.
One Monday, a young man who rarely talked to me and often rolled his eyes any time I corrected anything he did responded to his check-in that he may be distracted by his dog. After reading his answer during the very same period he submitted it, I approached him casually during some downtime and inquired further. Was it a particular situation he was concerned about or was he just going to be thinking about or missing his dog? It turns out his chihuahua had hurt his back and he was really worried about him. From one seemingly insignificant statement, I learned many things: this student had 3 dogs total, the breeds of each, their names, their ages, their current circumstances, and most importantly, that I was speaking with a sensitive and caring young man.
We had a little heart-to-heart about pets and how we often worry about them like family, and then we somewhat bonded over our shared love of animals. The next day, I asked how his doggo was doing, and his face lit up while he told me he was doing better. I think more than anything, he was surprised that I took the time to approach him and ask about his dog. That I remembered. That I cared. Since that day, he has been much easier to talk to and more compliant with my directions in the classroom. On the occasions I have had to discipline him, he has not shown the same type of attitude as he originally did.
I feel like I need to add a little *results not typical disclaimer like a promising weight loss program as I understand that not every simple question asked and answered will lead to the same breakthrough. However, if it happens even once, isn’t it worth that one simple question? I still have some logistical details to figure out moving forward, but eventually I am hoping to compare these weekly survey responses against red marks in agendas (how we track discipline issues) each week to see if any correlations exist.
The other aspect of this data collection process that I really love is the weekly check-in requests with teachers. A few of our middle school teachers have developed a little bit of a fan group of the same students who request a check-in each week (about 2-4 students per teacher). Their responses to the other questions may be dynamic, but they typically want to see the same teacher each week. It is also interesting to see a new student request pop up and inspires me to analyze their other answers more thoroughly to see what might be going on that prompted the request.
While I got a late start on conducting these weekly check-ins this school year due to the late rollout of the 5th grade iPads, I am thankful we finally do have the opportunity to use data collection measures such as this as often as we desire. When the schedule gets crazy or we have professional days on Mondays, the students are always quick to remind me that they need to do their check-in for the week. I believe it is something that many of them look forward to as a way to communicate with teachers that they might not otherwise have the time, opportunity, or motivation to do on their own.
T-L Rogers graduated from Arizona State University in 2008 with a B.A. in English. She pursued a career in education through an alternative pathway via the Phoenix Teaching Fellows in 2010, assuming her first teaching position as a K-3 Special Education teacher at Percy L. Julian School in Phoenix, AZ. T-L completed her M.Ed. in Special Education in 2013 from Arizona State University and has since begun coursework toward an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in Special Education through Grand Canyon University. T-L currently is a member of Cohort 3 of The Data and Technology Fluency Project with West Liberty University and the CREATE Lab (situated in Carnegie Mellon University). T-L’s special interests include dancing (a previous career) and various animal rescue efforts such as volunteering, fundraising, donating hand-made blankets and other supplies to local rescue groups, community education, and adoption.