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Teacher Teamwork through Smart Data Use

January 20, 2016

The digital age has brought all kinds of exciting developments for teachers – and perhaps the greatest is the power of data, which allows teachers to give our students the right kind of assistance at the right time. More than ever before, we can see where students are struggling and give them personalized help to get them where they need to be. But it takes time to look at all that information, and even more time to make smart decisions about it – time that teachers don’t always have. That’s where people like biology teacher Erin Burns come in. At West Charlotte High School in Charlotte, N.C., she helps a whole team of teachers manage their data, and manage it well.

Though Burns is still in the classroom for a few periods a week, she spends most of her time coaching the other biology teachers on her team. They meet as a group each week to review their classes and discuss what they can change or improve. Every day, the teachers send the relevant information to Burns, who has enough time to sort through it and figure out the most important insights. During the meetings, Burns presents the information and offers the teachers advice on how they can best support their students. Thanks to her help, they’ve used strategies from small groups to personalized review assignments to entirely new lessons.

As Burns herself puts it, this style of teaching teamwork “has not only made our teaching better, it’s made it more interesting.” The biology students are performing better than ever, and the team has even had time to introduce exciting new projects like growing strawberries in the school’s greenhouse. Thanks to their smart use of data, Burns and her team are increasing student achievement – and helping to nurture more engaged, enthusiastic young scientists.