GUEST BLOGGER: Mary Anne Mather, Using Data Facilitator & Social Media Liaison on Twitter & FaceBook

Following my PLN (professional learning network) on Twitter is inspiring, and something I consider a precious asset as a lifelong learner. Not a day goes by that I don’t discover an interesting idea, resource, or news bit — all brought right to my doorstep (eDoorstep?). It’s like getting the education version of a good old-fashioned newspaper delivered daily, without the need to recycle. newspaper on slate with apple

Each day confirms again that there is a network of amazing educators out there, as well as informed stakeholders who honor and support them. It allays my growing annoyance with the regular assault on U.S. teacher competency that the news-waves currently pass along. As one recent tweet so aptly noted, “Teachers are not simply tools to be used by bureaucrats to implement policy.” I agree.

I especially enjoy when some of the news that crosses my path helps me to “connect the dots” with the work I do as a TERC Using Data Facilitator. My PLN members help with the heavy lifting—moving my thinking from one place to another and prompting me to recognize how that thinking connects to the good work of others. That happened Saturday while I was exploring a new follower’s (@kristinmjordan) Twitter timeline. And, this is her re-tweet that stirred me:

Great post! “5 Powerfully Positive Teaching Practices” http://ow.ly/4hVaz via @TeachHub

two figures holding up an arrowThe article pays tribute to five strategies that are elegantly simple, yet amazingly powerful. The first practice in particular resonated:

“Help Your Students Visualize Their Progress
Teachers who thought in terms of seeing, visually either using data graphs, charts, or other visual means to show student gains, were more successful in engaging their students on the idea that they could learn.”

Dot #1: This notion of “Go-Visual” specifically relates to Step #2 in a four-phase dialogue process that the teacher-based data teams we work with use to effectively analyze student data in order to pinpoint very specific student learning needs and identify instructional practices to address them. I know it works for teachers—great idea to use the strategy with students!

Dot #2: I had already planned to post a new blog entry on Monday, March 28 that explains how the Go-Visual process works—what precedes it and what happens next. (Subscribe to our blog, and you’ll be notified when it’s posted.)

Dot #3: Inspired by another PLN member last January, I posted a blog entry that links to his explanation about how he uses visual data with his students and the results it gets—Training the Next Generation of Data Specialists.

Twitter allows us to share ideas that really can work. As accomplished professionals, we are able to get results by skillfully manipulating these shared strategies and bits of wisdom to serve the contexts we work in—variations on a good theme, executed by educators who know their stuff.

Without my PLN, I’d miss so many things that really get me thinking about my own responsibilities to support and promote great teaching and learning. Thank you to those I faithfully follow on Twitter. I encourage our blog readers to have a look and select your own “following” from among them. I guarantee that if you are interested in illuminating answers and stimulating questions about teaching and learning, these are the folks to get to know. (And maybe you’ll consider following me, too!)