I was lucky enough to have just completed an on-line post-graduate class facilitated by Hilda Weisberg this Fall (2016). She is an amazing educator and inspired human being who is such an asset to our profession. It was a privilege to discuss librarianship and best practices with her and my classmates.
The course was Leadership for Librarians, which is something not very many of us is comfortable with - me included! It is far easier to stay in the background and to do our important work quietly and effectively without bringing too much attention to ourselves or our programs, but Hilda made it clear that we need to be leaders in our schools and communities to showcase what we do; to prove our value to our stakeholders. One thing is clear: a strong leader definitely uses Evidence Based Practices as part of their long-term and short-term goal setting.
In this class, we wrote our Vision and Mission statements and then created 3-year action plans designed to accomplish our visions. During this course, I had an epiphany where I realized that I was an outstanding manager, but only a mediocre leader. I have all the tools I need to become a better leader, but I have to put the pieces all together to realize my potential.
Evidence Based Practice is a big part of how we gain confidence and "tell our story". All of the authors featured in the "Resources to Explore" portion of this assignment - Hilda Weisberg, Jennifer LaGarde, Joyce Valenza, Ross Todd - all indicated in their posts, presentations, and articles a common thread: we know what we do is important, and we know we're having an impact, but how do we SHOW that with solid evidence?
Ross & Hay did a fantastic job giving concrete examples of what evidence-based claims look like in their AASL 2015 presentation. They are specific, but not necessarily based solely on figures, because let's face it - sometimes it's near impossible to put a figure on something intangible like "understanding". If we formally pre- and post-tested every skill we taught, we'd lose at least 1/3 of our instructional time. This is not to undervalue assessments, because they are indeed immensely important in both informing our instruction as well as providing data on student achievement - but sometimes the assessment is simply the product of the learning, not a formal test on if you know the vocabulary or if you can replicate the usage of the skill out of context.
Joyce Valenza lists ways we can capture evidence of our students' learning, and I was thrilled to see NoodleTools and Google Classroom listed among the resources. I already lavished praise on NoodleTools in my previous post, but seriously - this is the BEST tool EVER! My administrators and families are always so impressed with what students can accomplish with it, and I love that everything is recorded and time stamped and that students can collaborate and we can all share comments, etc. If you're not using NoodleTools, you should check it out. Perhaps you're happy with just Google Classroom, but I still think NoodleTools adds an important layer that does not exist on the Google platform. Also, Joyce's exit questions are excellent and offer a great jumping point for our own information gathering. And like Hilda, Joyce also sees the strong connection between leadership and EBP.
In sum, my quarterly reports have become better thanks to participating in Jennifer LaGarde's workshop sponsored by my local BOCES groups last year (I enjoyed sitting next to you that day, Polly!!), and my vision has been solidified thanks to Hilda Weisberg's guidance in my grad class - and now I'm just putting my plan into action, one measurable step at a time. EBP is an important part of this process and one that guides and shapes everything I do professionally.