If you’re employed as a K-12 educator in the United States of America (and possibly elsewhere), you know all too well the unpleasantness that is data analysis. (And if you don’t know anything about that of which I speak, you’re either not paying one bit of attention to what’s happening at your workplace, you work in a place that’s impressively managed to escape the wrath of politicians’ blame-it-on-the-teachers mentality, or you actually enjoy the practice, which means there’s something seriously wrong with you because nobody likes analyzing that shit. NOBODY.)
If you’re employed as a K-12 educator in the United States of America, then you also DREAD inservices and staff meetings devoted to “digging into the data” and “crunching the numbers” and using this crap to “inform your instruction” because you, having extensively studied educational psychology and having graduated from an institution of higher learning or two with one, two, three, or even four degrees, know that the data they’re asking you to analyze actually tells you fuck all about the things you really need to know about your students.
Moreover, if you’re employed as a K-12 educator in the United States of America, you also know that while your administrators may seem like the devil incarnate for subjecting you to this unconscionable torture, it’s not really fair to shoot the messengers. Chances are they, too, know just as well as anybody with a brain that the usefulness of this data to your craft is meager at best.
Therefore, if you’re employed as a K-12 educator in the United States of America, you’re challenged with enduring hours of mindless data analysis while at the same time refraining from pitchforking your superiors and/or burning them at the stake. Not an easy task. Not an easy task at all.
That’s why I’ve created the following trusty teachers’ guide to surviving data analysis: so you can survive the task with some semblance of sanity while also not getting fired for insubordination or arrested for murder. You’re welcome.
Steps to Surviving Data Analysis (for Teachers):
Avoid muttering “GODDAMMIT” or “THIS FUCKING SHIT TODAY?” too loudly upon discovering the meeting will involve “digging into the data.”
Smile and nod while administrators and other faculty present the positives of data analysis even though on the inside you’re brainstorming 64 ways to commit suicide.
Try not to let the people at the table next to yours overhear you asking your colleague what the fuck this data is supposed to tell you about the students sitting in your remedial class that you hadn’t already figured out from the mere fact that they’re IN YOUR REMEDIAL CLASS.
Eat more of the cookies they put out to keep you from organizing a coup. Cookies are good.
Pretend you have a clue which document you’re supposed to open even though none of the documents you think you’re supposed to open appear to contain any data whatsoever, useful or otherwise.
Settle on a document to open just so it looks like you’re doing something.
Don’t bother mentioning that you have no idea how the hell you’re supposed to read this document. Is the dot next to the kid’s name and the subject area a good dot or a bad dot? Nobody knows.
Discuss with colleagues at your table what you’ve concluded to be the obvious:
green = good standardized test takers/smart kids/children with tiger moms/chronic overachievers
red = bad standardized test takers/ESL students/special education students/apathetic students/students who shouldn’t have to be subjected to taking a stupid standardized test because how cruel/dropouts
yellow = CAUTION/slow down/yield/just kidding, you have no idea
Write something down on your class rosters. Anything. Write anything down. It looks productive.
Pretend you have to pee. Get up to go pretend potty.
Miraculously locate the name of a student in one of your classes in the document. Regurgitate somewhat loudly and authoritatively his/her subject area scores. Sound like this will somehow help you “fix” him/her by June.
Look around the room and begin collecting your own data about the following:
teachers whose eyes have appeared to glaze over
teachers who have perfected the art of looking productive
teachers who have given up altogether and taken to playing solitaire on their tablets/laptops
teachers feigning a discussion about the data
teachers contemplating Hara-Kiri
teachers actually trying their best to understand and analyze the data in a misguided belief that culturally biased standardized test scores supersede getting to know students as learners and assessing their progress/needs on an individual, personalized level (bless their hearts)
Avoid reminding yourself that watching a banana ripen would constitute a better use of your time.
Have another cookie. You deserve another fucking cookie.
Neatly stack your doodled-on class rosters, close your tablet/laptop, and place your pen/pencil on the table while adopting a look of accomplishment in an attempt to signal that this madness has gone on long enough.
Upon release, try not to trample your coworkers in the hysterical rush for the exits.
Drink. Heavily. It keeps the nightmares at bay.