Humanizing Your Data: These Are Our Students, Not Stats

In today's world, data is king. We use data to make decisions about everything from what products to buy to where to send our kids to school. But what happens when we start to see students as data points instead of people?

The Pressure to Provide 

We always read articles or books about students losing sight of the real goal of school–learning–but teachers can as well. Teachers become so fixated on students' stats for various reasons:

  • Accountability: Teachers are often held accountable for their students' performance on standardized tests. This means that their jobs may be at risk if their students do not perform well.
  • School funding: Schools are often funded based on the performance of their students on standardized tests. This means that schools with lower-performing students may receive less funding, which can make it difficult to provide quality education. No teacher wants to feel like it is their fault the school is not receiving funding.
  • Parental pressure: Parents often want to know how their children are performing in school. They may ask teachers for their children's grades, test scores, and other data. Teachers can feel pressured to tell parents their students are doing well on exams. 
  • Pressure from the media: The media often reports on the performance of schools and students on standardized tests. This can put pressure on teachers to ensure that their students perform well.

When we treat students as data, we lose sight of their humanity. We forget that they are individuals with unique strengths, weaknesses, and experiences. We also forget that they are children who are still learning and growing.

This can have a number of negative consequences. For example, when we treat students as data, we are more likely to make decisions that are based on their test scores or their socioeconomic status instead of their individual needs. We are also more likely to label students as "good" or "bad" based on their performance instead of seeing them as complex individuals with the potential to learn and grow. Explore these ideas and the different ways to reframe your thinking in Hacking Deficit Thinking and remove deficit thinking from your classroom today.

Humanize Your Data

So how can we humanize our data and start seeing students as people? Here are a few tips:

  • Get to know your students. The more you know about your students, the easier it will be to see them as individuals. Talk to them about their interests, their hobbies, and their families. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your students and how they learn will allow you to revitalize your teaching.
  • Use visuals to tell stories. Data can be dry and boring, but visuals can help to bring it to life. Use charts, graphs, and other visuals to tell the stories of your students. This will help you to see them as individuals and to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Use data to inform your decisions, but don't let it dictate them. Data can be a helpful tool, but it's important to remember that it's not the only factor to consider when making decisions about students. Always use your judgment and your knowledge of the individual student when making decisions.
  • Use data to personalize instruction. Data can be used to personalize instruction for each student. This means providing each student with the instruction that they need to succeed. For example, if a student is struggling with a particular concept, you can use data to identify the specific areas where they need help. You can then provide them with targeted instruction to help them master the concept.
  • Focus on the positive. It's easy to get caught up in the negative when we're looking at data. But it's important to remember that every student has strengths and potential. Focus on the positive aspects of each student and use that as a starting point for their learning.

By following these tips, we can start to humanize our data and see students as people. This will help us to make better decisions about their education and create a more supportive learning environment for all students.

Main post image by Yan Krukau via Pexels

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