Sunday, November 7, 2010

November 8 - Evidence Based Practice for all of us

Last week, during our administration team meeting, we were looking at our School Improvement Plan. Our board wants us to have SMART goals (SMART's an acronym that stands for something like "strategic-measureable-attainable...") and many of my colleagues felt uneasy with the notion of proving how we were helping students learn and assigning percentages to the gains. As a teacher-librarian, none of this was new to me. Teacher-librarians have been using evidence-based practice for quite a while now. Clearly demonstrating exactly how (and by how much) the school library program contributes to student learning was necessary because the school library staffing was neither automatic nor guaranteed. Regular classroom teachers aren't used to having to prove their worth, or the worth of what they do in the classroom, because classrooms aren't in danger of being cancelled. Creating end goals with evidence to support the success can be a good mindset to get into, because it makes you examine what you are teaching, and how effective it is. Sure, it'd be nice to worry about other things instead of collecting statistics, but if we look at it as assessment for/of learning rather than a pointless bureaucratic exercise, it becomes less of a pill to swallow. As long as we ensure that we are measuring what we think we are measuring (I had this aha while writing my 2009-2010 annual report and altered it to reflect my new understandings), then it might be worth the effort. As Anita Brooks-Kirkland said on her blog, we cannot rely on vague feel-good statements about school libraries.

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