How to measure the impact of your teaching

The whole point of teaching is to help others grow. You know that… I know that… and yet, when it comes to reflecting on what we do (against these Australian standards for teachers) we often forget all about it. We talk more about WHAT we did and HOW we did rather than WHY we did it and whether we succeeded. The success you achieve (or not!) is the impact that you need to record for Proficient, Highly Accomplished and LEAD (and to help you see how awesome you are).

The question of how you even measure and show your impact is a big one! It’s actually surprisingly simple; it’s rather scientific. It’s part of your preparation and becomes a part of your planning. You’re probably doing it anyway… Let me share some tips with you.

Now, there are many places where your impact could be felt. That impact could reach wide and far or be concentrated upon a very specific person. There are many, many ways you could write about impact. For example:

  •  Impact in one lesson on one or a group of students
  •  Impact on a colleague’s (that includes your student teachers) practice.
  •  Impact at a whole site level on a particular theme (scores went up, community grew etc)

our jobs are fabulous and many and we have a massive impact everywhere all day… that’s why we love what we’re doing… and it’s possibly why this question of impact can seem hopelessly overwhelming.

I could write a post on each and every one (with some examples) but… to start with, I think we’ll go with a broad formula that would apply to all of these types. The good news is, by writing and reflecting regularly, you’ll see this impact really clearly. In fact you’ll start to see impact where you didn’t even know it existed and (perhaps more importantly) you’ll find new ways, and new places to grow you impact on others.

Below, I’ll share four steps to help you frame your reflections around impact.  The audience you choose for your posts is very personal to you.  So, for the purposes of this post, we’ll address your audience by the name “us”.  “Us” can be whomsoever you would like it to be.. it’ll just make this feel more conversational (and hopefully more easily accessible)

Step 1: Measure and Define the NOW

I know, that sounds corny (I kinda did that on purpose) but, the reality is… without knowing what and why you’re trying to impact, you won’t know how to measure it and you won’t see it growing. Start with where we’re at now. “X needs/would like to grow Y and I can help by doing Z”. In writing these paragraph… it could even be an evidence post in itself! (yes.. you’ll write more than one sentence here), you’ll want to give us some background.

Who is X?

What are the important and influencing factors about X that could do with being recorded?  Is there a particular story behind who they are and how they got to the point they’re at now?

By the way… it is a very good idea not reveal who X actually is…. That goes for any artefacts you share too.. Be mindful of anonymity.  Redact names, etc.

How do you know what they’d like to /need to grow?

(that’s Y remember). Have you got some data that you can share that shows where they’re at now? This is where an artefact will be handy… data could be scores from tests or an example of work that’s been marked by you (or a colleague). It could be an observation you made whilst working with them or it maybe that they have simply identified you as an expert who might be able to help them – did they send you an email you can copy in (names removed)

What’s Z?

The thing that you’ve decided you’re going to do to help them grow? You’re making a leap of faith… you don’t know if this will work but you’ve made an informed decision to try this particular strategy… why? What’s pointing you in that direction?

Step 2: Record your moves and the results they produced

Now do your thing.  Teach away! Select strategies, share stories, go to PD to learn more…. but don’t stop at telling me the what and the how.  Now you know where your person started and where they want to be… so make sure you check in regularly.  Set them or yourself a target and keep measuring against it.  Describe the strategy and now find me the artefacts to show me if it worked.

For example, if your X was that you wanted to increase a student’s ability to use varied sentence styles then you need to make sure you’re tracking their work over time and explaining what it shows.  Have an artefact which shows the problem you’ve identified, now:

  • Tell us what you did in the lesson to help (Differentiate, used support staff, changed pedagogy, shared a resource etc)
  • Show (not tell) us the work they produced after your intervention… Does it show improvement? How?

This is data, it’s evidence of impact and hopefully the impact is growth. Data can be scores, it can be written work, letters or emails, attendance scores.. what ever is relevant to the target you set.  Just make sure that, when you include it, you explain how it show’s they’ve moved forward from point X.

Step 3: Collate evidence over time, show the impact and analyse what it shows

This would probably be another post.  You’d grab the data you’d collected over several lessons/sessions and you’d look for differences.  Remember how you defined the goal in the first step. Start exploring whether or not you can see the growth.  Share examples of student work (from the same student) over time and explore how that work shows that progress.  Look at the target you set and measure this work against it..  Say, for example you’re working on their sentence construction:

  • Are their sentence constructions growing in sophistication?
  • Can you identify when that started to happen?
  • Have you asked them what’s worked? Got that recorded with their work?  I love a but of a teacher student conversation in the margin… very handy (and lovely).

Step 4 – Reflect on how this helped you grow

The point of being a member of the Edufolios tribe is to connect and grow.  You’ve been working hard here to show how your impact has helped someone else make great progress… Now stop… breathe…  (grab that chocolate) and re -read this collection of evidence.

Look at you go!!!   What did you learn through this process?  Any surprises? What do you want to learn next? Set yourself a target and start all over again at step 1 😉 This time.. share that target with a colleague and ask them to help you…. Now they can grow their H.A. evidence too and they can use your reflections as artefacts – BINGO! Always remember to share where someone has helped you and to write about how.  Make it easy for them to find the data they need.  I met a number of people who have not made it past stage 1 because they didn’t have enough evidence from colleagues about their impact… hand it to them on a plate as you reflect on what you’re learning from each other! 🙂

What’s your biggest take-away from this post?  Share in the comments below.

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