Early in my career, I often thought about student behavior, not from the students’ perspective, but from my own. There were (and still are) many instances where students were off task in my class, and often the signals were as bright as a flashing, neon sign. It was like they were calling out to me, in their own way, telling me that things were not right for them in that moment.

It might be easiest to reflect on the noisy, rambunctious students who would often blurt out answers, distract peers, or just be loud for, what seemed, no good reason. I would utilize several strategies; proximity, lowering my voice, asking a question, taking a knee beside the student and asking them to stop. Most of the time the strategies would work, sometimes they would not.

There were also those students who were sending signals in a different way. Students who sat quietly, disengaged. These students, it seemed, were not interested in what we were discussing. It appeared as though they had learned how to ‘play the game of school’. It was like they thought, “if I don’t cause trouble, I won’t get trouble.” I really wonder how many of these students I failed to reach over the years.

I feel bad about that.

In his eight mind frames for teachers, John Hattie states, “my fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of my teaching on students’ learning and achievement.

I was too focused on evaluating the effect of my teaching on students’ behavior. Instead of looking at their behavior as an indicator of engagement, relevance, or rigor, I looked at their behavior as a reflection of who they were as students. I was also only observing and judging, not sitting beside and asking.

What do YOU think? Whether you are an EA informing and supporting learning, a teacher working with a classroom of students, or a school or system leader working with a staff, you can evaluate your effect.

  • how can we strengthen how we use observations to evaluate our effect? How do we go deeper?
  • what are some ways to collect data that will help us evaluate our effect on learning?
  • when you hear the word ‘data’ you might think of test scores, however they do not always tell the whole story. What are other forms of data that can be collected in efficient, meaningful ways?
  • what are some ways you invite feedback from your learners?
  • how do you help your learners develop their ability to give you meaningful feedback that you can analyze?
  • in your opinion, how are behavior and achievement linked? Is this different when considering adult learning?

Let’s keep the conversation going. Add your comments below.

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