Posted by: bwoof | February 6, 2015

What to do when you mess up

A brief look at my graph (minus a legend and other identifying features)

A brief look at my graph (minus a legend and other identifying features)

Yesterday I was very excited to get our Semester 1 final marks…finally.  I quickly scooped it into Excel, made a couple of lovely graphs, both bar and pie versions with colour, too.  I was eager to have some data prepped for our after-school Cabinet meeting (our school and department leaders) so that people could see that we are committed to focussing on real students and their achievement in live time.  Sounds like a great idea, right?

Well….it was…

And it wasn’t…

I asked our leaders to predict what the data would say and they all anticipated stats higher than what my beautiful graphs illustrated. There was a collective groan, perhaps even dismay, when I announced the less-than-desired stats.  I’m new to the school and had no prior comparator and didn’t think much about this reaction until later in the day.

“Why was there such a disconnect between what the experienced leaders expected and what my graphs depicted?”

That nagging question caused me to go back to the graphs and there I saw the problem.  Me!   I had messed up, not intentionally of course, but a real mess-up nevertheless. In my haste to make the graphs there was one line of really important data that I accidentally missed  (all the info about our students who earned marks above 90%) and it looked like only 52% of our students were at provincial standard.

I’m learning that it’s OK to learn with others, so I decided to just fess up and share the GOOD news that our student achievement data was actually much better.  Part of my message to the group included the following:

Grateful for:

  • Being able to revisit data and then come back to a safe group and say “I messed up”
  • Being at a school where so many of our credits are on track – students do well at our school
  • Being curious enough to ask questions and then look to others for ideas and inspiration

Wondering about:

  • Who are the students associated with the 30% of credits that are below standard?
  • Is 72% at standard good enough? What might be a target we’d be happy with?
  • What data could we use better to inform our next steps?
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