November brings in the excitement of the holidays (or holiday breaks…) but it also brings this subtle undertone of “you better be getting stuff done by now.” You no longer have the start of the school, easing into our year, working on our schedules excuse. It’s November. We’ve had time to get chocolate chip cookie with it and we’ve started delving into the whole assessment, behavior, curriculum world. Now it’s time to get into something that we’ve all been dreading – data. Well, expect me. I’m a complete data nerd and literally cannot wait to get started on it. But I think it’s worthwhile to spend the start of the school year getting assessments completed, working on behaviors, and making yourself a reinforcer. Now that’s been started (started, not done, those tasks are never done, it’s always an ongoing process!), it’s time to make some space in your head for data!

For some reason, data scares people. It sounds complicated, time consuming, and pointless. I get it. Many data systems are over complicated and if it’s over complicated it’s time consuming. As special ed teachers we don’t have a spare second to our name. In today’s world, data has become quite the buzz word. If you want to nail a job interview, just throw in “data-based decision making” and “data systems” 46 times and you will get the job. Because data has become a buzz word, loads of people in high ranking admin positions – who in reality don’t really know that much about data – decided to get in on the game and created complicated and unnecessary data systems for our school districts. Pointless data is my nemesis. I get your frustration with it. But that is absolutely not what I’m talking about today. I am talking about data with a purpose. Data that let’s you know your teaching is working and your student is learning. Data that shows you where to take your instruction next. That is the kind of data we can all get on board with!

I have done loads and loads of posts about data. Here are some of my favs for your late night reading pleasure:

These are two must-reads:

And some other favs:

Above all, we HAVE to ensure we are setting up data systems in a way we can actually use it! There is no point to meticulously created data sheet that sits with dust on it all year. This month we are all about that efficient data that you can ACTUALLY take during a hectic and busy school day.