Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Part 4: Let's Talk about Accountability

If your position or department has recently be created, you have some serious work cut out for you. In a previous post, I mentioned getting runs on the board to build your brand within the school. Even if your department or position is clearly defined and has been around awhile, you should still track your time. There are several apps on the market for doing this, but I decided to build my own with a Form. The link is to a copy of the Time Taker Form, I only ask that you create your own copy and then edit and adjust as you need. The Form allows me to record, what type of work I do, who I do it with, how long it takes, and notes to explain in detail what was done.

I was once involved in a rather heated debate about using this Form with a colleague. His argument was that our positions were created and therefore our time and work was understood and did not require defending. I, on the other hand, felt that our positions had been created, but that management did it on a leap of faith; they really had zero idea about what we did or how we did it. Tracking our time was a way to show what type of work we did and how much time that work took. A visible way to describe our role as an EdTech Department.

In the end, we agreed to disagree about that matter, but I still feel that tracking your time is a valuable tool. Especially if you are planning to request more time, money, and/or staff for your team. Believe me -- administrators and school boards are going to ask why you need more. If you can't physically show them, you aren't going to get more time, money, or staff. Tracking your time is doing yourself a favor; plus, it provides that all important component of accountability. If being accountable frightens you, you should stop working in education; you should especially quit working in EdTech. This is a job for self motivated people who get things done, not for lazy lumps.

First, you should provide more than one type of data. Second, you should share this information with your Admin Team and review it. Draw conclusions from it; use it to suggest trends and problems that can be solved. We use student data to drive instruction; we should use perforemce data to make decisions about funding and staffing. 

If you look at the results I have from Term 1 of SY2016-17, you see that some interesting information comes to light very quickly. I spend a great deal of my time focused on the
entire school (40.4%). After that high school (20.6%), middle school (16.9%), and First Program (FP; 10.4%) get my time in that order. This opens up questions as to why? Am I upable to help FP enough? Are FP teachers not requesting my support? How can we better serve FP? What type of support do they need?

You can also see that the majority of my time is spent creating & building (23.4%) and planning & research (25.9%). This makes a lot of sense considering the department didn't exist before. We are in a building phase and the department's role is being defined, but what should the trend be next year? Will the focus continue being creating & building and planning & research, or will it change to focus on co-teaching & co-planning? What direction do we want to move in as a school? Strategic thinking starts with looking at data and dicussing it, reflecting on it, and analyzing it. This leads to informed decision making on the institutional level.

The histogram provides more interesting information. The vast majority of my time is spent in activities and meetings that last less than 60 minutes. What you don't see in the chart, but you can understand from the spreadsheet, is that multiple short times are being used to complete tasks, which suggests that long periods of time to sit and focus on one project are actually difficult to come by in my day. This is only after one term! Imagine what we will have to look at after one year.

Part 3: Everybody's Cheerleader