When I moved to Utah from St. Louis, I faced a problem of cartographical proportions: the grid system. Most of the cities in Utah were originally planned using a grid system. Within the grid system, the city is laid out in a Cartesian coordinate plane, with two streets forming the axes (Center Street was the X-Axis, and Main Street the Y-Axis). So the street that runs parallel to and is one block north of Center Street is called 100 North. Likewise, the street that runs parallel to and is one block west of Main Street is called 100 West. This system is not exclusive to Utah, but the Mormon settlers of Utah planned their cities primarily using this grid system.
Like many other non-Utah natives, this system baffled me at first. I did know two things. 1. I was not where I wanted to be. 2. I knew where I wanted to be, or at least the address of my final destination. I didn’t know where to begin in riding the bus to 196 South 100 West. And when I downloaded directions from MapQuest, I didn’t necessarily know how to interpret that into bus directions.
Fortunately, I gradually mastered the grid system. I found that it is an efficient way method for navigating from place to place. I still occasionally run into a situation where 100 West ceases to exist for a couple of blocks (darn city parks!), but I can work my way around.
Many teachers find themselves in a similar situation. They know their classroom isn’t functioning the way they want, and they may look at another teacher and say, “I want my class to run like that!” But between the constant pressures of teaching and a never-ending stream of mixed messages about what is actually effective in education, it can be difficult to determine how to create your dream classroom.
When my wife and I drive around together, I usually ask her to navigate if I am driving. Having her look at Google Maps while we drive reduces my anxiety about finding my way and helps me to focus on what is most important. In driving, that usually means avoiding fist bumps with other cars.
In education, having an effective navigator to read the map is equally helpful. Typically, we turn to other educational experts to help us figure out ways to improve our practice. This may be a school administrator, an instructional coach, or another teacher. However, there are other observers who can see much more of what happens in the classroom than even a carefully trained expert. As James Surowiecki explains in The Wisdom of Crowds, “If you put together a big enough and diverse enough group of people and ask them to ‘make decisions affecting matters of general interest,’ that group’s decisions will, over time, be ‘intellectually [superior] to the isolated individual,’ no matter how smart or well-informed he is.” All of the students together are much more capable of reporting what actually goes on in a classroom than any single observer, and when their reports are aggregated and subject to the teacher’s expert review, the teacher is empowered to make an enormous stride toward their dream classroom.
Co-Pilot is a free tool that allows teachers to understand their classroom from the perspective of their students. The system uses student reports of observable classroom behavior. Just as I referenced the city’s bus route maps and asked for directions from other bus patrons, Co-Pilot provides the vital pieces of information teachers need to make real change in their classrooms. It allows all of your students to be your navigators.
Co-Pilot collects student reports as frequently as each week. Students can use any Internet capable device to quickly report on the occurrence or nonoccurrence of specific instructional events. Because Co-Pilot collects student reports of teacher behavior, instead of student opinions, the data are actionable and objective. The process is minimally intrusive, as it typically takes a student 2-3 minutes each week to complete. At the end of each week, Co-Pilot aggregates all of the anonymous data into an actionable and responsive report format.
Educators know, and research has confirmed, that every class has unique needs. However, research also indicates that the environment that addresses all of these unique challenges produces the Conditions for Learning. Co-Pilot allows you to understand how effective you are in creating these critical Conditions for Learning. Paying attention to Co-Pilot reports will help you to improve attendance, enhance academic performance, improve social-emotional learning, reduce bullying, and improve overall student well being in a measureable way.
Interpreting Co-Pilot Reports: Structure of Data
Co-Pilot collects student reports about instructional events. Each item in Co-Pilot evaluates the occurrence or non-occurrence of an instructional event within a specified time period (typically the previous day or week). The events that Co-Pilot asks about are things that all contribute to creating the Conditions for Learning. These four Conditions are:
- The presence of clear expectations for performance.
- The provision of ample opportunities for students to build basic skills.
- Recognition of students for meeting performance expectations.
- The presence of positive relationships between all students and teachers.
Co-Pilot evaluates these four Conditions within two contexts. The first context is the relationship between student and teacher. The second includes the relationships between students and their peers.
Reading the Report
After you have collected Co-Pilot data, you should receive an email with a link to your report. The email will come early Sunday morning at the end of the week in which you collect the data. If you have collected data and not received a report, please email us at support [at] tetraanalytix [dot] com so we can help you resolve the issue.
Co-Pilot prompts students to respond to one item per condition; four conditions for each of the academic and social skills domains (what we call Focal Points), for a total of 8 items. Each condition starts off with a “yes/no” question (i.e. stem item) about whether or not an instructional event occurred during the last day or week. One of those two responses will lead to further clarification (i.e. leaf item), so that more detail regarding instruction is provided by those 8 items.
When students submit a response, they respond to two types of items: stem items and leaf items. Every student will respond to every stem item. However, Co-Pilot will only prompt students with leaf items for follow-up information depending on their response to the corresponding stem item. For example, if a student responds “Yes” to the stem item “Yesterday at school, did your teacher call you by name?” then the student will have the option to respond to the leaf item “When did he/she call you by name?” The screenshot below shows two scenarios of a student responding to the stem item.
The Co-Pilot Report uses colors and numbers to summarize the collected data. Colored squares summarize the “yes/no” responses. Green is good, red needs immediate attention, yellow is typical, and purple is exemplary. These colors are a direct reflection of students perceiving the presence of that condition given the indicator assessed by the item. You can then access additional information provided by the follow up questions by expanding the table.
By clicking on any of the Conditions, some drop-down percentages will appear under the colored indicator square. Keep in mind that not all students will respond to the follow up questions. Thus, many educators have expressed to me some confusion about why the percentages under each item do not add up to the percentage that should correspond with the colored square’s percentage band. This discrepancy exists because the percentages under each indicator reflect only data from the leaf items of the student reports. As every student will not necessarily respond to every leaf item, the possible total will not likely be 100% of the class. Even if all students had an opportunity to respond to the leaf item, their responses may vary. In short, the way a student responds to the stem item does not guarantee his or her response to the leaf item.
Co-Pilot is a powerful tool that provides you with data-rich reports that are actionable and responsive. As you modify your instructional practice to be more effective, you and your students will notice the improvement. You will be able to track your progress through Co-Pilot. Most importantly, Co-Pilot will help you to improve your instruction to more effectively meet the needs of your students.
Of course, even teachers who use Co-Pilot encounter occasional roadblocks. A map gradually increased my ability to navigate the grid system and circumvent unforeseen obstacles. Even though learning to use the map didn’t account for every possibility, it did give me confidence to overcome dead ends. Co-Pilot helps teachers develop the necessary flexibility to deal with the ever-evolving challenges of teaching.
How Do I Sign Up For Co-Pilot?
Join the hundreds of other educators who have benefitted from Co-Pilot data! To sign up for a free Co-Pilot account for your classroom or school, please contact me by email at jmaynes [at] tetraanalytix [dot] com.