Data Collection

Today, February 4th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Balancing my old, green suitcase next to me, I scanned my surroundings.  A restroom must be nearby, I thought to myself.  As fate would have it, my search didn’t last long.  Across from Starbuck’s, I spotted the sign.

Wading through dupattas, yarmulkes, turbans, baseball caps, men, women, and children – the sea of diversity that is Newark Liberty International Airport – I finally arrived at my temporary destination.

Once inside, I saw it.  It was located just above the automatic hand dryer.  The sign read, “How was your experience?”  Just beneath this question were three round buttons: happy face (green), ambivalent face (yellow), and sad face (red).  Data, I thought.  They’re collecting data on . . . the cleanliness of the airport restroom? That was my best guess, anyway.

Immediately, I thought about the people who actually do the work of maintaining restroom facilities in an airport.  How hard they must work.  And I thought about those collecting and analyzing the performance data being collected on airline customers.  Of course, concurrently this made me think about the current state of affairs in public schools, how we as teachers are constantly being asked to collect data on our students. And I get it.  John Hattie says, “Know they impact.”  It makes sense.  We do need to know where are students are in relation to visions of high level work.

But I worry sometimes.  Like the restroom smiley and sad faces, have we gone too far?  Could someone lose their job if too many sad faces are pushed?  Has all this data collection removed some of the humanity we once enjoyed?

I pulled my hands from beneath the dryer and pushed the green button.  Who knows, maybe I helped somebody out that day.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

6 thoughts on “Data Collection”

  1. Yes – knowing the purpose for data collection – for students, teachers, parents, and administrators – is essential. Without the why behind the data, it rarely moves beyond the number. Hattie does say data is powerful, but only if we use it with the learner and engage them in the process. You point out the problem with data collection in this situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay for pushing the green button!
    BUT, you ask an important question: “Has all this data collection removed some of the humanity we once enjoyed?” Yes, yes it has. (It all started with those bonus cards at the grocery store back in the late 80s. That’s the first time I remember data being collected on me in some way.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love that you pushed the green button with the hope the belief that maybe you just did something good today. The best data we can collect is in the faces and tones of those around us. Let’s keep collecting that! Great slice!


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