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NYC Helpline: How To: Develop as a Professional

Using Data to Organize for Effort
Theresa London Cooper

Time and time again we assess our students. Too often the data we collect sit in a file as isolated pieces of information used only to complete report cards or when promotional status comes into question. However, the information gathered can be invaluable if we use it to organize and drive our instruction.

Based on your assessments, have you thought about what your students must learn? Do you have a plan as to how you will teach the information? Does your room arrangement facilitate the learning? If so, great! If not, what can you do?

Many New York City teachers are familiar with the nine Principles of Learning:

  1. Organize for Effort
  2. Clear Expectations
  3. Recognition of Accomplishments
  4. Fair and Credible Evaluation
  5. Academic Rigor in a Thinking Curriculum
  6. Accountable Talk
  7. Socializing Intelligence
  8. Self-management of Learning
  9. Learning as Apprenticeship

As professionals, we can Organize for Effort (everything is organized to support high achievement and the best efforts of all students to learn) and we must take the time to reflect on how best to organize our plans, our rooms and our students to optimize learning.

Ask yourself the following questions.


  • What should I teach first?
  • When will I complete my planning in order to be prepared for the following week of instruction?
  • How will I budget my time—
    • to collect the necessary materials and become familiar with them to utilize them effectively with my students?
    • to accommodate my students’ need for additional time to complete assignments?
    • to accommodate my students’ need to understand important concepts?
    • to provide guided and independent practice?


  • How will I organize my learning?
  • How will I arrange my seating – pairs, triads, and quads?
  • Should I create a space for students who may need time alone to concentrate and refocus their attention in order to complete their work? If so, where?


  • What are the most essential procedures to introduce to set a tone for learning?
  • How will I motivate students to practice the procedures until they become routines?
  • What rules will the students and I establish for our classroom-learning environment?
  • How will I group students who will work best together to support each other’s learning, and benefit from the partnership?
  • How will I help students organize themselves and their materials?

Answers to these questions will help you design and maintain an environment which will support the best efforts of our students.

Do you have a comment or question about this article? E-mail Theresa.


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