Data! Data! Data!

DataScientistJobDescriptions

We teachers use data to track all kinds of information related to our students’ academic, social or behavioral needs. We also have to keep track of our own growth data based on the goal(s) that we develop each year. The digital age has created numerous platforms to post and track this information over time, which are both a help and a hindrance because of the simple fact that before you can even put data on the computer, you first have to collect it! And that typically requires a few major things: the student, time, a pencil or pen (several actually, because pencils break and pens run out of ink at the most crucial data collection point), a timer, paper, any testing materials needed, space to do your data collection, peace and quiet, and lots of healthy brain cells. Once you collect your data, you need like a bazillion hours to put it into the computer….which always freezes or crashes, or you forget to save each time you enter new information, causing you to lose precious hours. Data collection is not easy, and it’s not fun.

Two big mantras now in education are “Data Drives Instruction” and “Research-based Instruction”…in a few years, it will change to other slogans, but the premises will still be the same. We also have all kinds of acronyms in our profession and each year, it seems like there are more acronyms added that we need to keep track of and remember. Here are just a few: IEP, GRE, SLO, PPT, ABA, IDEA, ADD, PTA, ELL, SST, GED, SAT, CAPT, WISC…..you get the picture.  All of these acronyms simply point to more data collection.

When I began this Lyme adventure, I started to keep track of my symptoms on my computer. I knew it would be a long haul, and with my memory slowly becoming more foggy, I needed to be able to share information with doctors in the future as best as I could. As with any data tracking system, you need to be able to first think how to best organize it all in a format that is easy for you to both input as well as read and understand. And then need to actually put the data into whatever system you create. And that’s where it can be tricky.

I like to say that I am type Z…there are type A people, and then there’s me. I start off like a type A person whenever I see someone who is truly organized. (I work with some really wonderful people who are truly exemplary in their type A-ness!) But then my type Z side slowly trickles in, and while I desire their A-ness from afar, I secretly relish in my Z-ness. ‘It’ll get done’ is my mantra. So what if my books aren’t alphabetized and sorted by size, color, and genre? What difference does it make if my reading bins aren’t all the same color? Who cares if my writing tools on my desk aren’t separated by type and in matching containers? And does it really matter if my assessment information for my whole class is in one manila folder, instead of categorized, in a binder, by student, and test, and marking period? As long as I have access to my stuff, I’m good. I am proud that I have figured out a great way to do my report card comments, though. I create one large grid for each student for the three marking periods and save it in a folder on my computer. Once my marking period 1 comments are complete, I just review it each term prior to doing my report cards. I typically do my comments first (type A-ness? I don’t know…) and then work on the report card data. It’s been truly a time saver for me, and I feel like a type A-ness spark shined on me when I figured this system out for myself.

With Lyme disease at the pinnacle of my data collection routine right now, I have several systems. One is my Lyme Bible; it has yet to be decorated with a big, green lime photo with smaller tick on the lime (my type A and Z at work here!)–but, it will get done. In it, I have separate pocket files for each doctor that I have seen- my primary doctor, my rheumatologist, my neurologist, my endocrinologist, my naturopath, and my dietician. Each section has my notes from visits, business cards, treatment plans, and a sticky note on the front of each section with each doctor’s phone number and address.   I also have a section for copies of my blood work and personal data that I have and continue to collect. Now, while I have each of these sections, they are not really type A neat! I know some of my type A friends would probably have color photos of each of the doctors as the start of each section- possibly selfies with their doctors, and each section would be further color coordinated and tabbed off with cute pictures or icons announcing each part : bills, blood work, notes, upcoming appointments, etc.   But that’s too much work for me.

So you see, type A and type Z are always at work with me.

I also have a medical/food data grid that I started on my computer and I complete daily. (I admit, sometimes I forget what I had for lunch, or I forget to take my blood sugar at night..but generally speaking, the information is pretty accurate.)  I share this information with any doctor  as needed. Each grid is specific for each day and it lists a pain scale, symptoms, my blood sugar results for both morning and night, supplement names and amounts for that date, food I ate (measured and weighed), how much water I drank (in ounces), and exercise information. If there are any other symptoms or things that seem pertinent, I include that on my chart as well. The digital age has definitely helped as far as tracking goes; my type Z side knows  I’d never do all this if I had to hand write all of this stuff out every day!

While I lament about having to keep all this data, it does help me see what triggers I have and what helps. Today, I took an Epsom salt bath because I read in my Top 10 Lyme Treatments book by Bryan Rosner that can be helpful. My skin got quite red in the tub, and I still feel like a stingray after the bath, but that’s more data for my chart!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

(image from google images)

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