Data in Schools: Connecting Educators through the Power of Data

A data conference for schools, really?

We created a data conference for people working in international schools. Seriously. For some, that might sound like as much fun as writing entirely narrative report cards for 180 students while being on recess and lunch duty. Considering we were overbooked within two weeks of announcing the get-together, it seems there are plenty of educators out there wanting to connect and use data to make schools a better place.

We are all impacted by the use of data in our roles as teachers, directors, coaches, and heads of schools. We brought these people together to have common discussions around the technological aspects of how to build data pipelines and create data dashboards. We also dove deep into theoretical conversations around what data to collect and how to use it to inform decisions and better know our students.

map of attendees at the data in schools conference

Calling it a conference might not be entirely accurate. I mean, we labeled it as a conference and we gathered together to learn about a common topic. It was more than a conference, though. It ended up being kind of like a family reunion with cousins and relatives that you only met a long time ago or talked to on the phone. It was an opportunity to nurture and build relationships around the common topic of data in schools.

New networks were created, and old networks were brought back together. A good sense of community and friendship developed. Our limited 50 seats were intentional. We wanted to purposefully generate an environment where participants could connect with lots of different colleagues. We didn’t want anyone getting that awkward “I’m at a conference and I’m sitting alone at the kiddy table” feeling.

So, who actually showed up?

We ended up with 65 educators from as far west as Amsterdam to as far east as Melbourne joining us at Singapore American School for the 1 ½ day meetup.  (Wait, I thought you said only 50 seats? Yep, we were over capacity. We tried to squeeze in as many interested educators as possible.) All in all, 16 countries and 30 different organizations gathered making it a truly global experience.

list of schools and organizations represented at the data in schools conference

Keynote speaker Deputy Superintendent Jennifer Sparrow delivered an inspirational address, grounding the conference in the “why” behind data-driven education. Her words resonated with everyone, reminding us of the importance of breaking down silos and forming connections to facilitate learning from one another.

Sharing ideas and thoughts was a huge part of the conference. We did this through the creation of short, school showcase sessions, panel discussions, job-alikes, unconference breakout sessions, and social events.

The deep dive came with the case study part of the conference. This was broken up over two days. Participants chose a stakeholder lens as a focus when looking at a common case study. What made the case study valuable was that it was a real situation at a real school using real data. The activities and timing of the agenda allowed for both focused conversations as well as collaborative, open-ended dialogue.

Was it any good?

The general vibe of the conference was very positive and full of energy. Many participants commented on how nice it was to connect with like-minded educators. Most people in this area of education tend to be the only ones in their school or often work in a very small group, separated from other decision-making areas in the school.

feedback from particpants

Some highlights of learning were:

  • Good resources
  • Good contacts and connections with people in the same field
  • Understanding dashboards and their uses for them
  • We are not alone! Others are in the same boat.
  • A deeper understanding of data workflow
  • How to tell a story with data

Would you be a good fit for the next conference?

Do you work in a school? If you answered ‘yes’, then you should attend. Do you work for an organization related to international schools or education? You should consider coming along to the next conference.

We will be making our way to Europe in the fall. The International School of Amsterdam has graciously agreed to host the next Data in Schools conference on October 12th and 13th, 2023. You can find out more information about the conference on our website,

You can also find out more information about logistics on ISA’s professional development website. There is no cost to attend the conference. We are collecting a modest 50 Euro “save my seat” fee.  This will go towards evening social events. AppsEvents will also be joining and sponsoring the event. If you are a Google for Education school, you should definitely check out what they have to offer.

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