Focal Student Strategy

Focal students give teachers a critical window into the factors beyond academics that influence learning. Factors such as what motivates a student, the student's belief in himself, or his perception of whether his teacher believes in him all impact learning.  More...

The process of "researching" focal students enables a teacher to build relationships with students who might otherwise have slipped through the cracks.

  • Focal students reinforce an orientation toward results. By setting specific goals for students and measuring progress toward these goals on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, teachers gather concrete evidence about the effectiveness of their teaching and how to make adjustments to better serve their students.


  • Focal students keep the focus on student learning and motivation. Focal students help teachers make the subtle, but critical shift from, "How well did I/we teach it?" to "How well did they learn it?" With focal students in mind, teaching is not just executing a well-designed lesson, but it's checking to ensure that the students achieved the objectives of that lesson.


  • By focusing on focal students, teachers become more effective for all students. When teachers discuss focal student learning with their colleagues, the conversation becomes practical, anchored in data and specific. All of these elements make for a more productive learning session and increase the likelihood that teachers can apply what they've learned from a peer to their own classrooms.