January 2017

Indigo Hits BOCES in Niagara Falls

This past week, Indigo worked within throwing distance of Niagara Falls (the 8th wonder of the world). The Indigo Team hosted 10 districts in Western New York for a shared event to collaborate, share ideas, and talk about ways Indigo could be used in schools.

Lockport High School teachers and counselors going through an Indigo workshop.

Lockport High School teachers and counselors going through an Indigo workshop.

CEO Sheri Smith with a Buffalo Public Schools educator.

CEO Sheri Smith with a Buffalo Public Schools educator.

The event is a big celebration for Indigo – by hosting the event, all 10 districts can now get reimbursed by BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) for any work they do with Indigo.

Now, nearly twenty high schools in the Niagara Falls and Buffalo area can access Indigo’s products and services without finances being a barrier. It’s a huge step toward increasing the equity of our product suite for students in schools that want to partner with us.

Indigo has been working extensively in Western New York the past nine months through Natalie Beilein, our Program Director. She was recently featured in Niagara Gazette for the impact she had on one of the top-ranked junior college basketball teams in the nation.

It’s exciting to see all the buzz and excitement educators are having for Indigo. We saw teachers, counselors, social workers, and administrators from across the region exchanging ideas, sharing contact information, and discussing issues that matter in their schools. 

We are so thankful for BOCES helping make our services more affordable to high schools in Niagara-Orleans County. Can’t wait to bring this type of equity to schools throughout the state in the coming months, and further the work Natalie is doing leading Indigo in her region!

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High School Sun Devils Discover who they are Through Indigo

It may be January, but it’s still warm under the Arizona sun. We went out to meet high school students at ASU Preparatory Academy to unpack the Indigo with the Sun Devils. But we added a new twist: instead of working with the students on one day and the teachers on the other, we sat down for four hours with students and teachers in the same room.

Now, four hours is a long time, no matter how many bagel breaks you toss into the package. You may wondering: is it even possible for teachers and students to stay that long in the same room without going crazy?

Maybe it’s the magic of school, maybe it’s the magic of Indigo, or maybe we had just the right amount of bagel breaks: they were engaged the entire time. And they stayed after to ask questions.

How do you get teachers and students that engaged? The same way you make a first date go well – you let them talk about themselves. It’s as easy as that.

The whole day was designed around unpacking the Indigo Inventory answering questions around who students are, who teachers are, and how they can better work together by knowing each other better.

I could tell you more, but students are better storytellers than I am. Here’s how four students reacted to the Indigo Inventory and going through an Indigo Day with their teachers.

Gonzalo / 9th Grade: 

Dominance is my type of behavior style. I am tough but fair and I view championing as a worthy cause. I strive to improve myself or the situation I am involved with. I have a competitive nature and enjoy working with others. The Indigo Self-Assessment results were pretty accurate in their description of me.”

Isabella / 9th Grade: 

“I discovered that I have an Influencing behavior style. I like to lead and work with people who can hold a conversation. I appreciate constructive criticism but don’t respond well to being talked down to. I know how to negotiate to get what I want. The results were accurate and there were even some characteristics that I hadn’t realized about myself.”

Ethan / 11th Grade: 

“I was surprised at how detailed the Indigo assessment results were. They really described the way I am. I am a “High I” which means I have an influencing behavior style. I am detail oriented, creative, but I also have difficulty managing my time. I do a really good job of verbalizing my feelings, negotiating and giving feedback.”

Kale / 12th Grade: 

“My Indigo results showed that I am high in the area of Steadiness. I am a steady and consistent member of a team and look for a strong leader to support. I have a good mix of procedures and creativity that I can offer a team. I found it interesting to see the careers I was matched with such as photography, forestry and being a laboratory assistant, which I am actually interested in becoming.”

Thank you for letting us come into your school, ASU Prep! We look forward to future opportunities to work together (and more warm winter days in Arizona)!

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What is ‘Non-Academic Data’?

A big part of the work Indigo does is providing schools ‘non-academic data’ that can be used to connect better with students and personalize education. But this begs an obvious question: what the heck is ‘non-academic data’?

It’s a question we get a lot at Indigo, and we understand. The phrase ‘non-academic data’ sounds like it should be in the small print of a nutrition facts next to words like ‘Dietary Fiber’ or ‘Vitamin B2’. It’s not the kind of term that gets thrown around in everyday life.

Here’s how we like to think about it at Indigo. Remember the buzzword ‘Big Data’ that took off a few years ago? What we do is human big data. We look at the behaviors, motivators, skills, and strengths of students, teachers, and administrators to identify trends that are going on in classrooms, schools, and districts.

So there’s academic data like grades, scholarship dollars, and ACT scores; and then there’s everything else. At Indigo, we focus on everything else.

But again, it begs yet another question: what can you do with non-academic data?

The short answer: *a lot*

The long answer: we’re still learning all the ways it intersects with education, and we’re looking to some of our most innovative schools to work with us in discovering them. Here’s just a few ways Indigo is leveraging non-academic data to make a big impact:

1. Classroom Analytics

If you’re a teacher, then you get it: some years, you get that fifth period class that seems to be full of troublemakers. What makes them different than your second period students who are always kind, polite, and write assignments in legible handwriting?

With Indigo data, teachers can see what makes each classroom unique and understand how the students in the room perceive their own behaviors and motivators. It gives teachers the ‘in’ to learn about their students faster and troubleshoot ways to make each class a success.


2. Mentor Pairing

We all love mentor-mentee programs. It’s just cool to see a senior pouring into a freshman’s life. Imagine if you could match students even more intelligently?

By looking at motivators, educators can find students who connect with each other. Instead of just pairing up a senior and a freshman because they are both in the yearbook club, what if you could pair them up because of a shared, mutual desire to find balance and harmony in the world?


3. Grade Correlations

We’ve been doing a lot of exciting work on the university level with this. We all want to know why certain students ace, and others drop out. Student success is an ever-evolving Rubik’s Cube, and there is no copy-and-paste answer that meets all schools and cultures. But what if you could diagnose the symptoms of success in your school?

By lining up Indigo data with grades, we can look for trends in academic success. For example, the students who are getting the most A’s may be the students who are high in Compliance (detail-oriented, logical, cautious), while students who are getting mostly C’s and D’s may be higher in Influencing (talkative, relationship-focused, easily distracted).

From there, helping the high Influencing students succeed is just a matter of reorienting the lesson plans to involve more group discussion and collaboration. Educators using Indigo can make smarter, faster bets on how to improve failing students.


4. Teacher Coaching

We’re always growing and learning as adults. We want to find new ways to succeed using our strengths. Some of our best schools are using Indigo to have positive, teacher-initiated conversations about how Indigo can be used to help teachers continue growing.

Here’s an easy example: one teacher we worked with was 98 out of 100 in Dominance (direct, competitive, blunt). This teacher realized they had a gift at teaching in front of large groups, and that they should seek out more opportunities to get in front of larger groups of students. Even a conversation as simple as that can help orient an educator toward their strengths.

It doesn’t matter how old you are – we all can benefit from honest conversations about ways to use our strengths!


5. College and Career Counseling

You want to push forward your college and career advising game into the next century? Use Indigo data. If you can help students identify what type of environments fit their communication styles (Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, Compliance) and what gets them excited in life (Motivators), you can radically change the effectiveness of your advising center.

Not only can it help students find out faster what they want to do (shortening the amount of time it takes counselors to get students to that “aha!” moment), but it can help students get placed in future paths that they’ll stick with (increasing retention and success at the next step). Our Director of Training and Advising works with dozens of counselors across the United States to help them make the transition into using Indigo’s non-academic data as a cutting edge college and career tool.

So what really is ‘non-academic data’? It’s part of the solution to modernizing education. It’s the foundation of what the Whole Child Initiative will one day lead us into as country. Successful education will always be relationship based, and human big data will help educators reach more students better, faster, with a lasting impact.

To learn more about how Indigo can work with your school to bring human big data to your school, contact us at info@indigoproject.org!


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