Sunday, 3 March 2013

Focus on Assessment

Our school is focusing on developing and improving the assessment strategies we use in our classrooms. We are focusing on Assessment for Learning, Criteria for Success and also Feedback. The more we discuss assessment in our staff meetings and PD Days, the more I think it's way more than just the assessment strategies we use. 

For some teachers, it's a huge shift in the way they interact with students all day, everyday! The more I work with different teachers, the more it makes me realize that although assessment is so important for moving learning forward as well as helping students reach their maximum ability, I think it's more about the way a teacher interacts with students all the time, not just when it comes to 'assessing' them. We should always be assessing them, whenever we open our mouths we need to think about the impacts of what we are saying. 

The following questions are some of what I have been asking myself lately:
  • Greeting children - Do we make an effort to say 'good morning'. Do we set an example for how we would want our students to behave?
  • Asking questions - Do we ask our students questions that empower them to think and answer in a way that makes sense to them?
  • Answering questions - How do we answer questions that are asked by students? Do we always give answers? Do we turned the questions back on the student to make them think more for themselves? Do we bring the question to the class to answer. Do we stop the class to address the question together?
  • Setting up projects - What do we ask our students to do? Something that suits us as teachers? Do we get them to work on projects that help bring control to our environment? Do we look for innovative ways to learn things? Are we introducing our students to new and exciting ways to learn? Are we learning with our students?
  • Sharing Work - Do we share effectively? Do students share with each other? Are they encouraged to talk about their work? Are they given regular opportunities to share with us as teachers, with each other, with the whole class, or with their parents?
  • Opportunities for Feedback - Are students regularly given time to give each other feedback? Do we teach them how to speak to each other in critical, yet positive ways. Are we open to feedback from our students too?
  • Do the students know what and why they are learning? Is the criteria clear? Is it posted? Is it referred to often? Did the students really help write the criteria? Is it written in way that they understand?
To help our students become more successful in learning, I believe we need to really think what we do and how we do it, what we say and how we say it. Our students look up to us as role models and for direction. I think we need to help them find their way in learning so they can also become life-long learners.

Teachers have so much power in the classroom! Because of this power, we can help students succeed or we can cause them to tumble too. I'd prefer to be a part of their success. I'm going to really think about what I say and do in the classroom more often.

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