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April 11, 2015
This Week: New Videos, Giving Feedback and Assessment
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In these new videos, watch teachers who’ve selected exemplar lessons from Achieve.org’s website and tailored them to fit the needs of their own classrooms.
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Nicole Gavin teaches her students to inquire about key details in informational texts by asking questions and taking notice of textual features.
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If you follow the simple A-B-Cs of giving feedback, you can be sure the conversation will be meaningful for your colleague and yourself.
Sarah's Notes

Every once in awhile I find myself in the middle of one of those gut-check conversations — the kind where you lose your words. You feel heavy with realization, sometimes even with disillusionment. And to make it even more poignant, the conversation takes you by surprise. Just days ago, I found myself fielding a friendly inquiry that quickly became an onion of profundity about assessment. Forty minutes into peeling back layers, I’m asking myself: can you stand for students and large-scale assessments at the same time? I think this is where a lot of us fall. They’re supposed to give us valuable feedback, but they take up so much time. They’re supposed to inform instruction, but too often, they sort and rank. These are the moments when I don’t feel like a teacher; rather, I feel like the mother who doesn’t want to tell her son that today’s doctor’s appointment is going to end with a shot.

Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not a blanket indictment of all things assessment. But I do know what it feels like to be a teacher during assessment season. I have listened to principals who dread telling teachers about that “one more test.” I have looked at teachers’ tearful eyes as they talk about the pressure on their kids. I will tell you what I tell them: Please remember, that nothing, replaces you. Nothing matters more than the way you’ve read that child’s learning story, the way you’re telling it back to her. Remember, it’s the questions you ask, the struggles you anticipate, the autonomy you celebrate that he will take with him. That may feel flimsy in the face of implication, but it’s not. It’s our core; it’s who we are. This season and every season, you’re never just a teacher, you’re the person with the potential to liberate a mind.

For anyone who's feeling in need of a pick-me-up this week, watch Taylor Mali perform his inspirational (and humorous) poem Miracle Workers.


Sarah Sarah Sig
Teacher Laureate at Teaching Channel
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