Planning a lesson and designing instruction can be an exciting process. Delivering that lesson and interacting with students as they make your abstract ideas come to life is energizing. Assessment is a different story, often weighed down by myths and misunderstandings.
We know that assessment is critical in order to effectively plan lessons, set meaningful learning goals for students, improve your teaching practice, and make informed decisions for your classroom or district. However, strategically planning student assessment and then digging into the data can be a tedious and time-consuming process — but it doesn’t have to be.
If you take a little time to study the purpose, types, and methods of assessment, you’ll soon know exactly what you want your students to learn and how to design the path to get them there. Start with these ideas:
As another school year comes to a close, I’d bet that you and your students are looking forward to summer break. While these last days of school can be crazy, they’re often reflective as well.
You’ve probably asked students to self-assess their learning, and you’ve probably been busy assessing their learning in final projects, portfolios, and report cards. Of course, all of this assessment of student learning is important — but remember, you were the one who guided them on their learning journey!
As an educator, it’s just as important to take time to ask yourself about your year.
- What went well?
- What will you change next year?
And, while you still have your students in the classroom, why not ask them for a little feedback? Sure, this idea may seem scary at first, but with the right setup, you can truly learn a lot from your students.
I’d be very surprised to find a teacher that has fallen asleep at night thinking, “In what ways can I bore my students tomorrow?” However, school is changing — and with it, so are the roles of teachers and students.
Rows of individual student desks with a teacher in the front of the room are becoming a thing of the past. Collaborative and flexible workspaces with multiple teachers and support educators are the new norm.
The way we consume information has also changed, and teachers are no longer the sole sources of information with a duty to impart knowledge to our students. Students are consuming media and information every day — from the time they wake up until the time they fall asleep. They ask Google a question to be met with an instant response.
How might we adapt our roles as educators to facilitate learning and thinking in an impactful, purposeful way in this new learning environment?
When we think of assessment, we often think about tests. But good assessment is much more than tests — it’s a chance to discover what our students understand so that we can help them learn and grow.
Just like with everything else, assessment looks a little different for young students. Our squirrelliest little ones are not likely to sit down for many formal assessments, so the majority of them may be informal. Most of the time, students’ learning can be assessed without them even realizing it. But getting students engaged in the assessment process can be powerful as well.
Assessment. Accountability. Benchmarks. Pacing.
These words all carry such negative connotations, yet they’re a driving force in the world we must exist in as educators today. As teachers, we must toe the line every day between progressive ideas tugging at our hearts and external standards with accompanying responsibilities.
Is it possible to move beyond this “either-or” paradigm?
Whether you’re teaching or coaching, it’s easy to get into a rut. But these five videos are here to help! Clocking in at just five minutes each, these videos will expand your ideas about what coaching can be and push you to try new strategies.
From the first all staff in-service at the conclusion of summer, to the end of the year checklist session, teachers are inundated with meetings. More specifically, teachers are overloaded with meetings that see them as actors and doers rather than collaborators.
The teacher-centered pre-observation conference shifts this narrative. This approach to the pre-observation meeting is more collaborative and less intimidating and in order to call attention to the nuances of this process, I created two interactive videos for Tch Video Lounge to help you notice how I approach coaching with the teacher taking the lead.
In The Teacher-Centered Pre-Observation Meeting, I model what this may look like with a second-year teacher, Marquis Colquitt. What I hope you glean from our interaction is that the meeting is collaborative, learning-focused, and practice-centered. Additionally, I hope you can clearly observe the principles that guide an effective pre-observation meeting.
I’m a big fan of science notebooks for students. My students use notebooks to develop Cornell Notes from content material, record and analyze lab data, and create “interactive notebook” elements like foldables, flashcards, and puzzles.
I’m NOT a big fan of the lengthy process that ensues when attempting to assess student notebooks. What I find most frustrating is collecting notebooks to see what students are thinking. As a high school teacher with multiple sections of students, trying to carry home hundreds of notebooks isn’t only logistically difficult, it’s time-consuming and inefficient.
One of my favorite parts of being an educator is learning. It may sound strange, but I love learning new things and getting better at what I do. It recharges my batteries.
Every school year, I begin the year excited to apply something new that I’ve learned. I reflect critically about the things that were successful with my last cohort of students, and which areas left room for growth. I intentionally seek learning opportunities that will support my professional growth in the areas that present a challenge. This is how I model growth mindset.
Growth mindset has been the center of my Getting Better Together project with Teaching Channel. Over the past year, I wrote about my journey related to instilling a growth mindset in my students. This video playlist is a window into our work.
The climate, or culture, of a school is one of the most important factors in its success. In fact, you can almost feel the climate of a school within seconds of ringing the buzzer for entry. A culture of collaboration and excellence provides the climate for consistent success for students and increased job satisfaction for teachers. Working towards creating this generative environment is a worthy, yet difficult goal.
Whenever you invite humans into the process of any complex work, there’s the inevitability of error, miscalculation, or failure. What’s also possible in this space, and I think what makes this process so messy and beautiful, is the potential for teachers to change, grow, and create transformative teaching experiences.