Four questions to ask yourself as an educator…

In Redefining Fair: How to Plan, Assess, and Grade for Excellence in Mixed-Ability Classrooms (P. 10), Damian Cooper discusses metaphors around teaching. He identifies a number of questions that help us understand our own approach to essential elements of our practice. (I added words inside brackets.)

  1. With respect to curriculum, am I merely the conduit or am I an architect (or designer of learning)?
  2. With respect to instruction, am I the controller (of the content) or the facilitator (of learning)?
  3. With respect to assessment, am I a coach or an accountant?
  4. With respect to grading, am I a calculator or a professional adjudicator (working to improve learning)?

The more I think about these questions, the more intrigued I am about utilizing them to push both my own practice and the practices of educators in general. I have already begun reflecting on how I work both as an educator and as a principal whether I am working with students or parents or staff…

The Education field has been doing a lot of work around what excellent assessment practices look like. The question about being either at coach or an accountant rings extremely true to me, and shows how my own thinking has changed over the last 20 years.

Assessment used to be marks in a mark book, test scores, and essentially a percentage at the end. I thought looking at assessment was a major waste of time and did not have a clue how this could enhance the learning of students. It was pure bureaucracy at work and did nothing to help my students…

In that way, it was not helpful. Since then I have learned so much more about formative assessment and assessment for learning. I’d do not know why, but I never put together the idea of coach with formative assessment. Think back to the best coach you ever had… How did they make you better? How did they help you improve? It was no lunch that I got a grade at the end of the season of playing hockey. It was all about becoming better…

We will play with these questions more as we enter 2014 and use them to reflect upon and guide our own practices. There are major connections to the Ministerial Order on Student Learning as well as our work around the Teacher Effectiveness Framework and Rubric (TEFR).

As we are working on improving and enhancing our reporting processes, please keep in mind that question… With respect to assessment, am I an accountant or a coach for our students learning?

Work hard, learn tons!


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