What Do We Do WHEN We Make Mistakes? Assessment FOR/AS Learning

I know this is shocking, but I make mistakes… LOTS of them… and every once in a while, one of them is a doozy…

I always used to joke with my students that “Teachers never make mistakes!” Of course, this was always after I had made a mistake… I had to take ownership, and show students a mistake is not the end of the world.

Are we “allowed” to make mistakes? That question does not matter, as I make them anyway, whether you allow me to or not. If I am not making mistakes, then I am probably not pushing myself. And friend, I make lots…

I love that we are in a place now that I do not feel that I have to be perfect as a principal and educator, but that I am a human being and will make mistakes. I do not have to put on a show that I know everything and have it all figured out. I make mistakes, but I also try my best to learn from them… and develop… and change… and grow.

How do we, as leaders of education and students, make sure that students feel the same way?

  1. Create a Culture of Risk-Taking… It is okay to try something and fail! It is also okay to try again and again!
  2. Create a Culture of Coaching and Feedback… Do we learn more from a coach (educator) or from a judge (test)? Students need student specific feedback that helps them to improve and to see that improvement.
  3. Create a Culture of Learning (rather than memorizing)… Is the work about LEARNING or is the work about a TEST? Are we better than we were before undertaking the work?
  4. Create a Culture of Purposeful Engagement… I love my work because it is always purposeful, in that I am trying to improve my work, our students, our classrooms, our staff, and our school. I am engaged in my work. Students must feel the same…
  5. Create a Culture of Reflective Thinking… Students need to learn how to be able to set goals around, develop criteria for success, conference and discuss with others, reflect on, and think about their learning. When I was in school, I never needed to reflect, it was only about the score on my test at the end. It was not about learning, it was about memorizing for the test.
  6. Create a Culture of Ongoing Assessment FOR/AS Learning… Assessment FOR/AS learning must be a process that is in everything we do in school. It is in PE, Art, Reading, Writing, citizenship, etc. It is not something we do just before report cards or at the end of a unit…
  7. Create a Culture of Do-Overs… Why not? If I gave up on everything that did not work the first time, I would have learned very little. It was by trying something over and over again as an educator that allowed me to grow. Why not for students? I know the big answer is “time,” but we must ask if we are “Covering” the Program of Studies or “Learning” with the Program of Studies?
  8. Create a Culture of Progress… We will never make education perfect, as it is a human endeavor, although I know we will all keep trying… Education and our understanding has grown immensely since I was a student and even more so in the last couple of decades since I became an educator!

Now, I would look at report cards as being a reflection of their learning, not an average of their work over the year. Where are they right now? What have they learned? Where have they grown and what do they need to work on? There really should be no surprises for parents or students when report cards come home.

We are in an exciting time in education! Will we make mistakes? Yes. Will we learn from them? I hope so. Can we help students to learn this as well? We must…


7 Responses to What Do We Do WHEN We Make Mistakes? Assessment FOR/AS Learning

  1. Bent says:

    The grade 5 team discussed student learning needs of our students and how we can better meet them. We looked over some of their IPPs.
    We also prepared for our upcoming field trips to the Glenbow and to Weaselhead.
    We also developed a positive reward system for the class as we have had emerging behaviour concerns.

  2. The Grade 4 Teamsters says:

    The grade 4 team discussed having the students share what they learned from the S4 presentation with Cst. Ross. We strategically divided the groups to help support the student be successful in this endeavor. The groups will meet on Friday and teach each other what they learned. We effectively used google calendar to book the learning commons for this sharing time.
    We also talked about having the whole group meet once a week to do a team building activity in order to have the transition into a full class for next year be as smooth as possible. We shared different ideas about how to build this community. We briefly met with the grade 5 team and invited them to observe the community activities.

    • The Grade 4 Teamsters says:

      First Keeler Cougar to read this blog and give a suggestion for a group community building activity by emailing Kathy Sushko – WINS! The lucky person will receive a super terrific surprise in appreciation for their suggestions.

      • Bryden says:

        Set up a cooperative obstacle course in the gym over the lunch hour since you are first in. Make the obstacles impossible to do alone (students *have* to help each other) All students have to cooperate to succeed. Success means every student has to complete the course! There will need to be a motivating reward….. 😉

  3. The Grade 6 Team says:

    The Grade 6 team dove into some formative assessment, meeting together to read the story beginnings that have been written so far by the students. We compared the stories and looked at common problems that were popping up during the writing process in order to develop a more targeted intervention with the struggling writers. We also brainstormed to come up with an art project that can be published in a book with our completed stories.

  4. Grade Two Team says:

    This week the grade two team examined the program of studies and made connections between literacy, science and social studies to assist in creating a cross curricular unit for the study of The Acadians. We want to focus on story writing and building social vocabulary and this will be connected to our unit on the Acadians. We also want student to make bigger connections between the communities they have studied this year and the overarching question, what is community? We are hoping students can create a cumulative project that compares the communities that they have studied including, Alberta, Calgary, Nunavut and the east coast Acadian community. Students have been working on pirate writing project and we were able to compare and examine their work. We are using their finished products as an avenue to build on. Students will have the opportunity to create their own story and share it with peers. We also examined the two final trips we have planned for this year and we’re brainstorming together connections and activities students could complete to prepare themselves for the trips. We are going to focus on insects, small flying and crawling insects and students will look at books, the web and work in the learning commons to build their knowledge prior to going on our trips.

  5. Jessica Oyelusi says:

    The grade one and PLP team discussed the progress of our community building project. The children in all of the classes are busy completing their houses and will soon begin building a service for the community. We also discussed activities around growing vegetables and the arrival of the butterflies. We are also planning a field trip to Heritage Park and looking for one other addition field trip.

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