My Education “C” Word: Formative Assessment & Feedback FOR Learning

“Teaching is not my job, it’s my passion. Getting better at it – that’s my job!”

I like the analogy that assessment is like a GPS system or a Cab Driver. If a GPS system or Cab Driver cannot get us to our destination, then it would not be at grade level, and get a 1 on our CBE indicator system. If it gets us there by the best route taking into account road conditions, traffic patterns, weather conditions, and learns and reflects on how to make it better (I know, that is one good GPS system!), then it would be a 4 or be performing at an excellent achievement level of expectations and quality.

As a student (or GPS), I need to know my direction, where I am going, and what I am trying to do. I need teachers to set out clear criteria of what is expected. I need help in setting goals, need to know where I need to go, and need to rework it if I hit a road block, heavy traffic, or an accident… Or in the case of a student, an issue in understanding, a gap in learning, a lack in certain learning competencies, etc.

And yes, there are different ways to get there…

After you get “there,” you need to go back and do it again the next day… Students (or GPS) need to engage in reflection: In the end, did you get there? Was it the best way? Was it effective? Was it timely?

So my education “C” word is COVER… We are not here to “cover” the Program of Studies, we are not here to “teach” the Program of Studies. We are here to enable students to LEARN through creative approaches and tasks (our curriculum). We are way past the old days of “I taught it, it is not my problem if they did not learn it.” Yes, it is up to us to find better paths…

Students need to take the drive again the next day… Or in this case, students need to act like a sportsperson or an artist, where they are always working on improving their performance. Artists don’t do a painting once, they do a “study” and experiment and play and reflect and THINK. Sportspersons don’t practice a skill once and leave it, they work and learn and change and develop and THINK.

“Who do kids learn more from, the COACH or the JUDGE?”

Damien Cooper, in Redefining Fair: How to Plan, Assess and Grade for Excellence in Mixed-Ability Classroom.

Check out a video called Austin’s Butterfly. This is on a detailed drawing a grade 1 student was creating over the course of 6 iterations with feedback each time. It is brilliant and exemplifies our work!

“If our assessment practices do not demand THINKING on the part of students, they are probably a waste of time…”
Damien Cooper

If the GPS took you in a round about way, you need to think if there was a better way… Don’t let those cabbies take advantage of you! Know where you need to go, and help kids understand and develop where they need to go!


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