Tag Archives: Feedback

Appraisal and Our Body of Work

2 Aug

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How might a teacher’s performance be appraised? How can the whole, as well as the parts be considered? Of what use is the performance of teaching for observations by management, versus relaxed one-on-one discussions with students or an experimental lesson tried for the first time? And of what use are the ‘individual works’ such as unit plans, student work examples, lesson data and external test results? Data can provide a tangible, depersonalized third point for professional conversations, just as a particular work of art can be representative of an artist’s work. An exhibition from a particular period of an artist’s work can give a broader picture of their work during that time. A posthumous exhibition of their life’s work can provide the broad narrative of how their work has evolved. These are all different but meaningful lenses for appreciation and critique; each is a useful way of viewing the work and worth of the artist or teacher.

On the one hand, teaching does become a body of work over time. A life’s work for some. This gestalt includes ever-expanding subject knowledge, evolving pedagogies, relational skills and behaviour management tools. Many of the things teachers do become internalised, less-deliberate moves, part of a way of being. Perhaps a teacher should not be judged by a lesson that they teach or one set of student results, but there is value in each piece of work being reflected upon and closely considered for the understandings it might surface about that teacher’s practice; the details it might reveal; or the points of celebration, critique or change it might incite.

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Friday Thought: Be Reflective

2 Jun

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I was told this week Andrew you must reflect more on your practice. It was a timely reminder. I have heard a few times recently when discussing the importance or reflection as part of the school improvement process. When digging deeper into what is meant by this, I have found that in some cases there is a lack of understanding as to what it really means to be a reflective teacher. Too often, when we think about being a reflective practitioner, the reflection process is limited to evaluation; what went well and what did not. In some instances, reflection may include what might I do differently next time. A peer tells me often it is about process.

Being reflective is much more than that. Reflection must involve action. True reflection in education cannot happen without the the thoughts of what might be done differently next time actually translating into planning for action and taking action. There is no point saying that all teachers are reflective if there are lots of thoughts but no action. How does that really improve student learning?

Collaboration is an important part of being a reflective teacher. Reflecting on your own can have its limitations in terms of having other people to bounce ideas of, having other people to challenge each others viewpoints, having other people to give us the necessary feedback to critically reflect and, most importantly, other people to share our journey with. I recognize my own PLN here.

A Reflection: June 1

31 May

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If you have not spent time seriously exploring pedagogy, then you are going to fall into the trap of teaching the same way, just on a bigger scale.

Truly interrogating what you currently do requires some serious consideration of what is currently seen and accepted as best practice. Why is it best practice? Who decided? Is it best practice for all groups of learners? Is the numeracy project really meeting your identified student needs? Who says it is best practice? How well does it marry our curriculum? How well does it marry with BES? Is it moving your kids? Is there stages that they just roadblock at and need something different? Same for writing and reading? Where are the authentic links? Are they authentic for the actual kids in front of you? Or are they authentic in an adult’s head and world?

Growth Mind-Set in My Class

3 Apr

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I have been thinking and reading about this this year in my class. There has been a great deal developed regarding this in our mentoring system in school. The following is a summary.

Consistent classroom discussion and modelling from mistakes.

This has concerned me for sometime. Students fear failure. They also fail to try because they make mistakes. I began this semester with a discussion about what growth mindset meant, and how we (our classroom) could use it. Each week, we talked about how “mistakes are when learning happens.” I want students that are hitting The Wall to know that failing isn’t the end and the not understanding a concept is merely the first step on the road to getting it. Creating a growth mind-set, involved lots of frank discussion about learning from mistakes.

Set-aside class time to review mistakes on assessments. 

After our discussion, I returned their first assessment of the semester and told themn(my students)  that they would have the next fifteen minutes dedicated to reviewing mistakes. I posted common errors that I saw on screen and wandered the room giving advice and help. We do this each week now and it gives students a dedicated time for reflection, a chance to access my help, and a non-stigmatized time to review errors. This is key, students will not naturally do this on their own, and I still need to prod some of mine.

Student visualization and ownership of growth.

As students wrapped up their self-assessments, I passed out a log that I had created for them to track their achievement on each of our classroom standards. They get three chances in class, and can then re-assess outside of class. Therefore, I gave them space to see how they were doing. I realized that students were not keeping track of how they were doing over time; I wanted them to see how much they had improved and have quick access to know that they needed to work on. I used to keep track of this, but found that when students have ownership of their scores, they are more apt to do something about the low ones.

Review and Reflection

26 Feb

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ERO asked us in 2016 how do we know students are learning and how do we know acceleration is taking place?

As we enter 2017, we continue to ask this important question. While standardized tests provide data on student understanding, the data comes at the end of the year. Teachers need actionable data and strategies for supporting all students during the school year. How will your school staff measure if students are learning?

The idea of using leading and lagging indicators to measure the health of an organization was introduced by Robert Kaplan and David Norton (1993). The premise behind their theory is that lagging indicators will tell you nothing about how the outcomes were achieved, in the absence of leading indicators. Leading indicators provide early warnings about being on track to achieve your strategic goals. Lagging indicators measure what has already taken place. In the absence of clear indicators, teachers and administrators will be unable to measure student learning in a timely manner.

The danger in focusing on outcome measures is that most teachers feel powerless to impact change. Indicators should be “actionable at the school level, meaning that school leaders, teachers, and staff can use them to make changes that will have a demonstrable impact on student outcomes” (Pinkus, 2009, p. 5). As you establish New Year’s resolutions and professional goals, ask the following questions. When teacher teams have clear indicators, it will support all students.

 10 Ways To Measure Student Understanding

  1. Does our team/course have SMART goals? (DuFour, 2014)
  2. Do you administer common formative assessments?
  3. Does each teacher understand the Priority Learners Document?”
  4. Do you have a plan for when students don’t learn?
  5. Do you have a plan for students who need acceleration?
  6. Have you identified data points that we will measure throughout the semester?
  7. Do we have rubrics and exemplar work so teachers, students and families can identify opportunities for growth?
  8. Do you have a clear Response to Intervention (RtI) program or is RtI left to each teacher?
  9. Do you have scheduled meetings when data is discussed or do we hope the conversation will take place during passing period?
  10. Have you considered our Maori student achievement and acceleration in our work?

 

 

Teaching in a Multi-level classroom

24 Feb

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Teaching multi-level classes is an issue which is becoming more common in our ever-changing environment. Differentiating instruction may mean teaching the same material to all students using a variety of instructional strategies, or it may require the teacher to deliver lessons at varying levels of difficulty based on the ability of each student. Formative assessment is an essential ingredient of this method.

Teachers who practice differentiation in the classroom may:

  • Design lessons based on students’ learning styles.
  • Group students by shared interest, topic or ability for assignments.
  • Assess students’ learning using formative assessment.
  • Manage the classroom to create a safe and supportive environment.
  • Continually assess and adjust lesson content to meet students’ needs

Do you have any tips or strategies that have worked for you?

Observation in the Classroom

10 Jun

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To me the key component to effective teacher observation is that it be student-focused. The emphasis needs to be on how things can be done differently in the classroom to ensure that students succeed academically. It must also be authentic. Conversations need to take place before and after the visit.

I think my teaching environment is a setting where a teachers-observing-teachers strategy thrives. A culture exists where people report with pride that they push’ one another professionally. I notice all teachers’ value collegial relationships as a means to professional development. This has been a journey and because of this that is why it is so successful.

Research tells me that the whole school community benefit from this being a success. What tools are you using in your environment?

OPEN UP

14 Sep

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I have had a week of meetings and I tell you what it can be rather draining even for an extrovert like me. I have observed and learnt a great deal. Human behaviour is interesting and sometimes I wish I had We all have the tendency, when we think we’re under attack, to circle the wagons and protect ourselves. You can literally read someone’s body language.  When this is happening — they fold their arms, furrow their brows — and you can almost see the steam coming out of their ears. But if you want to build a feedback loop in your business, you, especially as a leader, need to lead by example and open yourself up to hear what people are saying. If someone in another department is convinced you’re not listening to them, what makes you think they’ll listen to anything you have to say to them? Yes, opening yourself up makes you vulnerable. But that’s also why we preach the idea that “you aren’t your code,” which is another way of saying that we all need to be able to process constructive criticism without taking it personally. If you can do that, you can create the kind of open and honest culture that is capable of tackling the thorniest of issues together. And you’ll be amazed that listening changes perspectives.  to someone’s feedback, and take action on it, you’ll increase that person’s engagement level in his or her work.

Planning My Lessons

9 Mar

Planning the level of challenge of your lessons can be a difficult task.  It is important that knowing your group and where they are will help this.  My pieces about the famous learning plan have illustrated this. What you plan to do needs to be related to prior learning – which is why formative and summative assessment, and what you do with it, is so important.  For a while I thought I’d planned challenging lessons for all.  But that was the problem.  I rarely differentiated on an individual level and predominantly set the same task for all.  Challenge should apply to the learning, not merely the task.  And the learning needs to challenge all students.  Now this is a real skill and one that I have been honing for a while. I often organise prior learning collaboratively which my students love.

“Planning can be done in many ways, but the most powerful is when teachers work together to develop plans, develop common understandings of what is worth teaching, collaborate on understanding their beliefs of challenge and progress, and work together to evaluate the impact of their planning on student outcomes.”

Hattie 2012

Using colleagues to bounce ideas off of can be an excellent way of designing lessons.  There have been numerous times when I actively seek out colleagues and run ideas past them.  I know many departments set time aside to collaboratively plan larger schemes of work, but having a critical buddy to work with on individual lessons can be a great resource.

I will pay particular attention to the level of it in my lessons.  It’s important that I pitch it right.  Too easy and there is no reward.  Feedback has less effect and becomes low value.  Too hard and it can provide a feeling that achieving this goal is unobtainable. The only way I will know if the levels are correct is if I go back and check prior attainment and know my group before planning my lesson.

So why pay more attention to challenge this year more than before?  Well because of the various factors that it links to.  Memory and feedback being two in particular.  If we are to get the glutamate and dopamine present whilst learning and thus commit what we are learning to memory, we need to ensure that what work we set is challenging (so there is potential for a reward – achieving the goal) and actually achievable (to release the reward – chemicals).  If work is too easy and not challenging, these chemicals aren’t released as highly and won’t be committed to the long term memory (the aim of learning).

What Effective Feedback Is and Isn’t

11 Aug

 

As I prepare students for their next assignment I have stirred considerable interest in feedback and feed forward in conversations with students and staff.

Effective feedback is an enormous topic – and a crucial one for us to understand due to its powerful effect on student achievement.  Few aspects of teaching and learning have more potential to raise achievement.

To be effective, feedback must be goal-referenced, understandable, and immediately actionable.  Feedback should not be advice, evaluation, or value judgements.

Marge Scherer, editor of ASCD’s Educational Leadership, says that the best feedback “describes what the student has done and helps the student decide what to do next.” – notice she used the verb “describes” and not “evaluates”.

John Hattie and Helen Temperley, in their 2007 Article for Educational Review “Assessment: Feedback to Promote Student Learning”, gave us the three essential questions:
1. Where am I going? (What is the goal?)
2. How am I going? (What progress is being made towards the goal?)
3. Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?)

Hattie and Temperley called these: feed-up, feed-back, and feed-forward.

Grant Wiggins does a great job of further describing what effective feedback is and isn’t in his article: 7 Keys to Effective Feedback.

For Effective Teacher-to-Learner Feedback:

The key to effective feedback actually comes BEFORE the students begin their work.  Effective feedback requires well designed learning goals and success criteria against which students’ progress can be compared to formulate good feedback.  The timing of the completion of the work must be planned so the feedback can be given DURING the learning process, not after it.  Feedback loses a great deal of its impact if it is accompanied by a mark or grade.

To maximise the effectiveness of the feedback, teachers must:

Set clear, concrete, specific learning goals and must demonstrate what success will look like:
Do the students know what success looks like? Are the criteria clear enough for students to measure their work against it to identify gaps?

If you have the time and want to dive into some indepth study of Learning Goals, the Ontario Ministry of Education has put together a  short-course: Learning Goals & Success Criteria (6 videos of approx 8mins and a 57 page self-study guide).

Thanks to my PLN for providing me with this information this week.

Reponse

Thanks for the questions and feedback on online learning.

I hope this is useful. In my teaching environment we commonly use the discovery approach to learning. Students have little trouble with the discovery approach to learning (Constructivist), so long as it is purposeful, engaging and directed at using the processes of cognition that improve learning. The experience of this pedagogy is that it encourages teachers to deliver lessons that are accessible to the Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic learner. The research of Kolb and Fry and also of Peter Jarvis, serves to remind us that in designing Online Courses, it is necessary to cater for the wide range of learning styles that exist (Smith 2001). Online Learning, should allow students to experience the Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic aspects of learning. This suggests that the online delivery of courses should draw on rich-mixed forms of media, to ensure maximum engagement with the students. Please contact me for references noted here.

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