Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's been an event-packed week.

I started out Monday away from school at a Formative Assessment Team meeting at the EUPISD with 3 representatives from there and 4 other teachers from our region. We met virtually with folks from the State Dept of Ed, talking about this new project being launched to use formative assessment across our region to improve instruction, and ultimately, our students' learning and growth. I was struck by the conversation's turn towards how to help other teachers learn to use formative assessment, how to formatively assess our own actions, rather than focusing on the actual use of this tool in teaching.

Ironically enough, that made more of an impact on me than one of those sessions where you go and get all these cool ideas to use in your classroom, but by the time you have gotten back to work, you have forgotten most of them and put your notes in that huge to-do someday pile, and forget about. I spent the rest of the week second guessing everything I was doing, wondering more where my kids were at in their learning, and thinking, oh wait, this is a great example of formative assessment, and whoa.. I thought they would GET that problem. How to I remedy their misconceptions?

Often in education, we are searching for that quick fix, that WOW moment that will change everything for the better.

Learning to use formative assessment is a process. It is a new way of thinking about the things you already do, and yes, perhaps expanding your repertoire with new skills, but more importantly, thinking about the results of what you do differently. Formative assessment is a constantly changing process, a true process... it means my Monday lesson plans for the week won't be set in stone, that day to day I will have to look at what I have done, and where it has taken me, where on the journey my students are, and re-evaluate the next days' lesson based on that information.

I love the reflective piece of this puzzle. I love the natural formative assessing I already do without having called it that. I am excited to think more intentionally about the learning process and the role I have in creating a successful end point in that journey for my students.

I still struggle with letting go of the control, the organization, the moving along at a pre-determined speed. The overwhelming pressure of meeting the standards is always there, breathing down my neck like a fire-breathing dragon. How to meld the using formative assessment to drive instruction, and still stay on pace to teach all the required material each year will be a challenge.

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