The last few weeks I have had some fascinating conversations with my colleagues. I work with some really passionate and thoughtful educators and I’ve been musing about their ideas.
I work very closely with the special education department and one of the spec ed teachers made a comment over a month ago that still has me thinking. Here in WRDSB, we are really focusing on assessment and evaluation and this has caused much reflection and consideration of our current practices. In chatting with her, she suggested that with diagnostic-formative-summative in conjunction with the triangulation of data, that we should start considering the idea that formative pieces can be considered summative if they meet the success criteria and demonstrate the skills effectively. I hadn’t considered that angle and I’ve been reflecting. It makes sense to me especially in English as we are a skills based curriculum. I think where it can create some potential issues is that we still run an assessment model that focuses on the product or summative piece. In my opinion, we are still too concerned with the outcome of the task rather than focusing on and encouraging the learning that happens in the creation of a project. I also think this has the potential to be a hard sell to some colleagues as well as students and parents, but I think it is an important idea to consider especially since we are supposed to be considering observations and conversations when assessing student work.
At the end of the day today, I was chatting with one of our art teachers and he made a comment that also has me pondering. He suggested that English classes have the potential to be run more like art classes as both are skills based. He went on to discuss how many of his students are more concerned with the process of creating their art than with the grade they receive at the end. They focus on the expression and meaning they are attempting to exude and take pleasure in the learning. I love that the focus is on the process and journey as that is where the most important learning occurs in my opinion. I hope that I can learn more about how the art department approaches these ideas and bring them into my classroom as I’ve gotten push back about this style of thinking in a core subject area.
These are just two of many conversations I’ve been a part of lately and I love that I work in a building where these strong pedagogical conversations are taking place. It demonstrates to me, yet again, that I have found a place that supports and extends my thinking on best practices, and above all else, learning.