December 8, 2022
The snow has been falling here in the Comox Valley this past week. Being in a coastal climate, the flakes are huge, wet, heavy, and beautiful. It is a winter wonderland. And, as we all know, along with the snow comes the decision-making and a new “to do” list: do we shovel or take the chance that rain will soon be here? When do we start to shovel? What about preparation for trees going down and power outages? Flashlights? Candles? Water? What can we still get done from today’s original “to do” list? What do we need to delay?
As I have been shoveling snow, I have been reflecting on the many times in the past few years we have paused everything to do what needed to be done to support children’s learning during the pandemic.
And just like waking up to a fresh layer of snow, educators have woken up day after day to yet one more adjustment needed to support learners and their learning. Educators continue to find ways to keep learning moving forward even with the current challenges. It is in these times when we must make rapid decisions that we most need our “go to” strategies.
When the pandemic began, we were in the middle of the school year and we had agreements in place regarding what counts, what matters, what’s important when we learn together. We had agreements around quality and proficiency at different grade levels. Students were able to self- and peer assess. Students accessed feedback so they could figure out their next learning steps. They collected evidence of their learning and met with teachers to review what they knew, what they needed to learn, and to set goals. In other words, we were using assessment in the service of learning strategies to support the learning of students and adults. Research and classroom practice continue to support the use of the 7 Actions of Assessment for Learning. These high-yield teaching strategies engage students while helping them learn and achieve at high levels.
Now, even during these difficult days, is the time to accept the circumstances in which we find ourselves, make a plan and get on with it.
We are in a time of renewal and reinvention. We can’t go back. We cannot unlearn the lessons of these past years. We can bring forward the strategies that work for all learners and work especially well for our most struggling learners. In these times, it makes sense to focus on strategies and structures described by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam as having the greatest impact on student learning than anything ever studied in educational research. When students (and adults) use Assessment for Learning they:
- Have a clear learning destination
- Use samples to understand quality and development
- Participate in the co-construction of criteria
- Are involved in feedback cycles to feed the learning forward, including self- and peer assessment
- Collect evidence to prove that they have learned
- Set goals for their next steps
- Communicate their learning to others, both formally and informally
We need to continue to reinvent our teaching continuously as we come to better know the learners of today – the 7 Actions of Assessment can show us the way.
What is your plan? Give us a call – let’s discuss how we might help you move forward with professional learning in ways intentionally designed to meet your context.
All our best wishes,
Anne and the Connect2Learning team.