Reflecting on my first face to face session with #cohort21 I remember feeling a little uncomfortable at first. I didn’t know anyone that was going to be attending and ice breakers always make me a little nervous. The day hadn’t even started and I met a teacher who had done her practicum working with one of my colleagues. It felt the whole day that I was bumping into people I had done my undergrad with, or had connections with someone I had worked with in the past. It made me realize that although there are many teachers, the community is small and we are all connected and made me feel a little more at ease. By the end of the day I felt very comfortable and supported and inspired by the incredible energy in the room. I have to say though, the day does take a lot out of you.
Power of Three
From the interviews that I conducted, I found that the most urgent needs of my students were:
1. Test Anxiety – inability to perform on the spot
2. Growth Mindset – getting caught in negative thought patterns about their ability in a subject
3. Utilization of feedback – wanting very specific feedback and not trusting their own self-assessment or feedback from peers.
This validated the urgencies that I had selected during our first face to face. Since the beginning of the year I have been trying to experiment with new forms of assessment and ways to provide feedback that will allow the students to more regularly assess their progress, develop a growth mindset and relieve the test anxiety that I see plague such a large number of students. I started the year with providing my students the following cover sheet for the unit.
I wanted the students to take the time after each class to reflect on their progress and check either green(proficient), yellow(not yet proficient, but will be with some practice), red (not yet proficient, I need help). They would be able to assess this based on tasks completed in class and the feedback that was provided through conversation, google forms, a three point rubric, etc. The goal was to be able to move away from teacher-only generated feedback and eventually have the students be able to self assess based on the success criteria provided. I thought this would be great for test revision so they could prioritize topics to focus on and seek help earlier in the unit instead of letting things pile up.
I found myself pouring hours and hours into providing feedback to my students on a regular basis. However, through some of my google forms and interviews – it came to me that students are not utilizing this feedback in the most meaningful ways to ensure they are improving their understandings AND skills. Most students are looking at the feedback, utilizing it in that one particular instance, and not applying it to subsequent tasks. I also found that if students would check themselves in the red they would attribute that to something like “well I am just not good at math, so I won’t ever be good at this type of thing”, rather than an opportunity to seek help or improve.
I want to focus more on the types of feedback that I provide (process over performance) to ensure that students realize that this feedback can be applied long term and across many areas of their life. It also be helpful to have a more guided reflection of the feedback for the upcoming months to familiarize themselves with the way in which they should be internalizing the feedback. It is important to also have them move to the phase where they can monitor themselves based on this feedback and set their own goals in their learning.
Looking forward to discussing all of this with the amazing people at cohort21 and developing concrete tools for doing this kind of work!