Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students

6.4 Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students – teacher’s feedback to students is timely and of consistently high quality. To me, 6.4 will require a teacher’s ability to pinpoint students’ strengths and identify areas for improvement in a positive manner that doesn’t negatively affect their student’s ego. High-quality feedback should reflect a growth mindset rather than an ego mindset where students question their ability or effort, which can be ineffective to their learning. Feedback should push student thinking forward rather than cause an emotional reaction. With a growth mindset in mind, I follow Taylor & Nole

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n (2008) suggestion of using portfolios as a means to provide timely and effective feedback. Portfolios allow teachers to see how much their students have learned over a period of time because the student’s work is only being compared to their former abilities. Figure 1 shows an example of effective teacher feedback dialogue as well as a rationale for giving feedback in both oral and written format for process portfolios. Ms. Stone illustrated encouraging and effective feedback with Tony by directing her towards specific things to think about rather than just editing the report without explanation. The feedback was effective because the teacher held a continuous conversation with Tony throughout her process portfolio which limits any misconceptions on the assignment and gave her timely support on how to write a report. Presenting feedback in a timely manner that allows student reflection and revision is important because otherwise the students will have moved on with either faulty understanding or feel that the teachers don’t value their effort. This evidence illustrates how continuous feedback over a course of a student’s portfolio can result in increased mastery of subject as well as motivation when they see how much they have improved. It’s important to use feedback as a way to engage student’s ideas and help them reflect on their growth throughout the process portfolio. This evidence also taught me that portfolios provide more help to students with disabilities or students who are struggling with English because it allows for more frequent feedback and scaffolding. To increase the effectiveness of process portfolios, I would require students to include peer edit drafts of their work as well as evidence that they listened to their peers’ feedback, which the teacher would then comment on. Process portfolios would then be an excellent addition to parent conference meetings because it illustrates students’ individual growth as well as the teacher’s commitment towards their student’s learning goals.

 

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Learning Environment

  1. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being – this entails being responsible for reporting any suspected child abuse, youth violence, and neglect as soon as possible so the children can be protected from further harm. Students should feel secure and comfortable in their classrooms and to ensure their safety, teachers’ need to keep a watchful eye out for any unusual behavior because as mandated reporters we play a critical role in preventing any future harm to children. Figure 1, Responding to the Child, illustrates the “Do” and “Do Not” tips on how to respond to a child who reports being abused or neglected, which is important to know if you’re trying to foster and manage a safe and inclusive learning environment.
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    This information is important because it gives new teachers practical tips on how to deal with a child reporting abuse or neglect. For instance, the tip on keeping tact and composure present throughout the conversation is essential in helping the child feel secure and calm because the last thing we want is for the child to feel at fault in anyway or form. Reading these tips can prepare teachers on how to effectively speak and act if presented with a child abuse report. My mentor teacher dealt with a child abuse issue which she reported to the school counselor who had an account with CPS who checked in on the student. This incident was also reported to the school principal. This teacher also has experience reporting a neglect issue last year when a child was suspected of being malnourished in regards to a lack of food. With help from the counselor, she was able to talk to the parents to find out that they couldn’t afford food so they helped the family get connected with Food Banks and Pantries. All educators are mandated to report suspected abuse. The protocol and process for reporting suspected child abuse are to inform the school’s principal and counselor because they will be in charge of contacting CPS within a 48-hour time frame. The teacher who reported the suspected abuse will also be required to document the incidence in writing by noting any information that is relevant, such as child’s name, nature of abuse, evidence, and if possible the identity of the perpetrator. Trust in the classroom occurs when teachers create a classroom environment based on inclusion and warmth. Students are more likely to open up to teachers when their classrooms invoke feelings of safety and kindness. Trust is something teachers have to earn so it’s important to create a relationship with your students, a relationship based off of respect and understanding. A comfortable atmosphere will motivate students to be active learners as well as encourage them to voice their opinions in a safe environment. For example, having the class help decorate the room with student posters that reflects their positive attributes will create a sense of belonging in the classroom. Through this comfortable atmosphere students will be able to express their thoughts in a low-anxiety environment through positive teacher-student and student-student interactions.

Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy

4.1 Component 1a: Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy – Expert teachers use a variety of formative assessments along with summative assessments throughout each unit. There’re various formative assessments to consider when trying to facilitate exceptional learning in a secondary ELA class, such as pair and sh

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are, quick-writes, group literature discussions, self-ratings based on rubrics, think aloud, and performance. A summative assessment would be graded heavier so a test, essay, or unit project would suffice. Misconceptions are also addressed through these assessments as well as knowledge being presented in a meaningful and effective manner. I gained a better understanding of Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy through the Understanding by Deign chapter 5 reading and the How People Learn chapter 2 reading. Figure 1, Understanding by Deign, shows a description of how formative assessments are effective for checking for understanding, and according to Bloom’s work its “vital if students are to achieve understanding and avoid misunderstandings”. I learned that it’s important to include a variety of formative assessments throughout the unit because relying solely on a couple of summative assessments as a basis for understanding does not allow teachers ample opportunity to use the assessment data for future planning as well as any changes in instruction. Additionally, I learned that assessments can’t just be varied and engaging but must have merit that ties into core curriculum in order to enhance Students’ enduring knowledge, because teachers should think of students as the innocence of understanding. Therefore, always think with the end in mind when planning lessons and assessments. Figure2, How People Learn, explains the importance of teachers being aware that students come into the classroom with preconceptions already formed, and that any misconceptions need to be addressed before continuing a lesson. I learned that it is important for teachers to provide opportunities for students to build on or challenge these preconceptions because any misconceptions can impact how they retain new concepts. Student learning is enhanced when teachers are able to anticipate students’ misconceptions through having an understanding of their students’ background knowledge in topics such as region, economic status, social, and academic knowledge. For example, a teacher would have to explain American culture and English phrases to struggling ESL learners to avoid any comprehension misconceptions. Teachers often use examples of local things to avoid misconceptions because it’s assumed that the class has a basic knowledge associated with it. Academic knowledge can be anticipated with prior communication with students’ former teachers and pre-assessments. Pre-assessments are a valuable tool to address student understanding, which can take place before a lesson or the start of a unit. This form of assessment draws out students’ preexisting understandings, which allows teachers to adjust their future lessons to address any misunderstandings or expand on students’ preexisting knowledge. A pre-assessment in ELA could be a quiz, writing/performance activity, or class discussion. For example, when introducing a new book it is always good to pre-assess students’ knowledge of the book’s author, setting, and themes. So before beginning any novel, the teacher can give a quick oral quiz based on these three things. Emerging teachers need to have a thorough understanding of pedagogy techniques before entering the classroom because otherwise students’ learning will not be effectively developed or engaging.

 

Separation of Church and State

As a future language arts teacher I find talking about controversial topics to be most educational, because I want to learn how to lead a charged classroom discussion when provocative topics such as religion and sex education arise. To have a charged classroom the teacher has to start a discussion that will create both friction and potential for further learning, but it’s the teachers’ job to guide the students’ discussion towards a democratic education approach. Now in regards to the controversial topic of religion and sex education, I strongly believe in the separation of church and state as well as the right to have freedom of thought, inquiry, and speech under the First Amendment. With this in mind I believe these provocative topics should be discussed in public schools, especially in high school when these topics are relevant.

Now, abstinence-only education goes against our constitutional right to educate children because it “restricts students’ access to information and limit learning to one “approved” message about human sexuality” (Taking Sides, 2005). Furthermore, how can abstinence-only education align with the principle of separation of church and state when the programs are strongly associated with churches, primarily Christianity, that’re pushing their religious values. Why is it that federal and state funds have shifted from supporting comprehensive sexuality programs to abstinence-only programs that limit students’ sexual education? These programs offer curricula developed by religious groups “whose views on sexual orientation, non-marital sex, contraception, and abortion are not shared by other religious and non-religious people” (Taking Sides, 2005). It’s not democratically or culturally fair to promote one religion or creating a “we” of the school, as a community against non-Christians, which is something teachers should be aware of and avoid. Thus, the whole ideal of abstinence-only programs is biased to Christian values. The last thing I want to do is make one of my students feel like an outsider because their cultural beliefs differs from the majority of their peers.

Standardized tests and homework

My teaching values reflect a student-centered disposition which is fundamental towards impacting student learning, because it encourages teachers to go beyond what is required of them to support their students learning needs. Teachers should facilitate student learning and help students learn what is important to them rather than simply teaching them how to effectively pass a standardized test, because the “goal of education should be to create a population of lifelong, self-directed learners” (Dr. Scheuerman) instead of simply future employees. I want to accommodate student’s academic interests, instead of just teaching students to take standardized tests and following a strict curriculum that focuses on the short-term testing gains. Now in regards to the controversial issue over homework, I think it can be a beneficial tool if applied correctly. Homework can be used to further the day’s lesson, but teachers need to be careful of using it as a means to cover the regular curriculum when class time is more focused on standardized testing. The goal is to get away from superficial short-term gains and focus more on how we can effectively teach and motivate our students to “internalize the value of learning” (Dr. Scheuerman), which then leads to enduring and meaningful learning.

I decided to be an English teacher because of my passion of literature and the discussions that arise from interpreting and analyzing a piece of work. Like Lev Vygotsky (1980), I believe learning is most beneficial as a social act, and must not be done in isolation. His research also suggests that students and teachers learn more, are more engaged, and feel like they get more out of their classes when working in a collaborative environment. Thus, I am a passionate believer that learning should be active not passive. My aim is for students to take what they have learned in my classroom and apply it to life by equipping them with problem solving strategies, which hopefully will enhance their lives. Due my active view on learning I can see how homework can seem like a black hole when scaffolding new knowledge, because I cannot see how they’re completing the assignments outside of school. Therefore, I would keep a record of how they’re doing on in-class assignments as well as discussions to make sure the work matches my expectations of them. I would also place more value on in-class assignments and discussions to avoid relying on homework to purely assess student knowledge and to make sure my students are more active in class.

Course Reflection

8. Professional Practice Criteria – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning. To me, Professional Practice Criteria means going beyond the technical requirements of being an educator and contributing to the school community in a constructive and collaborative manner.  Proficient teachers will be able to participate in a professional community, grow and develop professionally, and show professionalism in everything they do.

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I learned about the importance of Professional Practice through reading Hunzicker’s article on the characteristics of exemplary teachers. Figure 1 shows a description of how student-centered mindsets should be a prerequisite for teacher leadership, since having a student-centered disposition motivates teachers to achieve exceptional professional practices. This passage explains how seeing potential students benefits will motivate teachers to accept leadership roles and responsibilities, pursue professional growth, and “value opportunities to collaborate around student-focused goals such as planning instruction and analyzing student work” (Hunzicker, 2013). The passage also revealed how important it is for teachers to focus on teaching effectively before focusing on becoming a teacher leader, because an effective teacher will “recognize obstacles and envision solutions that school leaders may miss” (Hunzicker, 2013). I learned that when a teacher’s disposition reflects a student-centered mindset they will naturally want to improve their professional practice, because they want to better serve their students. Teachers will then be inclined to seek collegial professional relationships with fellow teachers for instructional improvement and collaborate on student-focused goals that help the educational community. Students’ learning is improved when their teachers are enthusiastic about being lifelong learners, because teachers who’re student-centered see the positive impact their professional growth has on their students.  A student-centered disposition is fundamental towards impacting student learning, because it encourages teachers to go beyond what is required of them to support their students learning needs. To effectively display Professional Practice Criteria in a proficient manner a teacher must first reflect on their teaching dispositions and any professional weaknesses that need improvement. As teachers accumulate new experiences they should always be in the practice of reflecting on their dispositions, because dispositions are always evolving and developing over their teaching careers. Emerging teachers can also focus on self-efficacy by setting high personal standards and by pursuing professional goals without prompting, which is a step towards self-leadership (Hunzicker, 2013).

Reference

Hunzicker, J. L. 2013 “Attitude has a lot to do with it: dispositions of emerging teacher leadership” 17:4, 538-561.

 

 

Characteristics of an Effective Educator

To be an effective teacher you must be a player of many roles: the role of learner, the role of collaborator, the role of community, and the role of educator. Within the role of teacher, I will be first and foremost a facilitator of learning for my future students. This means understanding the content that is being taught as well as knowing how to explain it in a manner that students will comprehend. It is the job of the facilitator to enable developments to happen and encourage students to find their own truth and solutions to comprehension tasks. As the role of community, my goal is to create an environment that engages students in all areas of functioning, from the intellectual to the social. As the role of collaborator I bring students together to share their knowledge in order to come to a consensus as well as discuss why their thinking processes differs. As role models I believe teachers need to be enthusiastic about what they’re teaching and positive about their students’ potential for learning, because if I am not motivated to teach then why should the students be motivated to learn. A good educator is a teacher who not only provides a comfortable learning environment for exploring, but also challenges students to express their opinions and knowledge. This goal requires teachers who are dedicated to their students learning process and is willing to be available to them when they need help navigating and understanding the material.  Being a teacher means you have to create a relationship with your students, a relationship based off respect and understanding.