4 weeks has just flown by! Here we are in the final part of this series - Assessment and Monitoring. Remembering back to Week 1, the big question from a reader was: What are the teachers doing? What are the kids doing? How do you monitor and assess?
As I always say, there isn't any one size fits all solution for any school and the conversations that you have as a collaborative staff are key in making these important decisions. Once again, WHY you are assessing and monitoring comes first, followed by what you will do and how you will do it.
When people first start teaching collaboratively, it does feel different than a single cell class. I found it hard to keep track of all the children in my head. Sometimes I would forget who was in my reading groups and who was in my writing groups. Systems, timetables and lists became more important. After teaching 24 kids for EVERYTHING and knowing them really well, of course it's not going to be the same with 75 kids that you teach for SOME THINGS. To start with I worried that I was losing my connections and relationships with the kids and their families. But you know what? I adjusted to a "new normal". So maybe I needed to check a piece of data for a kid because it wasn't right there in my head - when I saw the huge increase in student learning, engagement and progress I could cope with that. I still had great relationships with my kids and their families - just now there was more of them and also another adult in the room who also knew them and who could share their insights with me.
Danger zone - Do be careful not to create unmanageable systems that means you're recording all sorts of information that no-one will ever go back and use! How you do set up your assessment and monitoring systems will also be influenced by the numbers of students and teachers in your team. For example, 2 teachers working together might have more informal systems than 4 teachers working together.
Of course, any country is governed by some formal regulations about assessment/ reporting to parents and in New Zealand we are no different. Whether you agree or not there are some things that just have to be done - so what is the best way to do them? ( This is my favourite blog post ever about reporting - worth a read!)
So here's some ideas featuring systems that I have seen work well in innovative learning environments. I hope there's something here that can work for you or that you can adapt.
Below are some examples of different formats for recording information. Identifying information such as name columns and personal notes have been removed, but hopefully you get the idea!
My name is Ngaire Shepherd-Wills. This website is a record of my TeachNZ sabbatical, Term 2, 2013 and then I have continued to share my wonderings and discoveries about Innovative Learning Practices. I now work for CORE Education. Views are my own.