January 27th: Befriending Assessments

Befriending Assessments

Last week’s discussion about Bloom’s revised taxonomy left a good transition for this week’s discussion: assessments. There are two articles assigned for this week’s readings: Chapter 6 of “Our Words, Our Ways” and “Learning to Love Assessment” by Carol Ann Tomlinson. I would like to comment accordingly.

Chapter 6 of “Our Words, Our Ways” was entirely about assessment but it was presented in a more formal way. I like how various types of assessments are provided in this chapter, especially how thorough each of them was discussed. One point that I recognized was the fact that the whole chapter puts emphasis on the effects of numerous assessments to Aboriginal students. I can say that I can relate to most of them, not just on an immigrants’ point of view but just generally on a student’s point of view. In other words, I think that all these assessments can be greatly applied to any students. Nonetheless, I am not naïve that these guidelines were created to specifically understand and/or relate to the experiences of Aboriginal students. With all these in mind, I remembered an experience that I had from last year’s SAFE Conference. It may not be direct but my mind decided to recollect the words front and centered, when Dr. Shauneen Pete talked about offering gifts (sharing cultures). Maybe this is related or maybe it’s just me, but the whole chapter seemed to be offering knowledge on how we, as teachers, can understand Aboriginal students; that the culture may affect these students uniquely from the rest of the class. Maybe this is a front and centered way to approach the offer and from this, we create a different path than what we’ve prepared for them before.

Going back to the assessments, I can highly relate to the handing assignments on time and how this should also be applied throughout university level. If we, as educators, give flexibility and understanding to our students on grade levels up to high school, then the flexibility must be carried over to university. I am grateful that my education classes follow this but other classes barely agree with this rule. I think that the lack of understanding in university level not only adds anxiety, especially to freshmen students, but also discourage them to follow—or even find—their dreams. Overall, it is obvious how much I enjoyed this reading.

In like manner, I would like to comment on the second reading. “Learning to Love Assessment” shares the definition and value of assessment in a little different way than the Chapter 6 of “Our Words, Our Ways”. One of the minimal differences is the way that it was shared: narrative. I mentioned from my first blog in ECS 300 class that I enjoy reading narratives simply because of the fact that I just freshly learned about the significance of curriculum as narratives. I like how the author shares her knowledge personally. However, I don’t like how she keeps using terms and doesn’t directly define them, allowing the readers to assume their definition. On the other hand, I like how she divided her understanding in a way that each of them can stand alone without elaboration. This reading wasn’t as long as the first one but I think they share same value in regards to how much worth of knowledge I earn from it.

I mostly agree with all her ways of assessment but there is one suggestion that I don’t think I’ll be comfortable using: the clipboard. Carol talks about being a real teacher and not a warden but when she talked about carrying a clipboard, I felt like that’s more on the warden side—although I know that she’ll use it for a better purpose this time.  On the other hand, I like how both articles put emphasis on assessment as learning and how we should aim for students’ success—because from the beginning, I always see my teachers (and myself) as guides to individual’s success and not someone who enjoys confusing students to be discouraged to follow their dreams.

From reading these articles, I started reflecting what assessments means to me as a student. Before, I think assessments are always equivalent to exams; that I am and will always be graded with my exams—which is, as a grade conscious person, I can easily excel with this. However, my university experiences changed that mindset. I learned how possible it is to totally understand lessons and be confident in writing exams but ended up not getting to my expectations simply because the questions and answers were tricky. It wasn’t an excuse, because I know to myself that I learned what I’m supposed to learn; it’s just that I can do better with identification, short and long answers than multiple choices and true/false. Likewise, I used to think that assessments must always be at the end of every chapter but now I understand Carol’s view when she mentioned that there’s really nothing much to do if the assessments reflect where the students lack because a new topic was introduced by the time the results are available. This shows the importance of continuous assessment that we have to make throughout the lessons.

After learning the numerous ways of assessment, I have more points to add to my how complex teaching can be box. I shared this before but I’ll share it again. I thought that teachers just teach what’s necessary and you can be a good one if you practice enough skills, learn how to manage your class, and build relationships along the way to help students form their identities and form their dreams along the way. However, teaching was more complex than that. By deciding to be a bridge for my students to follow their dreams, I decided that I have to be stronger that just being the image; that I have to be equipped with proper materials and construction to be a strong bridge. Teaching is not just about creating complicated lesson plans but also being a careful multitasker—who have to be aware of the hidden messages that I send out as well as to be conscious of everyone’s improvement. Nonetheless, all these are part of the challenges I signed up for to help me improve in the process of becoming an educator. I’m anxious about the rest of the knowledge and challenges I’ll encounter throughout the program. Likewise, I’m anxious that seminars start this week and field placement starts next week. I’m not really sure what to expect from it but I’m both excited to see what if offers and nervous since it’s the first time that I get to officially teach a class.

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