I’m having a bit of a moment. A revelatory one.
You see, I’m writing a paper on formative assessment, its impact on students and the implications for teachers. I’m loving it – this type of development focussed assessing is right up my alley and I cannot wait to get stuck in with my own (future) class. It’s all about high quality feedback, specifically addressing misconceptions but also giving more abstract indications to students about the direction they need to go in to really succeed. Formative assessment happens throughout a course of study, not just a test right at the end, you know, when it’s kind of too late to correct students if their wrong.
But this is where a lightbulb went DING DING DING in my brain. Testing and assessing is not a trick we play on students. We’re not supposed to be tripping them up, trying to ask questions that they don’t know the answer to to prove their not smart enough. Tests aren’t supposed to be too difficult for students. We’re supposed to assess students to find out how much they’ve learned. If they’re failing tests it’s because their not learning. That’s our responsibility!
There’s also no inherent value judgement in assessments. Woah Nelly, did I just say that? You don’t have to be embarrassed if you don’t know something! If only I had realised this in school – I could have asked so many more questions! I wish I had known this at Uni the first time around! Think about how much we could learn if we weren’t afraid of looking stupid by asking questions.
As teachers, we want our students to succeed. We want them to learn and build their own knowledge. Doing well in an essay is not the goal here (mind blown AGAIN). The essay is just the vehicle through which we can see what our students have learned. We need to structure our assessments so that our students can do well but more importantly, we need to use the information from our students assessments to really think about how and what we’re teaching them.
I think I need a little lie down now. My poor brain.
Hit me up in the comments if you’ve ever had a moment like this!