Teachers are entering a brave new world.
Assessment should begin looking very different to when we lived in a ‘level’s’ world. Formative assessment should interweave every lesson, where the ‘feedback’ from pupils helps teachers to deliver focused and specific lessons based on the ‘needs’ of their children. Learning should be at the centre of every lesson.
The previous statement should be a given, but when you think back to the way we were teaching (or the generic structure that shape many lessons), lessons have become so formulaic and confined, where we have been teaching to the curriculum, to the units that came next…not to our pupil’s needs. Lately we have been discussing this as a staff, thinking about how our new assessment system gives us the freedom to ‘back-track’ to ensure that every child has secured key skills. Why are there still so many children who make it to the end of primary school, but have major gaps in their learning? Have we all been too concerned with working ‘through’ the curriculum rather than focusing on securing the ‘learning’?
It is a difficult transition to be given such freedom to change the shape of the lesson, to focus on the ‘learning’ that is necessary for the pupils within the class. Therefore, there is truth in the fact that teachers require bravery and courage to do what is right, to focus on ‘learning’. It may mean that the certain criteria that Ofsted so often look for are no longer visible, but if that is what it takes to put learning at the heart of the classroom, then how can we go far wrong? It can be difficult to go against the ‘status quo’ – this is why fortitude and resilience are so crucial.
Hattie comments, “that feedback is critical to raising achievement is becoming well understood, but that it is so absent in classroom (at least in terms of being received by students) should remain an important conundrum” (p. 152, 2012). What has happened is that we have not given enough time and commitment to the two-way process of feedback, which in turn is why it is so apparently lacking in classrooms. But why has the process taken so long to embed?
In concluding Chapter 7, Hattie considers, “it could be powerful to move research beyond descriptions of types of feedback towards discovering how to embed ‘bet fit’ feedback not only in instruction, but also to help students to seek it, evaluate it and use it in their learning and towards teachers receiving feedback from students such that they then modify their teaching. This may require a move from talking less about how we teach to more about how we learn, less about reflective teaching and more about reflective learning and more research about how to embed feedback into the learning processes” (p 152, 2012). This should be the process – planning learning and next steps based on the feedback from each lesson. When and why have we ever deviated from this?
Let’s get learning back at the core of everything that we do in schools.
Be brave, be bold and do what is right for your children.
As Hattie establishes , “reflective learning”…..let’s get back to what matters.