Assessment and Negativity

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We want to have and create lifelong learners, but we also want to make sure what we are doing in our classroom, and what our students are taking out of our classroom, is purposeful and meaningful to them. In other words, we as teachers need to bring the curriculum to life, and show our students how it relates to them, help them make connections to what they are learning in school to what they are living. In terms of the assessment portion of education, it is clear to know that assessment is messy, at times unclear, and potentially harmful. While we were in class, we were asked to reflect on our past experiences with assessments both in the school and with extra-curricular experiences, whether that be in a sport or a form of art/music, and through our conversations, most of the memorable experiences were negative. It shows that negative thoughts and experiences have a huge impact in our lives, and this negativity carries with us as we move forward. As a (be)coming teacher, I would hope that my students will not associate assessment (both formative and summative) to negative thoughts and experiences in my class. After it was pointed out that most of our experiences were negative, we started to understand that not everything we experienced with assessment was negative, rather that is what stood out to us when we thought of assessment and evaluations. As I was thinking about the class, I started to realize something. Most of the negative experiences that we had could have been avoided with a simple clarification in the assignments, or tasks.

As I reflect on my experiences, first within the school setting, initially I remember the bad experiences, and why they were bad. I also think that if my teachers had given me feedback as to what I did wrong, or what I needed to do to improve, the mark at the end of the assignment, or exam, wouldn’t have been as bad. If they would have taken a few extra minutes to provide constructive feedback, and even an opportunity to re-do the assignment with a better, more comprehensive understanding of the tasks, I know those negative experiences would have turned into positive ones instead. Maybe that is part of my beliefs as a teacher. I want all my students to be successful in my class, and understand what it is they are learning. I know it is easier said than done, but I would love to provide second, and third chances to my students, as I would rather them understand the content and be successful, than for them to see a bad mark and quit trying.

Several years ago, I had a teacher that I really enjoyed. He would cover the content with us to make sure we understood it, using current events and issues of interest to make it relatable and easier to understand. During and at the end of each unit, he would allow us the opportunity to work as a class and decide together when things would be due, and when our unit exam would take place. It gave us the responsibility and ownership we wanted and needed as a class to work together, while still meeting our own individual needs. If we wanted to have the exam a month from the day, he would allow us to, but he also made it very clear that we would be covering new content each day. He also always advised us that it would be easier to have the assignments and exam due earlier, so we would not get ‘lost’ or ‘forget’ important material we covered during the time within the unit. I think as a (be)coming teacher, I would love to adopt this technique into my classroom. Not only does it create a relationship with the students, but it also helps develop the trust with them as well. I think being able to relate and create open relationships with the students will help not only you as the teacher, but the students as well, both in terms of their assessment and evaluation, as well as their ability to communicate and ask the questions they have, or the misunderstandings that may come about.

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