1. Reflect on your beliefs and how evaluation impacts adults (Pages 15-20 in The Art of Evaluation)
In the book Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty by Elizabeth F. Barkley (2010) says telling is not teaching. This means that what an instructor says (or does) is not the measure of success; what the learner says (or does) determines success. (p. 96-97) After considerable reflection during examination of my own beliefs regarding my teaching and instructional planning practices I understand that different situations in the classroom will guide my instructional choices. Teaching, like life, is intrinsically messy, and it is best not to take things for granted or expect things to be a certain way. There into itself lays a realm of learning and teaching possibilities. Also, without taking risks in life and putting ourselves out there we have nothing to lose, but on the same token we have nothing to gain. I understand that by modeling to my students critical thinking when dealing with unexpected results and the behaviors associated with creatively implementing collaborative learning, the students will gain insight into the process and will be encouraged to actively engage in similar behavior.
To further reflect on beliefs and how evaluation impacts adults I would like to discuss relevant quotes from “The Skillful Teacher”. (Brookfield, 2006)”… teaching is frequently a gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risk are endemic.” (p. 1) In this quote Brookfield is trying to capture our attention and set precedence, he is proposing that teaching is a “multilayered complexity” (p. 1) and that there is no hard and fast set of rules to becoming a successful teacher or no single term or descriptor to surmise our experiences. That teaching is situational, and as we muddle through different teaching context we usually draw on the “insights and intuitions born of experience.” (p. 2) I’ve learned to accept the splendor in that teaching is perfectly imperfect. I expect to continue to accept the success of my students in learning as my measure of satisfaction. “if the teacher does all the talking, the need for students to think or to take responsibility for their own meaning-making, understanding and learning recedes.” (p. 167)
Brookfield’s analysis in this section of his book emphasizes the value of student talk versus teacher talk. He explains that students are more engaged in a democratic learning process by using essential questions, clarifying, to extend co-evaluation to the students and use constructivist methods that are instrumental in the learning process and is a way for teachers to show respect to our students.
I decided to include these quotes from Brookfields’ book “The Skillful Teacher” to illustrate my learned beliefs of becoming an effective instructor. What I will continue to do in my classroom is to reflect and teach the way I have best learned the objectives for myself, ensure that the students are fully engaged through constructive and collaborative learning techniques and not to be afraid to make mistakes in front of them. I will also continue to be vigilant to provide encouragement of effective ongoing habits of self-assessment in learners and to promote self-authority and self-attribution.
2. Reflect on concept dynamic assessment OR self-assessment OR continuous assessment (Chapter 11, 12 & 13 in the Art of Evaluation)
I chose Chapter 13 the Integrating of Ongoing Evaluation and Learning Process because I would like to look a little closer at the specific recommendations associated with “Continuous Assessment of Self, Peers, and Instruction”. This process of evaluation and learning can be best described as instruction that is truly learner centered by using formative evaluations to transfer the responsibility of monitoring learning from the instructor to the learner.
This chapter breaks down activities for integrating multiple evaluations into separate sections, the first one on “Focusing the Learners on Assessment”, then “Opening Evaluation Activities”, “Mid-Process Evaluation Activities to Be Used during Instruction” and lastly “Follow-Up Activities for Ongoing Evaluation”.
The first activity encourages class discussion on methods of assessment and rationale for emphasizing it throughout the course. The statements about evaluation provide considerable introspection and self-awareness that promote insight into our belief systems. I understand that when we verbalize and form meaningful understanding of our personal biases and experiences that we are creating our current approaches to teaching. I understand that our preferred educational beliefs play a powerful role in determining our professional behavior and emotions.
The second activities explore the learning process by engaging them in specific inventories, checklists, and nonthreatening quizzes to test students understanding of the topic. This can be done in small groups or individually. This is meant to help students become conscious of past behavior experiences, current skill levels or their attitudes and discuss learning objectives. I see this is a very engaging technique that creates an active learning environment, provides a reference point of knowledge about students’ interests and expectations in the course and also insight into the students’ strengths or weaknesses.
The third activity is the mid-process evaluation helps determine what connections they are making, what concepts are making sense, what further inquiries about topics they would like to make, and what they might need practice on; this might be a formal or informal checking in. This will allow students time to reflect and become more engaged. Techniques include essential questions, paraphrasing, peer summative discussion, summarizing in groups or individually, having students describe in one or two sentences what they have learned, journaling, and scaffolding with previous topics, and to reflect on their overall performance. Further suggestions such as role-playing working in pairs, providing specific pointers intermittently during student based activities, ongoing self-evaluation records and some form of quasi-anonymous question and answer exercise. I understand and agree with the necessity of immediacy to keep a continuous loop of explicit corrective feedback and further practice integrated in the classroom activities.
The last activities are follow-up activities for ongoing evaluation to ensure ongoing monitoring and growth of learning. Action plans, follow-up groups and journals are suggested as effective fundamental activities. Action plans include having the learner choose a task or activity that they engage in frequently and can improve upon by implementing what they have just learned. This is then reviewed periodically to determine its effectiveness. Follow-up groups as the name implies encourages groups of students along with a facilitator to consider sharing ideas about problems with implementing the new learning. These critical perspectives, resources and peer supports can assist in clarifying objectives and criteria. Journaling is the last suggestion of follow-up activities for tracking self-awareness and help to adjust techniques to achieve the learning outcomes. It is my intention to create an environment for students to collaborate with their peers on social networking platform specifically for alumni of the BCIT foundations program. I understand the concept and merit in peer and self-monitoring progress through a collaborative environment for lifelong learning.
As suggested in the final thoughts of this chapter, evaluation is important. Evaluation in grades should be a positive and enriching experience and not be about power and control. If students are focused on grades alone (the product), they can easily lose sight of the process of learning. Also if a high-stakes evaluation comes at the end of the course, the teacher is exercising power and control. The learners will give up intrinsic self-efficacy and become passive learners. Additionally, I agree wholeheartedly that if the evaluation of both the teacher and learner is ongoing, continuous, and integrated; learning and teaching becomes a shared activity.
It is my intention to choose a few new effective strategies that I have learned from this chapter to implement initially and to build upon the success of each one step-by-step.
3. Reflect on one of the Hot Potato topics (i.e. group grades, late assignments) or the concepts of validity and reliability
I have chosen this quote from Brookfield (2006), The Skillful Teacher to reflect on:
“Over the years, however, my position has changed quite dramatically. I now agree with Freire’s (Shor and Freire, 1987) view that “education always has a directive nature we can’t deny. The teacher has a plan, a program, a goal for the study. But there is the directive liberating educator on the one hand, and the directive domesticating educator on the other” (p. 172). Myles Horton puts it (characteristically) more colloquially: “There’s no such thing as just being a coordinator or facilitator, as if you don’t know anything. What the hell are you around for, if you don’t know anything. Just get out of the way and let somebody have the space that knows something, believes something” (Horton and Freire, 1990, p. 154). In other words, if you’re a teacher you should stand for something. You should be honest about admitting that you have something to teach and some idea as to how learners can best learn it. The key points are whether or not your directions are (a) transparent to learners who can understand what your direction is and why you deem it important for their learning, and (b) open to being critiqued and challenged by learners.” (pp. 169-170)
This quote touched upon an implicit way of being in the classroom for me that I have been practicing explicitly for some time now. However, I have at times taken for granted that the students understand all of the fundamental reasons why they are in my class, what my overall or daily expectations are and the purpose of my teaching method.
Instinctively I have been vigilant in my lesson planning to include the criteria for evaluation and a concise road map for them to get there. In the vocational trades instruction, it has also been apparent to me to teach real world or field based experiences and to answer the students, “why do we have to learn this” questions explicitly. However, the purpose for why we would use a certain method of teaching or organize the day a certain way sometimes eludes the students. A simple explanation of the direction and flow seems to put their minds at ease and validates the purpose. I often mentioned or discussed purpose of training in my class with reservation because I was aware that I was out there on a pedagogical limb, but it almost always seems to create synergy and connectedness in both directions between teacher-student and student-teacher relationships.
Throughout this book, there were times when I could really relate to what Brookfield was saying. It is important to me to bridge the gap of teacher-centered to student-centered teaching. Also, I have found in my experience that the main reasons students act up is simply out of fear and lack of trust. I can identify with Brookfield’s premises to incorporate trust building skillful approaches in my classroom teaching based on Brookfield’s first use of this quote in his book “Students want to know their teachers stand for something.” and these additional statements: (p. 55)
“Unless you make your expectations, purposes and criteria are explicit you will be perceived as holding these close to your chest in a secretive way and therefore not to be trusted.” “ The fear students have is that you have these expectations anyway, and they will reveal themselves at some point in the course in a way that is likely to trip students up, catch them off-guard, and cause them problems … builds trust in students’ eyes … even if they disagree with or dislike this”. (p. 70)
4. Reflect on how this course has impacted your thinking
Even after completing a 120 hour Canadian certified TESOL teaching course back in 2009 and having been teaching for five years now I was enlightened by the amount of professional development that occurred in this course. I consider myself an individual who is intuitively and intrinsically motivated to provide students with the most authentic real-world and engaging classroom experience. It is been a rewarding experience in life for me to be able to honor and live the dream of mine as an instructor. When I completed my initial apprenticeship training back in 1993, it was evident that I had both a keen interest in the trade and I enjoyed sharing this talent and knowledge with others. After spending more than 20 years as a mentor, inspiration, leader, and innovator in the most aspects of the electrical trade I embraced this lifelong dream of mine to continue teaching and inspiring students in a more structured and creative environment. In my first few years of teaching experience abroad, I discovered how passionate I was about teaching and realized I had an innate ability to connect with and inspire people authentically. One of the realizations that became evident from taking this course and being involved in the PID program is the abundant amount of resources and research information about teaching available. It is also apparent that teachers tend to be in a state of flux and currently after years of research; a new and evolutionary paradigm shift is taking place. I’ve always tried to pride myself on being coachable and to be comfortable with change to be a lifelong learner so to speak. This course was invaluable, and it was apparent from the beginning that you put in a lot of effort and time in ensuring our time together created learning in a safe environment that was both productive and rewarding. The wealth of information both digitally and in class is overwhelming. It required me to develop and learn a new way of thinking and understanding of evaluation and assessment and inspired the attainment of critical key skills and tools to implement in my teaching practices. Also equally of importance was learning how to incorporate this every day while teaching. I also appreciate the incredible amount of time and thought that goes into a course to ensure the goals and objectives are well defined and specific and how to ensure the evaluations are valid, reliable, authentic and in alignment with those goals. Overall it was a rewarding experience; combined with the other PID programs this program has provided key elements of understanding in the process of course development and introspection for professional growth.
Barkley, E. F., (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty
Brookfield, S. A., (2nd ed. 1993). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom
Fenwick, T. and Parsons, J. (2nd ed. 2009). The Art of Evaluation: A Resource for Educators and Trainers
Provincial Instructor Diploma Program: PIDP 3230 Evaluation of Learning (2013). Vancouver: Vancouver Community College