For the last month or so, I have been working with a wonderful coach–Amanda of Mud and Ink Teaching. Together we are building a curriculum for the middle school around essential questions and inquiry. Last week, we simply talked about the role of assessment, both formative and summative, in teaching and ways to align my teaching to the kind of assessment that not only helps students learn but helps me teach better.
The thing is, I am such an idealist. . . . I have this notion of what teaching and learning and assessment is, but the reality does not always match my vision. And then I feel defeated. I remember in my undergraduate program, we talked a lot about Bloom’s taxonomy and the need to teach and assess at those higher levels: analysis, evaluation, synthesis. Yet when you examine most assessments prepared by the big textbook and standardized testing companies, the questions are mainly at the knowledge, comprehension, and application levels. Are we asking enough of our students when we keep our instruction and assessments at these levels? Are these the skills they will need when they are out of school and into the “real world”? These are the things I keep asking myself.
I want to find a platform to share these ideas. I certainly have the platform with my blog, but who, besides me, reads it? How do I communicate my ideas with others? How do I find my voice in a world that already has so many voices, that I am just one more whisper?
I want the hard conversations about instruction, about teaching, about learning, about assessment. I believe that it is only through meaningful dialogue, not fussing or bashing or even debate, that we will discover the answers for ourselves. I know that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to learning, teaching, and assessment. We have to mix and match according to the needs of our students. We have to incorporate the required standards of our states and districts and schools. But we can use those standards, not so much to drive instruction but to enhance what we do.
Teaching can be so isolating. We walk into the classroom with our students and close the door. I want to remove that door so that I can have these conversations. I may have to change the name of my blog, though. It is evolving from my original intent.
Now, I have to find the audience.