After taking this course, ECS 410, my thoughts on assessment and evaluation have changed drastically through both the learning in this course as well as actual experience within my Pre-Internship. One of the biggest things that I have learned is that any and all assessment or evaluation must be of how the students are meeting the Outcomes. Giving students a test that more evaluates a student’s ability to find an answer using a specific method is wrong if the outcome states only that students need to be able to find the answer to the given question. Yes, it is good to see which methods a student might prefer, but because he/she likes to use one over the other they should not be penalized for it. Our job as teachers is to see where students are at, see where the outcomes expect them to be, and find a way to bridge the gap between those two things, and so any assessment and evaluation needs to be to the benefit of both the teachers and the students to see if they have met those outcomes or what they need to do to show that they have met them.
In my own field experience I worked with two cooperating teachers. My one cooperating teacher already had a system in place in which students showed their learning via completing workbooks, quizzes, assignments, tests, and projects that we were required to work within, and so my evaluative strategies were more limited in that classroom, and my formative assessment strategies tended to be more along the lines of showing students examples of questions and then helping them as they needed in their workbooks. I had more room in my other teacher’s classroom, and so used things like entrance slips/quizzes, review of the day before, textbook work, assignments, and tests to see whether or not students understood. In that classroom the teacher stated that everything had to be worth at least some marks, otherwise students would not do the work, so completed textbook assignments and quizzes were graded. In both experiences, the only time students were really involved in learning from their mistakes was if they completed one of the assignments early in the class of the first coop, after which it would be marked and they would have an opportunity to fix their mistakes, though oddly not many chose to do so, even if they did finish early. Overall it was good to see how other teachers were assessing, including my one coop’s more upbuilding way of assessment, but it left me with a lot to think about in terms of how students actually show that they have met the outcomes. In the future, I would like to be much more explicit in telling students what the outcomes are and which one(s) are going to be tackled in each unit.
In terms of mixing practices in the field and philosophy, I would say that my philosophy did not fully develop until the last couple weeks after Pre-Internship, in which I had the opportunity to not only think about what was taught in class, but also how the assessment practices talked about in class would actually work within a classroom. Not only that, it really allowed me to think about who I am and who I want to be as a teacher. So saying, I would say that anything that I had wanted to do on a more ideological standpoint came second to merely trying to find my own place in the classroom, and so assessment practices would have matched much more to those that I had experienced rather than those I wanted to integrate. Overall the barriers that prevented me from possibly assessing students a different way were my own inexperience, as well as a lack of thorough thought and planning as to how I would assess students differently. A way in which I might overcome these barriers are to put in the effort and time to plan out each outcome that I hope to cover in the class, as well as plan out what my own classroom expectations are so that when the school year does start I can inform the students of my expectations and give them a tentative schedule, thus encouraging me to stick with my plan.
Based upon what I have learned through ECS 410 and my own Pre-Internship experiences, there are some key learnings that I will take with me as I move into my Internship:
1. Assessment should always be directly related to the outcomes.
2. Education is about the students, not the teachers.
3. There are many ways in which a student can show that they have met an outcome.
These are important because they will really encourage me to go the extra mile when assessing students. If a student finds another, but equally adequate, way of showing that they have met an outcome, that is great. Mathematical understandings can be shown in more than just tests and assignments, and so I should encourage students to find how they understand the math that I intend to teach them. That is why these are important, because they place the focus off of my teaching, and instead upon the students’ learning and meeting the outcomes.