Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Philosophy of Assessment

Dear Students,
You are the reason to be of my education career that has given me so much. Without you there wouldn’t be an application of all what I plan, there wouldn’t be a way to put into practice what I believe in my mind, and to adjust whatever has to be adjusted so that the goals of the education process are achieved. Those goals, that are the goals of assessment, are the following: the understanding of the content, the unit, the lesson, the objectives, the topic; and the process and all that have to do with it, the progress, your involvement as students in your own progress, where you are regarding the goals, how you got there, and where you are going, and finally success.  
For me as a teacher to help and support you in achieving these goals I have to fulfill my responsibilities, as you have to fulfill yours as students. First of all I have to assume the role of guide, I would say more, as lead learner, and you have to assume your role as guided. My role is beautiful as I have to give you all the opportunities I can so you can succeed, your role is also beautiful, because you have to learn how to spot those opportunities and seize them, you also have to align those goals you have to the curriculum and my goals. Don’t worry, you will have all the resources at hand, which include time and space, I will make it sure that you will have access to them and that you will learn how to use them. The opportunities will come in different sizes, smells, they will feel different, some will put pressure on you, some will feel as they hurt, some will put yourself against the wall, but once you follow your process you will see their beauty, their charm. Assessment will make you face your fears; it will make you confront yourself, me, your parents, and your peers, among others. You will have to discover who you are through those opportunities in the form of different types of assessments; which, in turn will lead you to demonstrate first yourself and then others that you are a very valuable part of our class. You have an opinion and you will learn to be faithful to it, because is yours, and you made all the effort so you could have it.
The types of assessment will be part of your process as student as they will be part of mine as teacher. Formative assessment will be most of all in the form of feedback, from me, from peers, from yourself; from your work and the work of others for example in hands-on activities, from you opinions in the debates and discussions, from your strengths and things you need to improve on through the different activities involving the four language skills: speaking, writing, listening, and reading, from standardized tests as quizzes, or unit tests of the goals that were summative but become formative due to the retest policies I have. One last thing, don’t be afraid to take risks, of getting your hands dirty, live and enjoy the experience that the formative assessments will give you, for example regarding a relationship with nature and all living things.
Metacognitive assessment will become part of your formal education life, as I hope it will be part of your day-to-day education life (life outside of school); where self-reflection and metacognition will be things you will first do because you have to, but will become automatic in your learning process. The search for consciousness will be a priority, where you will have to find what is your place in the class, in the school, in your house, in your country, in the world, based on what you know about yourself, and what you are doing to continue this process in the future.
Authentic assessment will help you see the meaningfulness of education, why are you at school, how can you practice and apply in the real life what you are learning, how is your education process forming you into a human being with values, with principles, that is able to create a moral code, that is able to discern, that has his/her own voice, and will respect it and will make others respect it, by listening, be being tolerant, by respecting diversity, by being an example. In order for you students to achieve all this I first have been, and I am, working on all this, how can I demand something from you if I have not worked on it first. Therefore, authentic assessment will be a very important part because is when you transfer what you have learned to other contexts, and to be able to do it you have to learn about the essence of the topics, of the units. Don’t feel pressure due to what I am saying, I will guide you through this, not by telling you the answers, but by letting you arrive to them on your own, something that is more relevant. From these types of assessments you will find out I won’t be necessary anymore at one moment in your education process, but I will be important for you and you will know exactly what type of support you will require from me.
I have news for you, the above is not all regarding types of assessment, I have left the best for last. Maybe you won’t see it as the best based on your past experience, which, by the way, will be very important in the planning of my lessons, what you know and how to complement, change, or whatever is needed so that those experiences work for the achievement of the goals. The final type of assessment is the summative assessment, here is where you will see the bigger difference based on my priorities, which are: guide you in your self-discovery process and help you own your education process, give you opportunities, give you voice in the class and in your own process, teach you that a process consist of steps and requires a lot of qualities and others, like: effort, patience, tolerance, not judging ourselves or others, respect, learning from mistakes and further on learning from success, clear expectations of the class and of what is required of you, and among others the 5 C’s in education of which I will talk later. For all this reasons the summative assessment will embrace diversity and will give you opportunities to prove your understanding in different ways, it will also be based on progress and not on grades, which are important but are not the goal, they are a means to an end, real understanding.
Due to the importance of the concept understanding, I have to say that understanding involves six facets: explanation, interpretation, application, perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge; this means that for you to show you understood you have to, among others: be able to teach it to your peers as you deem you can do it, for example presentations are important in this point; understand the context and the essence of the topic; see it through different perspectives; transfer it to another context, for example real life; understand it from another point of view without taking into account your experience and knowledge, but the one of another person; and seeing what does it mean regarding yourself. Don’t’ worry my beloved students, it sounds hard and almost impossible, but it isn’t, I would say success is guaranteed, I believe in you as I believe in me, and more important I will transfer this feeling to you, you will believe, love, respect, know yourself after this process, or at least begin to do it.
One of the cornerstones of assessment in the education process is the use of the 5 C’s of 21st Century education. 1. Creativity, which will be very important in my classes, not only your creativity but mine, to be able to translate those concepts and priorities I have into real class assessment opportunities. 2. Collaboration, which you will practice in my class through work activity, feedback given and received regarding your peers, a safe environment class where assessment will be carried out under circumstances that will help you feel free, for example through my no bullying policy, and the understanding, through the assessment activities, of the fact that we are social beings, and that interactions will help us discover ourselves. 3. Communication, which will be based on the idea that in my class students’ opinions are not only important, they are required and will give form to our class, that is why each class I have is different, each student is important if they assume their role and the responsibilities therein. 4. Critical thinking, which will be linked with finding reliable sources and doubting, even of me as a teacher, a person, an example, but finding those answers about the sources, about me, about yourselves, and in turn about what you are investigating, analyzing, understanding. Also, I should say critical thinking (and creativity) will be very important in problem solving, in the class and in other contexts. 5. Community, that relates to choice, it is our choice to be part of our community, to set an example, leave a legacy, be remembered due to our good deeds, to our fulfillment of our responsibilities, because we were consistent and constant in our beliefs. I will add one more C I learned. 6. Caring, it represents how I feel about what I do and about you, my students; I care for you, I wish you the best, and I will give my best, be sure of that. All of this creates a classroom where you are in the center, in a positive way, it is about you, but when you work on yourself you will be able to be part of something bigger, a support group with me, the teacher, as lead learner.
Finally, I want to tell you my dear students, that you will feel you are in control of your education process. Assessment will be fair, because it will tell you, through grading categories, where you are and how you will go to the next step. In this process you will also self-evaluate, you will be guided by me so you can be able to be left alone in choosing which resources you will need to achieve a particular goal. You will be part of that goal, because by following this process you will be able to understand what priorities do you have, what working habits will lead to success, what is the role of everyone around you from the perspective of love, the teacher, your parents, your peers, the staff, or others; but not only of the persons around you, also you will know what is the role of technology, of resources I will use, for example rubrics, that guide you through your work and expectations. As I told you before, this is a process and each step you take is paramount in your life, so don’t feel you didn’t succeed if you don’t achieve this, value what you have done and see your progress, ask yourself: Where you were before the class? Where you are now? Does it feel like you advanced? Why? Questions are required, and you can break them down so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Remember, I’ll be there for you, make the most of your experience, what you learned will last all your life if you nurture it, I will show you how, it is your choice to follow it or not!

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