I’ve just read Lisa Dennis’ blog post “What is Your Teaching Everest?” It was my diversion from grading and from thinking about how far behind I am on grading. Dennis’ premise is that her Everest is prompt, timely feedback. She offers several suggestions on trying to offer meaningful, forward moving feedback to her students.
One example: one pager submissions, which are graded against a rubric for a formative score and to which she emails 5 students per class with reactions, not corrections. In this way, she develops a deeper relationship with her students and her students receive prompt, meaningful feedback. This also provides her with insight into what each student is in need of during conference time.
Instead of students turning in reading logs, Dennis has her students take a picture of their reading reflection response and then email the pic to her. Thus, Dennis has all the information from the reading log needed without collecting the logs.
Using student self-assessment is another way to get feedback. The teacher doesn’t have to give the feedback for students to learn. Teaching students to self-assess moves them toward being life-long learners.
Lastly, Dennis vows to “Listen first, respond, encourage, and redirect/suggest later.” As a teacher I am a guide not a steamroller. Students working/practicing leads to student growth; thank you Harry Wong.
So, how does all this impact me. First, I’ve gotten a nice breather from being the focus of attention. Students are reading and/or studying for tomorrow’s vocabulary. The stack of ungraded papers still looms large on my desk. Now, though, I can think of how I can, in the coming days and next semester, move toward making grading/assessing more meaningful and more prompt. I’ve put some new strategies in my teacher tool-box. I’ve thought some new thoughts. What more could I want in a day’s work.