On the 6th & 7th September, I attended the Embedding Formative Assessment Conference with Professor Dylan Wiliam in Barcelona.
Anyone who knows me, understands that Dylan Wiliam is someone I look up to greatly. He is a widely-respected educational researcher and lecturer who specialises in assessment methodologies.
I attended a lecture of his many years ago at the Institute of Education in London and it had a huge impact on me as a professional. Being honest, I can’t even remember what he said now but I do remember the feeling of being empowered and motivated leaving the lecture hall.
I guess what Maya Angelou says is true: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
Professor Wiliam is based in the USA now, so when researching and gathering resources for the Rathú Assessment for Learning Bootcamp, I discovered that he was facilitating training in Spain, I jumped at the chance to go and partake.
I got so much out of the two days and intend on further researching many aspects of what we explored, however I wanted to share a few pointers that he shared:
“The purpose of feedback is not to improve the work, but to improve the student”
Think Feed Forward, not Feed Back! How can you phrase your constructive feedback to improve the learner, not the piece of work? This is where success criteria can be used effectively as a point of feedback.
“The best formative assessment leaves NO WRITTEN RECORD whatsoever. It just helps teachers make smarter decisions”.
This is a bug bear for me – I see organisations in Ireland advocating folders to support Assessment for Learning and other paper-based recording methods. This adds further pressure on teachers who are struggling to meet the demands of the job.
The purpose of Assessment for Learning is not more paperwork and workload – it is to support teachers gather data ‘on the spot’ and make an evidence-based decision on where to take the lesson next.
“Plan. Ask. Shut Up”!
Plan your questions in advance to adequately assess students in class.
Ask the question.
Give appropriate wait time. Research shows that teachers typically wait 0.9 seconds for a students to answer.
Slow down. Be patient.
“Don’t know won’t get rid of me”!
Refusing to allow students opt-out of learning by employing a hands-down policy. This is where students do not raise their hands except for to ask a question.
Students understand that participation is obligatory and even if they say “Don’t know” as an answer, the teacher will engage them through tactics such as 50:50, Phone a friend and Ask the Audience.
Good old “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, eh?
For further information on our Assessment for Learning Bootcamps, please read more.