The end of each school year calls for us teachers to look back and reflect on our teaching practices, to spend some time contemplating our successes with our learners and to think about what could have been done better, what we can strive for in the coming year. And so I share with you the observations I have made of myself as a teacher.
My positive results have been similar to previous years. I am amazed with writing development and my students’ absolute love to write, illustrate and communicate their ideas and feelings through words on paper. I am awestruck by the children who struggled with English less than a year ago, now creating books and using vocabulary that seemed unimaginable. I love how much they love to read, to change their voices, to stop and reread again. I smile when I think of how much I enjoyed teaching maths this year, I think more so than any other year in my decade of teaching - a huge thanks and big hugs to my teaching team for making our maths conceptual and play-based.
But with my successes were challenges and regressions in my own practice. Some of these were beyond my control and ability, but some of it was mine. I’d like to share one thing that was profound in my daily practice that I unfortunately let go of this year. It’s the A-word… ASSESSMENT! I know, we hear it too much, but this is different, I promise. It’s a natural, formative assessment.
It is called the Feedback and Marking Grid, and it’s somewhere between marking books, giving feedback to students and taking anecdotal notes all in one. I don’t know where it started or how long it has existed for, but it transformed my marking and feedback in class and also kept me keeping observational notes of my students and their progress. It let each lesson flow from one day to the next with a moment for us as a class to reflect on what we learned and how to move forward - with the voice of the children. During lessons or right after (sometimes both), I would have a look through student work, take notes on my grid from what I see written and what I observed in action, then I scan some samples. The following day, I started lessons by presenting slides showing enlarged versions of student work or photos of collaboration, where the kids could identify strengths in their own and others’ works, they became pro at giving and accepting feedback from each other in a meaningful and respectful way.
I’m not sure what happened, or at what point this past year I let go of this practice and returned to marking individually in books (surely more time consuming). Kids see the feedback (maybe) but rarely even respond to it. Now comes the end of the year, I am confused because I stopped using this amazing daily tracking and assessment tool… and even more, that I don’t know why. Maybe my desk became too much of a mess and I couldn’t find it. Regardless of the reason, I noticed the change.
There are different versions of Feedback and Marking Grids, I created one that fit my needs with my learners and what I wanted to know and keep track of. I kept separate ones for different subjects so that come report writing time, I had sufficient meaningful comments that were easy to locate, full of students' strengths and next steps in learning.
Here is a simple version that you can download to try it out. Make a few copies (super organised when printing them in booklet format) and see how it works for you. More decorative versions are available in my TPT store... so if you like this, go on and check them out.