- Assessment is a time for students to reflect on what has been shared with them.
- Assessments can take all shapes and forms. Ultimately, what we want is for students to share their thoughts and understandings.
- Continue to reflect and assess your own life and challenge yourself to meet goals.
It was a great honor to have been a guest on the Daily Drop In Podcast with host Rae Hughart.
One of the recurring themes during our sharing was the power of reflections. I remember Rae asking me my thoughts about holidays, and immediately in that moment, I thought about something deeper. I thought about all of the articles, speeches, and life experiences I’ve seen and had over the years. A common theme amongst them has been self-care.
However, it didn’t stop there, and I had this epiphany that holidays are like built-in, periodic times where we can stop and think about where we’ve been. We also have the chance to think about where we are and where we’re going in life. In other words, we can reflect, and those holidays take place throughout the year.I had this epiphany that holidays are like built-in, periodic times where we can stop and think about where we’ve been. We also have the chance to think about where we are and where we’re going in life. Click To Tweet
I left with a eureka takeaway from that years ago.
Even more so I connected those sentiments to the work we as educators do every day. I have a friend, whose Master’s Degree is in Curriculum and Instruction, who told me that no instruction is really “complete” without an accompanying assessment. Authentic instruction and assessment should always be paired together. I left with a eureka takeaway from that years ago. That takeaway was that assessments are opportunities for students to reflect on what has been shared with them.
Whether formative or summative, elementary, secondary, or post-secondary, great educators are always giving their learners opportunities to reflect on what has been shared with them. Great educators are always checking in and doing so in ways that are seamless, interwoven, and intuitive.
“Who do we have as thought partners in our professional and personal lives?”
Some see “assessments” as being the typical multiple-choice type of test or a facsimile thereof. I contend that we’re not always committed to a particular method, but that we are committed to hearing what our students think. Some of the greatest learning experiences in my life have come from just being in the presence of those with intriguing perspectives. To have those people as “thought partners” in my life has undoubtedly been a “level up” move for me. Something that is a bit of a “level up” question for all of us right now is, “Who do we have as thought partners in our professional and personal lives?”
Notice I said “hear,” as assessments don’t always have to be those of a written format.
We, collectively as a community, forget sometimes that spaces we live in daily should be spaces where we offer up thoughts to be shared, challenged, debated, and ultimately maybe one day become part of our own value systems. You see when we give students an opportunity to reflect on their learning we again get opportunities to hear their reflections and concurrently shape their value systems. Notice I said “hear,” as assessments don’t always have to be those of a written format. That in a way gives us “permission” to seek multiple approaches to assessments including rich discourse as a group.
Obviously, we have structure for a reason, but just as much aren’t we ultimately after learning about their sentiments?
I reached another epiphany years ago during my time in the classroom when I realized that although there was a focus on “grades” for students, what I was really after was having an understanding of what they knew and how they felt. All of us have probably at one point or another in our careers thought about students not sharing or demonstrating their learning in the way we intended. Obviously, we have structure for a reason, but just as much aren’t we ultimately after learning about their sentiments?
A connection is that when we reflect on our lives we’re doing an assessment or self-assessment.
A connection is that when we reflect on our lives we’re doing an assessment or self-assessment. This brings us back to the question Rae posed to me at the beginning of the podcast. Holidays throughout the calendar give us those periodic chances to ask ourselves where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. As we close out 2021, I want to challenge people to do a few things.
One of those things is something I’ve had the honor of participating in for some time now with my PLN. It’s known as the “One Word” exercise, and in essence, we as individuals pick one word that becomes the focus of the coming year. In previous years I’ve chosen elevation, immerse, overflow, and others as my focus. If you’ve never done this before, chances are you’ll find it to be quite empowering. I dare say that it’s something you can come back to and revisit throughout the year.[scroll down to keep reading]
The four questions have a focus not only on instruction but also on our lives as adults.
Another thing I challenge people to do is to go through an adaptation of the Four Essential PLC Questions by the late Dr. Rick DuFour. So what are our next steps to developing and implementing that skill in your life? Enter four questions again adapted from Dr. Rick DuFour’s Four Essential PLC Questions but with a twist. The four questions have a focus not only on instruction but also on our lives as adults. Here are those four questions:
- What are you expecting yourself to accomplish and know in the next 12 months? (Your personal goals)
- How are you going to know whether you’re making progress on those goals or whether you’ve achieved those goals? (How you measure/self-assess each day)
- After you’ve invested time, energy, and other resources into your goals, what if you still haven’t achieved them? (Different approaches/modalities to reach the same, desired end result)
- What are you going to do if the goal you set is one you’ve achieved fairly quickly and easily? (Do we stay with that goal or do we “enrich” our lives and go beyond to extend that goal to something else?)
If we’re asking our colleagues these questions, why aren’t we asking the same for our own lives? Using a simple construct like this shows how there are often commonalities between instruction and life strategies. We can use these to become more and serve others at a higher level of impact.
I’ll share a “secret” with you, and it’s that when I challenge others I’m as well challenging myself.
So as we enjoy the holidays, let us all take a moment to pause and reflect. I also want to issue a future challenge for us to come back and revisit this one year from now. I’ll share a “secret” with you, and it’s that when I challenge others I’m as well challenging myself. Thank you Teach Better Team for the opportunity to share my heart, my mind, my soul, and my spirit. Truly it’s a great honor and in doing so I leave you with this quote that conveys my sentiments. From me to you, I wish you a phenomenal rest of 2021 and just as equally a great 2022!
About Vernon Wright
Vernon Wright (@TheWrightLeader, TheWrightSpeaker.com, ZeroApologyZone.com Founder) is a keynote speaker, consultant, entrepreneur, and educational leader. He has over 16 years of experience working in large, urban school districts and has served in the roles of teacher, teacher leader, campus leadership team member, and district-level support.
Vernon has shared his experiences as a speaker numerous times over the years at the campus, district, regional, and state levels, and beyond garnering acclaim from recognized industry leaders.
Vernon has brought his unique style and combination of storytelling, humor, insights, and authenticity to audiences for years. He knows that real change begins when we commit to creating authentic connections with others.
Vernon has an established presence on social media (@TheWrightLeader across all platforms), and he unabashedly stands as a voice for the people with zero apologies (ZeroApologyZone.com). He has dedicated his life to elevating others with a relentless focus on touching hearts around the world.