Although testing can be an annoyance to all involved, they are an unfortunate reality in today's educational climate. The best we can do is make the most of the time we have with kids and remind them that it's temporary.
Students are capable of really deep thinking when we allow them an appropriate amount of time to gather thoughts and consider the diverse views of their classmates. If we want students to be critical thinkers, we must give them opportunities to follow their own inquiry and dive deeper into their learning.
Guest post: Laura Gibbs joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma in 1999, and she has been teaching fully online courses since 2002. You can find out more at her website: MythFolklore.net, which is also home to the "Growth Mindset Cats" -- Cats.MythFolklore.net.
Students who are about to go into the world, out of our watchful environment need opportunities to practice first. Let's give them that and trust that they will take advantage of the chances we provide. Just because there will be a few kids who take advantage in a negative way doesn't mean we should punish the whole group.
Although education is supposed to ensure democracy on some level, the system treats different kids inconsistenly really separating the haves and have nots - and those who don't mind being complicit. We have the power to change this dynamic, at least in our own spaces by giving kids voice in the process.
Most students are curious about many things, it's just a matter of tapping into them. Listen to them while they speak and offer them more opportunities to share their ideas. Try to record it when it happens because magic usually happens and it's great to have proof of those experiences.
We all have our pet peeves and hot button issues that provoke emotional or passionate responses. Know what yours are and act in a manner fitting to a person in our positions. Mistakes will happen and that is okay too, but students should witness an adult taking responsibility for his/her actions and hopefully will act accordingly in the future.
Google Forms is a great way for teachers to gather data about learning or create exit tickets or provide feedback. The possibilities are limitless. Aside from being really easy to create, forms allows us to collect data in an efficient way with the help of the students. We no longer have to walk around with a clipboard all of the time, trying to record what students to tell us. Instead we can put the onus on students to participate in the experience.
As teachers, we need to allow projects to play out as they will, adjusting as we go and making sure to really examine the data before we make a judgment on the success of what has transpired. As long as we have collected multiple pieces of data, we can easily point to student learning and growth and then problem shoot or provide supports where needed.
Students need to learn to hear feedback in a meaningful way that doesn't just put them on the defensive, but rather keeps them open to moving forward and becoming a better learner.