“I’ll never have it all figured out”

That’s my motto for now on. It may sound terrible at first glance but it’s the truth and it keeps me sane. I’m trying to accelerate my professional development but in reality I need to slow down. I’ve read at least twelve new education books this summer, not to mention countless articles/blog posts/resources from Twitter, and the consensus is pretty much this: “Take things one step at a time, don’t try to do too much at once, and realize that no one has it all figured out.” Trying to do too much at once will lead to disaster, poor results and burnout.

So with the students coming back in two days, I’m keeping in mind that some lessons will fail. Some days will be better than others. It’s important that I recognize these mistakes and learn from them. Luckily, in the end I know it will always be worth it. I certainly have found my passion in life.

*Keeping up with this new blog is proving to be more difficult than I thought. Sometimes, I completely forget about it between everything that I’ve been planning out. Other times, I remind myself to write a post but it never gets done. I can’t let myself slip away from this! I’m going to attempt to write a weekly post from now on.

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Assessment 3.0

During my first year of teaching, I struggled with “grading” students. I loved observing them and providing feedback but when it came to actually assigning a numerical value to an assignment, I was lost. This whole idea of assigning a letter grade based on numerical values didn’t sit well with me. I spent countless hours trying to force numbers onto my rubrics. I also wasn’t sure how to properly weigh assignments. Apart from being lost, I just felt that it was all just a waste of time. I didn’t care whether my students received an A or an F, what mattered to me was the progress they made during the year. I wanted to provide feedback so my students could understand what they were capable of and how to improve.

During my second year, the school I worked for switched to standards-based reporting. I felt somewhat freed from the burden of “grading”. Instead of forcing numerical values onto an assignment, I could use it as evidence for student growth. I could focus more on learning and less on grading. However, with this out of the way, I still needed to improve my ability to assess and provide feedback.

Enter Assessment 3.0 by Mark Barnes.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of this book until this summer. I just finished reading it yesterday and all I could think of while reading it was WOW! All of my thoughts about grading during my first year were summed up in the beginning of this book. I’ve never felt so connected to a book before. I cannot wait to use the techniques I’ve learned from this book with my students. I want to converse with my students about their learning. I want to provide meaningful feedback to my students and watch them grow from it. I want my students to provide each other with feedback. I want to create digital portfolios that show student achievement and growth. Most importantly, I want to forget about “grades” and help my students progress as readers, writers, speakers, listeners and individuals.

It won’t be easy.

It will certainly be time consuming.

It will require a lot of reflection and revision…but it will be worth it. 2015-2016 school year, here I come!