Why Formative Assessment Is Important For Teachers Too

Jan 13, 2017 | Leadership, Teaching

Why Formative Assessment Is Important For Teachers Too

In the bustling halls of Greenwood High School, Mrs. Rodriguez, a seasoned mathematics teacher, was on a quest for continuous improvement. Recognizing the transformative potential of formative assessment not just for students but also for herself, she embarked on a journey that would redefine her teaching practice.

The Catalyst for Change:

One sunny afternoon, Mrs. Rodriguez found herself reflecting on her recent algebra lessons. Despite her years of experience, she felt there was room for growth. Inspired by the idea of formative assessment, she decided to take a bold step: seeking feedback from her colleagues.

The Gathering of Minds:

Gathering her fellow mathematics teachers in the cozy corner of the school’s staff lounge, Mrs. Rodriguez initiated a candid discussion. She shared her recent lesson plans, the challenges she faced, and her aspirations for improvement. The room buzzed with a collaborative energy as her colleagues eagerly embraced the opportunity to contribute.

Constructive Critique and Supportive Insights:

As each teacher delved into the intricacies of Mrs. Rodriguez’s lesson plans, the atmosphere shifted from critique to collaboration. Constructive feedback flowed freely, with suggestions for alternative teaching strategies, creative approaches, and valuable insights that only experienced educators could provide.

Adapting in Real Time:

Buoyed by the wealth of collective wisdom, Mrs. Rodriguez wasted no time in implementing some of the suggested changes. The very next day, she adjusted her lesson plan based on the collaborative insights received. As the class unfolded, the real-time formative assessment allowed her to gauge the impact of these changes on student understanding.

The Ripple Effect:

The ripple effect of Mrs. Rodriguez’s initiative extended beyond her classroom. Other teachers, inspired by the collaborative spirit, began to engage in similar practices. Peer observations, lesson plan critiques, and shared reflections became integral to the school’s culture, fostering a sense of camaraderie among educators.

A Culture of Continuous Improvement:

Months later, the mathematics department at Greenwood High School had undergone a transformative shift. The once-isolated practice of teaching had evolved into a communal effort. Teachers not only benefited from the formative assessment of their colleagues but also from the rich tapestry of experiences and perspectives that collaboration brought to the table.

Truth be told, Mrs. Rodriguez’s story is fictional but it doesn’t have to be. Effective teachers understand the power of formative assessment when applied not only to students but also to educators themselves. Our Collaborative Leadership Academy workshop emphasizes the kinds of questions that resonate with this fictional teacher’s story by addressing questions like:

  • What principles of adult learning do you need to know and use?
  • How do you lead change through continuous improvement and innovation?
  • How can you leverage staff involvement in important decisions and allocate resources to maximize effectiveness?

By fostering a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement, teachers can collectively enhance their instructional practices, creating a more responsive and dynamic learning environment for students. This narrative underscores the importance of recognizing that, just like their students, teachers too can benefit immensely from the reflective and adaptive nature of formative assessment.

1 Comment

  1. Von

    Teacher accountability is such a hot topic these days. I strongly support teacher observations to ensure accountability. While I know many teachers wince at being observed, I agree with Moss, I think teacher observations serve several purposes:
    1. teacher accountability – they help to ensure teachers (and students) are doing what they are supposed to be doing
    2. the need growth areas exhibited during an observation can be addressed in a general PD session so as not to offend or intimidate teachers
    3. the best practices exhibited during an observation can be highlighted in a general PD session and teachers can benefit by knowing they have a colleague they can use as a resource if they need some pointers in this area

    While I see these as great benefits to our education construct, I do not think observations alone (or student performance) should determine teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. There are many other factors that determine teacher effectiveness besides these two things. Consider, resources, teacher experience, student demographics, available teacher coaching, parental involvement, student state of being (trauma, homelessness, unmotivated, etc.). These are just a few of the dynamics affecting teacher effectiveness. I understand that every nook and cranny cannot be considered when determining teacher effectiveness. I just think that when it is determined that teachers seem to be ineffective, other contributing factors should be considered before dismissing teachers.


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