Assessment for Teaching
By Mike Fleetham of Mike Fleetham's Thinking Classroom
At the Barber's
I was sitting in the barber's last week when I overheard a conversation from the chair next to me. It wasn't the usual local chitchat or holiday-based gossip. The client, obviously in sales and marketing shared an absolute gem. He said that there are only two questions you ever need to ask the people you sell to. Allegedly these are questions which provide the most valuable feedback for improving a service and engaging customers. I'll tell you what they are later, but if we want to improve our service (teaching) and engage our customers (pupils) what can we try?
Here's the thing about standout teachers: they build powerful learning relationships with pupils. They do this by knowing how relationships work and by believing such relationships are essential to learning success. They are clear about rules and boundaries yet enforce them with warmth and generosity of spirit.
Now, the really standout standout teachers make great use of these learning relationships. They use them to seek feedback on their own performance from pupils in their lessons. It's a brave thing to do yet one that can significantly accelerate not only teaching skills but pupil learning.
Ask the Audience
Here are a selection of questions which you can ask in order to gain useful feedback about the lessons you've planned and delivered:
- Which part of the lesson was best and why?
- How could I have made the learning different in this lesson?
- Are there any activities that we don't do yet in class that would help you to learn?
- Tell me about today's lesson.
- What went well and how could it be improved?
- If you were the teacher how would you raise everyone's achievement level quickly?
Take a Risk
You may begin to see patterns emerge from different pupils or different classes and groups. Whatever you find out, make a decision about if and how you want to grow and change because of this information. It is a professional calculated risk to involve your pupils in your own development. However not only does it give you valuable information that can help strengthen your relationship with them but it also models how they may wish to seek feedback for themselves in the future.
Now back to the hairdresser and the two most powerful questions you might want to ask the pupils:
1. On a scale from 1 to 10 how likely would you be to recommend me as your teacher to another pupil?
2. What one thing could I do to increase the score you gave in Question 1?
Go on be brave, set the rule frame then trust that your pupils are experts in what you can do to improve their learning. And if you are not ready yet to try this, spend equally valuable time answering this third question:
3. What is stopping you asking 1. and 2. ?