August 29, 2020
Throughout my administrative internship, I had the honor of experiencing interviews from both sides of the table. In general, an interview can be dynamic, featuring deep insight into the applicant’s thought patterns, belief systems, and presentation skills. There’s potential to communicate so much more beyond the basic Q&A routine.
From answering questions in mock interviews to asking questions of beginning teachers, myself, I realized certain trends. One question that surfaced often was worded along the lines like this:
- What does a great learning experience look like?
- How do you know if students are learning?
- What are the characteristics of a great lesson?
In reality, the question might have been paraphrased as:
How Do You Measure Student Learning?
The answer is equally complex as it is very simple.
As a former classroom teacher, I might recognize logistics like:
- Are students safe?
- Are the students compliant, engaged, or empowered?
- Is there a culture of collaboration, feedback, and risk-taking?
- Is classroom management supporting or obstructing learning?
- Are expectations clear?
- What standards are being addressed?
- Who owns the learning?
As an administrative intern, I might also see through the lens like:
- What do you feel when you enter the space?
- Does the teacher vary spacing, interaction, and delivery?
- Does the teacher lead with inclusion?
- How are individual learning needs being addressed?
- Is this lesson culturally and community-responsive?
- Are there social-emotional-learning connections?
- Is there evidence of data-informed instruction?
- Are there investments in differentiated opportunities?
- How does this align with our School Improvement Plan?
- What supports might we put in place to help teachers help kids?
- How does this align with our teacher evaluation tools and checklists?
- How might I invite this teacher to lead the post-observation conversation?
- How might I empower others to support, collaborate, and lead?
- What’s my role in moving our learning forward, together?
As a parent, I’m automatically analyzing:
- Would I want my own child in this teacher’s class?
- Yes! Why? What is that makes me feel this way?
- No! Why not? What are the reasons for that?
- Can I feel the relationship-like connection in the room?
- Are kids safe, learning something, and having a little fun?
I’ve barely scratched the surface on what might be the best ways to measure student learning. In an interview, you might need to have a carefully scripted, memorized answer for the interviewers to check their boxes or rate your answer on a predetermined scale.
Or, you could speak from the heart.
Because all of the formalities, data, Pinterest-ing models and infographics, evaluation programs, walk-thru tools, research, expert advice, titles, degrees, and adult opinions in the world don’t compare to one simple measure: THE KIDS.
It’s not about you. It’s not about me.
How Do You Measure Student Learning?
ASK THE STUDENTS.
Care about them.
Amplify their voices.
Ask for their feedback.
Gauge their well-being, ownership, and perspective:
- How are you doing today?
- What are you learning?
- Why are you learning this?
- What are your next steps?
- Are you having a good year so far?
What questions might you add to evidence and measure student-centered learning?
When striving to craft, facilitate, and inspire the best lesson ever, we must remember to keep students at the center. The learning spaces, experiences, and opportunities belong to them.
.@mccoyderek says: "When I go into classrooms, I'm going straight to the students to ask what they're learning." pic.twitter.com/d19OgWhpaF
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) February 19, 2016
Good Morning, #satchat. As a parent now, I just realized that I really don't care as much about "the ultimate classroom" as much as I care that there's a teacher in that space who loves teaching/learning and knows/cares about my kid. That's it for now. https://t.co/QeAb3WYNqv
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) January 19, 2019
NEW! My son's first day at child care was difficult–for his daddy. As a parent, I was shocked at the things I looked for immediately, as well as the things I did NOT look for. #HamstraHighlights: https://t.co/fo4u1WZBph #MyalsMoments #MeetTheTeacher pic.twitter.com/K2FI7tA3Tx
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) August 20, 2019
You know who the REAL experts are on good remote teaching? Our students. They sit in lots of remote lessons taught by lots of different people. Are you planning on asking them for feedback on what is working? You should be! Their expertise can help you to get better.
— Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) August 25, 2020
1-Teachers Demonstrate Leadership, 2-Teachers Establish a Respectful Environment for a Diverse Population of Students, 3-Teachers Know the Content They Teach, 4-Teachers Facilitate Learning for Their Students, 5-Teachers Reflect on Their Practice, NCSSE 1-Strategic Leadership, NCSSE 2-Instructional Leadership, NCSSE 3-Cultural Leadership