Finally, I am taking some time to reflect on some of the work I have completed in my first year at St Hilda’s as Deputy Head. In April 2015, at the start of the summer term, I ran a session for all staff on Assessment for Learning. I was rather anxious that many of the staff would yawn and would think ‘not that old egg again!’ but luckily the staff were very receptive and the session was a constructive time of professional dialogue and sharing good practice.
At the inset we watched 2 short videos; one with Dylan Williams who outlined the 5 strategies that make up formative assessment and the other which included the wisdom of Dr Bethan Marshall, also from King’s College London. These videos served as a starting point to remind all staff of the principles behind what we are all doing every day to assess what learning is taking place and to encourage independent learning.
The differences between formative and summative assessments were reviewed and then the staff were given time to reflect on what types of formative assessments they were currently using. Some common strategies shared were the use of success criteria, 2 stars and a wish, ebi and www to name but a few. This time was valuable, as often as teachers we do not have time to share such ideas, particularly in a single form entry school when you are not planning and evaluating with a parallel teacher.
I had prepared a book of AfL strategies for each participant which had at least 100 useful ideas, some of which people are currently doing, others new and staff were asked to choose one new strategy that they would like to implement with their classes and report back at a curriculum meeting how it had gone.
I then gave out an AFL audit for everyone to complete in their own time which is used in some schools by the SLT to monitor the effectiveness of Assessment for Learning in their settings. This was helpful for us all to really analyse and reflect what we currently do/do not do and gives us all something to work towards.
My Form 5 class this year had used ‘Learning Logs’ and this was shared with all the staff. Their entries gave me an insight as Form Tutor how the girls were feeling about their learning, what had gone well etc. and I was able to use this to feedback to other subject teachers. The logs are never marked and the girls were very creative in how they presented their reflections, initially they were given guidance but by the end of the year the majority of them had found various ways of reflecting and evaluating their learning. These logs can be used for all ages and modified as appropriate depending on how you wish to utilise them.
The final part of the session was based on ‘Austin’s Butterfly’
For those of you who have never watched this short video it is a MUST! It is so great for a number of reasons: critically thinking, providing specific feedback, using observational skills, perseverance, collaboration and more. It is also a very powerful message that promotes Growth Mindset. None of the staff had previously seen this video and we all agreed that we must all embrace it’s message of aiming for excellence through feedback and re-drafting.
Rounding off the session I requested that before everyone left the room if they would help me to reflect on the session by completing an ‘Exit Card’. On the card were 3 points for them to comment on; what they enjoyed most and why, how I could improve upon my presentation skills, something new they would take away and utilise in the classroom. The feedback was honest, reflective and made all the effort I had put into planning the session worthwhile!
I’m proud to be a member of the St Hilda’s and Aldenham Foundation and I look forward to continuing to work together on Teaching and Learning in the years to come.