The third and final strand to our whole school focus on feedback this school year is: Collecting feedback for ourselves in the classroom. Departments will be working to trial techniques which allow them to understand more about the learning that has been taking place in their classrooms.
This essentially forms part of AFL but our drive is to ensure that AFL becomes formative assessment which reveals that the trialing of different techniques is only part of our work. The techniques themselves have little impact on student progress if the information made visible by them is not acted upon. In the words of Dylan Wiliam, we must adapt our teaching in light of information collected in order to ‘meet student learning needs’.
As we trial techniques, our focus must therefore also be on how we can interpret this information as quickly and as usefully as possible to ensure it has an impact in the self same lesson or at least the subsequent lesson. Most of the techniques fall into six broad categories: questioning, all student response systems, creating a suitable classroom environment, tasks which ask for application of skills/knowledge, communication, observation.
Whatever technique is employed it all comes back to working the classroom and interpreting what you see and hear. This is perhaps why this quotation sits permanently in my head as I go about my teaching business: ‘How teachers think. How they make daily decisions and judgements. It is not necessarily who they are or what they do. It is how they think and that is the biggest difference.’ John Hattie on Radio 4s ‘The Educators’.