Now I Get It!

Yesterday, I met my wonderful teaching partner, Gina Bucciacchio (@_missginab), for lunch. While we thought it would be nice to go out and celebrate a great first week of school, the real reason that we met was to mark together and plan for the coming weeks.

For a while now, “teacher moderation” has been a focus at our school. I’ve done this before this weekend, but yesterday, I really understood the importance of it. When Gina and I met, we decided to start by going through the math homework together. We discussed the questions that we wrote on the work for our students. We looked at the strengths of the students, and we looked at reoccurring difficulties. We discussed options for how we could address these difficulties in the classroom. By talking through what we noticed, and sharing ideas, we were able to develop a plan: one I know will benefit the students.

Then we moved onto the initial assessment that we gave for our first TLCP (Teaching Learning Critical Pathway). We did this assessment on the first day of school, and we are moving into the teaching part of this first focus, so we want to make sure that we address all student needs. Marking these assessments was one of the best learning experiences of my life. First we went through the rubric together and discussed what the sections meant and what we wanted to see in this written work. Then we both read a student work sample, we wrote down what we would give it, and then we passed it to the other person, and discussed the marks. We did this for every single written piece.

Yes, it took a couple of hours to mark the work, but it was well worth the time. The conversations allowed us to clarify our thinking, outline common problems, discuss common areas of strength, and plan for how we would address these various needs. As we were marking together, our discussions evolved, and our approach to our upcoming writing activities changed. Assessment informed teaching practice, and teacher moderation allowed this to happen. Now I get it!

In the past, I may have tried out teacher moderation, but it was always just a matter of something I needed to do. We were told to all look at one piece of writing, evaluate it individually, and then discuss our decisions. It was an activity to do, and yes, in theory I understood the benefit of it, but I never put the time into truly making it work. Gina helped me realize that this was time worth taking. This was time that would benefit our students. This was time I was happy to invest.

So what are your thoughts on teacher moderation? How do you make it work for you? More so, how do you make it work for your students? 


6 thoughts on “Now I Get It!

  1. Wow! I think this is great! What a great teaching team you both are! As a Parent I appreciate that you did this and may continue to do this. I know it is a lot of work but I know that my daughter will benefit from it tremendously, as I think you both will too, as you can bounce ideas, problems and solutions together.

    Thank you, both of you, for taking the time to do this. I think Grade 6 is blessed to have you both teaching it! And I think it is awesome that you both work so closely together 🙂 I am a lucky Parent to have such an incredible team teaching my daughter!!

    • Wow! Thank you so much Rebecca for such a lovely comment. We’ll definitely continue to work closely together and do what we did this weekend. We know that this benefits our students, and this alone, makes any time invested well worth it.

      Many thanks for your kind words and all of your support!
      Aviva and Gina

  2. Trying really hard to do this with other core French teachers this year, when we have some longer pieces to work with. So glad it clicked for you. It really can be an amazing process. Sounds like you and Gina are going to be an amazing team.

    Rebecca, thanks for the reminder to respond to my son’s teacher’s blog! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Lisa! I definitely see how important teacher moderation can be, and I feel very fortunate to work with a wonderful partner where this moderation can happen so well. Hope everything works out for you too.


      P.S. I’m sure your son’s teacher will love a blog comment too! 🙂

  3. Teacher moderation is so powerful – I really enjoyed reading about your “aha” moment. I’m going to try to make it a priority outside of the EQAO focused release time grade 3 & 6 teachers have to practise this skill — it’s true, we practice moderating assessments when released to do so, but it is tricky to find time to do this during regular instructional days. Professional Learning Communities during instructional time are great for this when scheduling allows.

    Your blog post is a good reminder to me that teacher moderation really should be embedded in our practice within our grade teams. Thank you! Making it happen is an excellent goal. Learning from and with each other is the best!

    What sort of strategy did you employ? My favourite (and one that I use with students doing peer moderation in class) is where each person evaluates the piece with a level (on a sticky note) and “hides” their level/feedback on the back of the student work…and then reveals their thoughts with their partner after they have both had a chance to level the same piece.

    Fantastic that you were both able to carve out a common time to do this! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment! Teacher moderation really was an a-ha moment for me this year, and it’s something that we’ll certainly continue. I love your suggested strategy too. We didn’t do anything quite so formal — just jotted our thoughts on a piece of paper, switched the assessments, and shared our thoughts aloud. Your strategy though would have worked perfectly, and would be great for students to use as well. I’ll be doing this for sure!

      Thanks for sharing!

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