Professional Wonderings: What Might Assessment And Reflection Look Like In The Time Of COVID?

For over a week ago now, I’ve been gently nudging my teaching partner, Paula, to write another guest blog post. She even has a topic: assessment in the time of COVID. During the past couple of months, Paula and I have spent a lot of time talking about our assessment practices and how they’ve changed. While there are certain things that we’ve been able to do …

there are other things that we have not been able to do, particularly photograph and record the process of learning and rich conversations that happen during our daily online meetings. For those that follow our class blog during the school year, we share daily posts that capture a lot of learning in action. Video recordings are huge for us! During the past four years working together, Paula and I have learned that it’s not just about capturing the learning of the kids, but also reflecting on how we respond to students.

  • What questions do we ask?
  • How might we paraphrase learning, and do we do this enough?
  • How much wait time do we provide?
  • How do our interactions influence the responses that students give? Do we sometimes, inadvertently, move them away from their interests through our questions?
  • What do we need to focus on for our professional growth, and what impact will this have for kids?

We moved from just recording videos to say that we “captured the learning in action,” to spending hours re-watching the videos, listening carefully to what we say and what kids say, observing our actions and theirs, and helping determine next steps based on our observations and the responses of students. We have both come to realize how much we miss during lived experiences, and how valuable this daily reflection time is for both of us as well as for the kids. 

Back in the classroom, the images and snippets of video recordings often helped frame our morning meeting times. They helped us work with kids to plan for what comes next.

Right now though, with everyone learning at home, privacy considerations restrict the use of photographs and video recordings during our online meetings. We realize why this matters, but we wonder about the possible impact on student and staff learning. Yesterday, we attended a fantastic webinar led by Diane Kashin and some staff from the Seneca Lab School. They also looked at the value in revisiting documentation, which made us wonder, what happens when we don’t have this documentation to revisit? 

As Paula continued to reflect on what she might say in a blog post, I wondered if talking out all of her wonderings might help. Before our online class today, I mentioned recording our conversation afterwards, but then as we got immersed in other topics, and I didn’t mention it again. This blog post topic came up a little later on though, and I decided to screencast our discussion. I thought that I would just share it with her, and she could then decide what to do. While Paula agreed to a recording earlier, she didn’t know exactly when I pressed “record,” so the conversation turned out to be really authentic. When I texted Paula the recording, we both wondered if it could act as the post itself. This is the unedited recording, which includes a perfect view of Paula’s ceiling (completely unintentional 🙂 ), but I also think some very valuable dialogue.

In this discussion, we wonder …

  • how we might capture the conversations during online meetings,
  • how we might revisit this learning with kids (when we don’t have video or audio recordings),
  • what might be missed, or misinterpreted, when we rely solely on our memories of what happened,
  • what the impact might be of these changed assessment practices on our professional learning and growth,
  • what others are trying and/or contemplating, and any successes or failures with different approaches. 

We hope that this starts a conversation, and we hope that you add to this conversation. This is not a post of answers, but one of questions, wonders, and our desire to improve. 

From The Combined Voices Of Aviva And Paula

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