Teachers collaboratively thinking about student thinking.

As a faculty we got together in teams last week to discuss evidence of student thinking by looking at student work. Collaborative assessment is a well established process practiced by many professional learning communiities in schools around the world. However, often endeavours are based around improving student grades and driven by specific criteria. So it is refreshing to be part of a study where inquiry into the collaborative process is seen as a value in its own right. It is an opportunity for teachers to reach deeper understandings about how children think and how we teach them to think.

We used a simple protocol called ATLAS to help streamline our discussions, a worthwhile process to try. There were some fascinating pedagogical discussions and great sharing of ideas. I loved listening to the early years teachers interpreting student thinking through pieces of work, reminded me of discussions you might hear art critics having. Interestingly at times, using the process provoked us to suspend judgement, withold qualifying statements and refrain from giving background information. In this sense we were learning to listen in dfferent ways and when we did listen, two affirmations resonated – differentiation and student driven inquiry

There were great examples of differentiation and student driven inquiry happening across the school, but also the recognition that we could do better. As teachers, sometimes our best intentions get diluted along the way through our dense to do lists, busy curriulums or swollowed up by the gamet of other performances bestowed upon the teacher. (see time and space blog for further throughts on these issues). “To develop student thinking we need to treasure student thinking” – we need to maximise the space and time to allow it to blossom and actualize the importance of structuring learning around the curiosities that children bring to the classroom.

Does this mean we need to revolutionise our curriculums? What are your thoughts on actualizing schools of thinking?

Acknowledgements:

http://www.lasw.org/methods.html

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