Playing Hit the Target!

“Students can hit any target that they can clearly see and doesn’t move.”

Stiggens reiterates throughout his essay that student confidence is an essential component of success in learning. In order to aid in student confidence a goal cannot be a mirage that is constantly wavering. If this is the case hope begins to diminish when the student realizes that the goal will forever be untouchable and out of reach. “This requires that we ensure that all students believe that success is within reach if they keep trying” (DuFour, 73).

Many people throughout the discussion mentioned the importance of self- assessment and clearly stated and written learning objectives for both the teacher and the students to refer to as a strategy to improve student confidence. In my classroom, I provide an end-of-the-unit self assessment at the beginning of the unit in order for the students to see where they are and where they will be going. They take this assessment at the end of the unit as well so they can see how much they have improved. This is a huge confidence builder.

Someone in the discussion mentioned concepts we discussed in a previous course about teachers being leaders and not the dictators of learning; teachers are the sharers of knowledge, not the keepers of knowledge. I was thinking that a simply way of executing this personae is to do investigations and explorations and being forward with learning objectives. Another way could be the use of charts. I use charts to write learning objectives for all to see. Using a chart students are then given guiding questions they can use to guide their independent work. Then, after independent work we can come back together and discuss and chart our learning further. In the end, the chart has our goal, guidance, and the results of student learning all on one piece of paper! This takes me back to our discussions surrounding the Nine Characteristics of High Performing Schools and how important it is to have a clear and shared focus not only between staff but between staff and our students! Before, I wasn’t thinking this was a characteristic regarding anything but staff; boy was I wrong!

Stiggins also discussed the importance of synergy between formative and summative assessments in order to build student confidence and promote achievable competence. Assessment FOR learning promotes the growth toward the goal by informing students of where they are and how to get to the goal.  Assessment OF learning verifies their learning.

In the end, we must nurture confidence in our students so that they can say, “I am not there yet, but I know where ‘there’ is, and I’m on my way” (DuFour, 78). And, “I’m not there yet, but I am much closer than I was and, if I keep trying, I am going to get there” (DuFour, 79).