A Cycle for Monitoring: The Responsive Leader in the Assessment for Learning Culture
“…we study learning in order to figure out how to teach…pedagogical documentation is the teachers’ story of the movement of children’s understanding…it is a research story…” (Wein, 2011)
SETTING THE CONTEXT
To move learning forward we need to be monitoring in an ongoing way. When we closely observe thinking, we are monitoring. Monitoring is not something that is “done to” the learner; it is “done with” the learner, alongside, asking questions, seeking/clarifying/extending thinking, and providing feedback.
Monitoring should be occurring naturally in your school – both within classrooms and the school as a whole. When we monitor, we are collecting “feedback” (in many different forms – documenting conversations, observations and demonstrations) about where the learners are in their progression towards the desired goal. We then respond (clarify, challenge, extend, etc.) and the cycle begins again.
Consider what the Ontario Leadership Framework says about the nature of monitoring:
Improving the Instructional Program
Monitoring progress in student learning and school improvement:
- Assist staff in understanding the importance of student assessment for, as, and of learning.
- Collaborate with staff during the process of data interpretation
- Use multiple sources of evidence when analyzing student progress
- Give priority to identifying those students most in need of additional support
- Incorporate the explicit use of data when making decisions that relate to student learning and school improvement
- Examine trends in student achievement over time (one or more years), rather than just one point in time,
- Collect and use data about the status of those classroom and school conditions that are the focus of the school improvement efforts
- Provide conditions for teachers to use data effectively (time, support, partnerships with experts) in a culture in which the use of data is valued.
Not Just A Record of Our Monitoring…a Deep Analysis to be Responsive
“We document not to merely record activities; but to mark events so that we might study and interpret their meaning. “We have always documented as a society – from cash register slips to medical records, family photo albums to report cards. But pedagogical documentation offers more than a record. It offers a process for listening to children learners, for creating artifacts from that listening, and for studying with others what children learners reveal about their competent and thoughtful views of the world. To listen to children learners, we document living moments with images, video, artifacts, written or audio recordings of what children learners have said, or other digital traces. These documented traces of lived experience, when shared with others, become a tool for thinking together. To hear others’ thoughts makes us realize there are many viewpoints.” Think, Feel, Act, 2013
Remember…documentation doesn’t become “pedagogical” until we engage in analysis and meaning making…as this is the piece that helps us to determine the thinking of the learner and subsequently, allows us to respond. For more, see below!