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 – it is the foundation to each of the following stages of learning:
- We begin with knowing where our learners are in relation to the identified learning goals,
- Provide learners with multiple opportunities to practice new learning,
- Closely observe the learner’s thinking as apparent in conversations and demonstrations,
- Reflect on where the learner’s thinking is in relation to the learning goal
- Engage in “conversations” about that thinking in order to provide learners with feedback.
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 new thinking, and providing feedback.
“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.
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.
What are we monitoring? When we monitor, we are seeking evidence/artifacts of our success criteria in action in our learner’s practices. We know that we have generated success criteria for our theory of action; the artifact/evidence should reflect or support one or more of these criterions – which is why we want to capture it. If our success criteria are too broad, we may not know what to collect evidence/artifacts of!
These artifacts can be conversations, observations, and demonstrations. When a conversation, observation or demonstration provides us with insights into the degree of success of our goal/theory of action, we want to document this artifact.
This documentation can take many forms (a video, a written record, etc). This documentation is only valuable however, if we actually act upon it.
So, we need to be able to describe what we have seen/heard, then engage in analyzing what our documentation is telling us and reflect on what we saw, hear or observed – what we have captured in our documentation. This then leads us to wonder, to ask questions, and to generate theories about where our learners are in relation to the theory of action. We will likely need to consult some research to help to clarify and extend our thinking.
Once we have our theories, we need to think about how we can respond to this…how we can move our teachers’ thinking forward? We then begin the process again…Below are some questions that we are working with to help us in this process.