Assessment Strategies for Effective Teachers -Introduction

(‘Assessment’ is topic under continuous discussion at Faculty Room of Disha Edupoint. In t

his article, I will attempt to put forth our initial discussion done on 4th of June, 2018.)

What does ‘assessment’ mean? Though we will be discussing its meaning in acade

mic sense only, I wish to bring to your attention, the general meaning of it first. When you file your income tax, you come across the term ‘Assessment Year’. When you ‘parachute land’ into a new scenario to handle things, you ‘assess’ the situation first. The meaning of the word may vary according to where it is used. Broadly, it

The process of gathering, recording and using information about a learner’s response to a task’.

is about ‘gathering data to analyse the situation of thing under scanner’.

In academics, assessment broadly means ‘the process of gathering, recording and using information about a learner’s response (performance/achievement) to a task’. Does it sound familiar? Yes, the tests, vivas, classroom quizzes etc are all part of one big scheme. Assessment!

But I would like to broaden our perspective at the onset only. Students are not the only section to be assessed but Teachers, Institutes, Policies and Policy Makers need also be assessed if we need ‘better outcomes’.

Why do we ‘assess’? Answer is pretty obvious. We assess so as to understand where the learner stands on(or is far off) his designated learning curve, which in turn can be used to take necessary ‘corrective’ actions. Assessment is a collective term for number of possible means and instruments to gather the information about learners progress. For example, a doctor may use MRI, CT Scan, X-ray and all kind of pathological tests to gather information about patients health condition and diagnose, so that he can decide best possible treatment and cure the illness. Note that doctor don’t do tests at random. He decides the set of tests to be done based on elementary observations and his own expertise, with a specific goal. In academics too, clear objective is very important for effective assessment.

Can we recall, how we have been using assessment, as Teachers?

• Use of short, objective type questions to assess prior knowledge of student at the start of the lecture.

• Use of short objective questions as checkpoints during and at end of lecture to assess students learning.

• Subjective/objective tests to assess whether objectives of lessons have been achieved.

• Subjective/objective (weekly at Disha Edupoint) tests to assess critical thinking skills and/or applied skills of students. Also assess their readiness for actual competitive exams.

• Survey to assess ‘effectiveness of teacher and her/his Strategies’.

• Viva Voce to assess ability of students to vocally demonstrate her/his learning and closely assess their thought process.

• Indirect assessment by observation.

Etc.

At the end, I would like to conclude by the reminder that gathering the data i.e. Assessment must be designed with well thought objective, detailed plan to use it for improvement and positive follow-up/feedback loop.

To be continued…

Changing culture through language.

Changing culture through language is more about ‘choice of words and strength of character’, than the dialect.

Language is more about ‘choice of words and strength of character’, than the dialect.

It was a casual discussion over ‘afternoon’ tea in ‘Faculty Room’ @Disha Edupoint, which gradually lead to realization of how our language affects our family, organisation, students, colleagues and most importantly, ourselves. I would like to start with the story/incident Rakesh, my colleague shared(on WhatsApp Group) with all of us by EOD. It goes like this, Two children climb over a tree while playing in the park. Their mothers rush to the place while a sudden breeze causes the tree branches to rustle. One of the women, cries out loud to her son, “Hey, you may fall down!”. While other woman chose to stay calm and said loudly to her son, ” Hold the branch firmly. Stay strong and be careful.”. The story continues with one of the children falling down and narrator trying to make a point… I will end the story right here. Because the point I want to make (and my belief) here will not change if the outcome is altered with other child or both of them falling down.

Is it just about the language or is it about the culture? ( We mistake our rituals for the culture? I am not talking about rituals). Our culture finds its way into how we talk and grows its roots stronger and deeper. The ones who realise this makes use of it to sell more and grow rich. Very few try it to change the ‘culture’ for collective good. But if we together make a conscious effort to uplift the standards of our thinking, we might boost our chance of better and brighter tomorrow. (Don’t rush to visualise overrated and dramatised outcomes.)

Let’s introspect our language and our ‘true culture’ by re-living some of our past experiences… and thinking, what amendments can we make if similar things happen again…

1) In the face of some unfortunate incident, what do we think first? We find someone to blame! Many a times, strangely, the one who suffers is at the receiving end of instant criticism. A person fails in business or any new venture. We rush to prove how we knew it from the start and try to convince how he shouldn’t have tried it in first place.

Why do certain linguistic/religious communities fail in business? Because, their culture and language have made them so.

We are culturally full of shit, naturally good at counting the faults and pathetically suck at nurturing good things. You will agree if you observe with keen ears and eyes. But if you observe long enough, you will realise how this language one hears, alters his culture. The young turk, who used to advocate the culture of possibilities, fall prey to the culture of ‘suffocation by loud exhibition of how caring we are’.

Let’s learn to forgive. Let’s learn to utter encouraging words. Let’s learn to accept that failures with smile. Let’s learn taking second, third, fourth…..chance, equipped with prior learnings.

2) How do we handle our success or failure? Do we accomodate our competitors in our celebration of victory? Do we appreciate others overcoming our own defeat? Do we realise that undermining fellow colleagues is not a way to raising ourselves?

Honest and clear exchange of ideas/views without breaking the communication channel is key to ‘winning culture’ at home and at office. Let’s be open to radical ideas. Let’s be open to positive criticism. Let’s help others win. Because, when your team rises, you (or your fellow) may rise even higher. Win-win for all.

Let’s learn to play non-zero sum game !

3) How can we stop discrimination based on the occupation? We need to realise, we need someone to do that job too which we consider lowest. Instead of judging the occupation and one who is doing it, how can we improve the working conditions and dignity in it? That is the question we need to ask and answer. Here, let me share an image I came across few days back.

Study and score good or else we will send you to keep herds !(अभ्यास कर. नापास झालास तर ढोरं राखाले जा.) This is the typical threat given to school going children in our neighborhood. Is keeping the herd so low of a livelihood? Now I find, even jobless guys are not ready to keep the herd causing decline in number of cows, buffaloes and resulting in downsizing of local milk industry.

Language and culture grows together. It can either help us or slap us hard. Depends on how careful we are when it is shaping up.

I can go on adding examples, but I think they are not important now. I trust your thinking and reasoning ability. The question is how can we develope our language and vocabulary (irrespective of our dilect), which will shape winning culture around us.

I am trying, not make any conclusive remark. The ball is in court of thoughtful readers. (Comment your views to push the thought forward and Share to more readers if you can connect.)

How to create a good lesson plan !

(What are the components of best lecture plan? How can we plan the knowledge delivery to achieve best possible learning in students? This was the questions we asked ourselves in ‘Weekly Teachers Meet’ at Disha Edupoint dated 16th May, 2018. This is my attempt to organize and present what we discussed.)

 

Is teaching an art or is it a science? How can you impress your audience or win the hearts with your charismatic voice and presentation may be an art, teaching is definitely not just an art. It’s a science. I have seen people with very average speaking and presentation skills master the art of effective knowledge delivery and transform students’ life. A well organized, hard working teacher can perform better than one who relies merely on talent. It’s very important to master art of thorough planning and efficient execution. So here are few tips to design an effective lesson/lecture plan.

 

  1. Write it down! Many people have confidence that they will remember everything and execute according to plan they have created in their mind. Avoid being the victim of these thoughts which stops you from excelling in your profession. A well written, detailed lesson plan will help you to do your job better. It’s better to also note down the time needed to complete each of the things you are planning to do and optimize.

    Write it down !

 

  1. Set up the class environment. Greet students properly. Encourage students to participate in discussions and other activities you are planning for better learning outcomes.

 

  1. Define goals and objectives. What are the skills/knowledge you wish your students should have acquired at the end of lecture? You should be able to state the goal for yourself and it should be clear enough for the students too. After all, students are in-charge of their learning. They should know what is expected of them, so that they can focus their efforts to it.

 

  1. Keep your anticipatory sets ready. You should have appropriate strategy to tap into prior knowledge of students, introduce the topic and condition their minds for better grasping of what’s to come next. It can include short questions with one word/yes-no type of answers, discussion on popular application of a concept or even the decorative arrangement which induces the thoughts about topic to be learned in students mind. It needs to be short, crisp and aligned to our goal. It may be helpful to introduce learning goals and objectives at this stage too.

 

  1. Introduction and Connection. This is the time to capitalize on the effects of anticipatory sets and introduce the topic to students. It’s helpful to tell students the connection of topic under discussion to what they have learned earlier and even how the current topic is going help them learn the concepts to follow. You can even add how the topic is relevant, for which exams, what is the weightage of marks it will carry etc.

 

  1. Expectation and Standards. Teacher should also be clear of what are the standards he/she expects students achieve in that topic. It’s helpful if the standards are aligned to the standards set by board/education department school follows. Teachers should have high expectations and should train students mind to do so. After all, the outstanding performances need the precedence of higher expectations.

 

  1. Direct Instruction. This is most significant part of a lesson plan, which mistakenly is supposed to be the only part. This is where we actually teach students. You have a great scope to innovate and make your content engaging yet complete. You have to make sure to complete all the concepts, sub-concepts, applications, relevant examples etc. How to make direct instructions more effective? Is the topic for one more group discussion, but we can put down the essentials in short.

 

  • Use short, simple and clear sentences.
  • Use stories or other engaging methods if possible. Include activities.
  • Deliver at the right pace, with timely pauses.
  • Use the earlier points while going from one topic to other.
  • If possible, use role play/activities. (After all doing is better than just listening)

 

  1. Guided Instruction/Practice. This is crucial. How to reduce students’ dependency on teacher and build self confidence? The process of handing over the control of students learning curve from teacher to him/herself involves an intermediate step. Here students are given some tasks. Some problems to solve, a write-up or a project to be done in groups/individuals. Teachers are available to help them if required. Teachers won’t do the task for them but help them complete it themselves.

 

  1. Unguided practice and Assessment. This includes daily practice problems, homework etc. which students can attempt on their own. This can be graded to assess students understanding to plan for re-teaching or other remedial actions as per requirements.  Teacher can even use formal assessment (to be graded) or informal assessments. Subjective, objective type of questions or essay, write-ups or project works to asses students learning.

It’s very essential to gauge what students have learned. Have the lecture plan mate its goals. It will help us analyze the effectiveness of lecture plan, think of modifications to be done if any or use differential instructions if needed. (Every student has different learning abilities, grasping power etc. A teacher should try and accommodate them with different mode of instructions and/or utilize extra time/resources.)

 

  1. Exit plan. Closure of the lecture in important. It’s important to end the lecture on high note. A cumulative demonstration of what students learned, the write-up or some innovative way would be helpful. It is important to summaries the days learning and helps continuity with topics to follow. Every lecture should be complete it itself yet be part of continues flow of the learning curve.

 

  1. Keep equipment, resources to be used in class handy and ready to use. While you plan your lecture, you may also plan for little demonstration, short quiz or some reading material to be shared with students. Also a chalk, projector, some electronic material might be the part of what you will need in class. Make sure it is in place before you enter the class.

 

 

This is how we have been preparing our lecture plans and will try to do it more effectively to ensure better learning outcomes.

(You can mail your views or questions in any at ghagi.rupesh@gmail.com)

Top qualities of ‘Effective Teacher’ !

(What are the top qualities of an effective teacher? What makes them stand out? This was the question we asked ourselves in ‘Weekly Teachers Meet’ at Disha Edupoint dated 8th May, 2018. We had a great group discussion and I am trying to put down the crux of our discussion here.)

 

Teachers are nation builders. Because we shape future citizens, technicians, scientists, bureaucrats, politicians and all the building blocks of the system. Hence, we teachers need to sharpen our skills to create maximum impact in very subtle way. So what are the qualities a teacher should have or strive to acquire to become ‘Effective Teacher’?

 

  1. A teacher should be able to develop a friendly relationship with students. Earning students trust helps a teacher to create a positive environment in and out of classroom. Remember, learning sessions are more productive when everyone is into it and it cannot be forced. Students should find a friend, philosopher and guide in teacher.

 

  1. A teacher should respect the student as an individual. Hence whenever we are interacting with students we need to understand our limits. We have to make sure, our efforts are motivating her/him to introspect, identify own mistakes and improve.

    Richard Feynman

 

  1. Teachers should have caring and kind personality. Teachers should have a practiced patience and compassion. They should be patient listeners. When you try to bring about the change forcibly, it’s very unlikely to happen and also damages the communication channel. Teachers should encourage the students to discuss, ask questions and even disagree. It’s ok if we don’t know answers sometimes and asking students permission to answer it later.

 

  1. A great teacher always finds a way to get students involved in process of learning. There are many tools like examples, stories, humor, live demonstrations etc. A teacher used them wisely.

 

  1. A teacher should be a good communicator. Modulations of sound help to put forth our point effectively. But content, selection of words and small simple sentences are more important. Ultimately, our goal is to help the student learn and not to impress her/him.

 

  1. Teacher should be aware of social, emotional and cognitive abilities of a student. Some students cannot communicate due to lack of social skills. Teacher should be able to communicate properly with shy students too and develop their confidence. The emotional strength also affects how a student learns. Teachers should also consider the cognitive ability of the individual to set her/him on the best suited learning curve.

Every child is different. If we understand her/him and then try to teach taking care their individual needs, we do better as teachers.

 

  1. Teachers should have high expectations from students. It should motivate student to do better and have higher expectations. It fuel student’s efforts to succeed. Teacher should develop this skill where he can inspire students to do better and not get discouraged by where he stands.

 

  1. A teacher must have very good and updated knowledge of his subject. He/she should keep reinventing the method of instruction he/she use to teach. He/she should be able to construct a complete learning experience, which does not only include the lecture but other innovative tools/activities to be used in and out of the classrooms. Students learn more by doing rather than just listening and watching.

 

  1. Teachers should be passionate about their profession. Dedication towards teaching will bring out best in you. When you want your students to succeed, you will find the ways to make yourself more effective.

 

  1. Give time for yourself. Read. Learn from others. A good learner is a better teacher. Think on your strategies. Reinvent !

 

(You can mail your views or questions in any at ghagi.rupesh@gmail.com)