The class teacher has many responsibilities and it is not mainly teaching on a daily basis, but the same important is to monitor children’s progress through regular assessments. Teachers must know whether children progress or know and how it was achieved. It is extremely important to have this feedback for parents and other staff. Regular assessments take lots of time and in this point the role of a teaching assistant is crucial for providing continuity in this process.
As a teaching assistant my main role is to support the class teacher whilst this on-going assessment of pupils takes place. The teacher can measure the progress of each pupil by carrying out lessons and setting the children clear objectives. Children, the teacher and the teaching assistant have to be aware of objective during every class session. This is why it is a good idea to display learning objective at the start of each session. In this way children understand what they are going to learn and I know what I should support.
In order to assess pupil’s achievements the teacher will take the main lead in doing so and the learning support practitioner will take guidance from the teacher’s assessments in order to support the pupil’s progress. Teaching assistant’s role at this time will be to support the teacher and have an input by discussing how they also believe the student is coping with the subject and to help set targets that can be put into the teacher’s report so the student can achieve to their full potential.
In order to progress in a lesson a teacher will plan each lesson by producing a scheme of work, so that the learning objectives for that lesson are clear (as mentioned before), the teaching assistant will support the teacher by looking at the scheme of work prepared and after discussing with the teacher will prepare differentiated materials for SEN, EAL and targeted students and make sure these are done before the lesson is due to take place.
The teaching assistant can also support the teacher by helping manage classroom behaviour, and keeping students especially targeted students focused on the task at hand, encouraging students by making positive comments and prompting them to participate in the lesson. What is the difference between formative and summative assessment? There are formative and summative assessment strategies to measure pupils ‘progress against learning objectives.
The formative assessments methods are: Open-ended questions – encourage students to make own decisions in putting their ideas into the task and to complete the task successfully Observing students – we can watch pupils working on a daily basis and use our knowledge about their strategies to sort out problems later to help them if they demand it; we can carry out formal direct observations to cope with more complicated and problematic situations.
Listening to how pupils describe their work and their reasoning – we can follow student’s patterns of resolving problems and using different strategies Checking pupils’ understanding – we can do it mainly through questioning them about their tasks or strategies they use or checking a progress of their tasks in books, and then additionally to ask questions about notes in books. Engaging pupils in reviewing progress – we should ask students after every session what they have learned against learning objectives and how they can use this information and skills in the future.
The formative assessments help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work, help adults recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately. Summative assessments take place at the end of terms or schemes of work when teachers check what was achieved by pupils at a particular time (assessment of learning).
The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. It can have a form of an end test, a report, a final project or an exam, etc. Explain the characteristics of assessment for learning. Normally at the end of a unit, term or a year there would be a test to be completed by the learner’s this would be made prepared by the teacher.
The teacher would be compiling these tests again with the pupil’s abilities in mind. The tests may be different to some pupils or even every pupil. This will also help the teacher distinguish whether or not the children are succeeding with their learning or where they still need help.
From these tests the teacher will give feedback to the child’s parents/carer or the headmaster and other professionals through verbal communication or written reports. The written reports can be used consistently throughout the year so as the teacher can assess the achievement of the pupils.
Assessment for learning can be used for many different purposes, including to identify pupils’ needs, plan and adapt activities, check that learning is taking place, motivate students, acknowledge learning and measure results. Generally, assessment for learning informs and promotes students’ achievements and encourages them to take responsibilities for own learning. Assessment is used for various purposes.
* Assessment for learning: where assessment helps teachers gain insight into what students understand in order to plan and guide instruction, and provide helpful feedback to students. * Assessment as learning: where students develop an awareness of how they learn and use that awareness to adjust and advance their learning, taking responsibility for their learning. *
Assessment of learning: where assessment informs students and teachers, as well as the broader educational community, of achievement at a certain point in time in order to celebrate success and support continued progress. Assessment must be planned with its purpose in mind. Assessment for, as and of learning all have a role to play in supporting and improving student learning, and must be appropriately balanced.
The most important part of assessment is the interpretation and use of the information that is gathered for its intended purpose. Research and experience show that student learning is best supported when * Instruction and assessment are based on clear learning goals * Instruction and assessment are differentiated according to student learning needs * Students are involved in the learning process (they understand the learning goal and the criteria for quality work, receive and use descriptive feedback, and take steps to adjust their performance). 4. Why is assessment for learning important? Assessment is directly related to pupils’ motivation.
If they are involved in their assessments, they will feel more responsible and empowered to improve their performance. They need to get feedback about learning to keep the interest about their learning on a high level and achieve their best. Assessment is an engine which drives students learning. Assessment is important because of all the decisions you will make about children when working with them. Every day we make decisions before, during and after working with children. Whereas some of these decisions will seem small and inconsequential, others will be “high stakes,” influencing the life course of children. All of our assessment decisions taken as a whole will direct and alter children’s learning outcomes.
Assessment is an integral part of instruction, as it determines whether or not the goals of education are being met. Assessment affects decisions about grades, placement, advancement, instructional needs, curriculum, and, in some cases, funding. Assessments inspire us to ask these hard questions: “”Are students learning what they are supposed to be learning? “
“Is there a way to teach the subject better, thereby promoting better learning? ” Today’s students need to know not only the basic reading and arithmetic skills, but also skills that will allow them to face a world that is continually changing. They must be able to think critically, to analyse, and to make inferences.
Changes in the skills base and knowledge our students need require new learning goals; these new learning goals change the relationship between assessment and instruction. Teachers need to take an active role in making decisions about the purpose of assessment and the content that is being assessed. 5. Explain how assessment for learning can contribute to planning for future learning. Assessment for learning is a part of the teaching and learning process. It is essential for achieving a quality and productive teaching and learning experience. Assessing for learning must have an positive impact on everybody who is involved in learning: pupils, teachers, parents and support staff.
Teachers – assessment for learning allows teachers to share the learning goals with students. Sharing learning goals with pupils will enable the student to be involved in their progress. Teachers can plan activities better for the future if they assess students regularly and are reflective practitioners. It will make their job easier and more satisfactory. Pupils – their assessments inform them about their strong and weak points (to work over). They can develop an ability to analyse assessment criteria and self-assess. It will also result in self-confidence in the future process of learning and awareness of how to learn effectively and when to ask about help.
Parents – it is crucial also for parents to know how their children are assessed and possibly work with children at home to eliminate weak points or to advise school staff how to deal with children in a best way. A child supported by school and home environment will achieve his learning goals faster and overcome problems easier. Supporting staff – teaching assistant’s role is to discover how students learn, assessments for learning will help to do it and question pupils in an appropriate way. It will also help to support children’s learning according to individual needs through differential activities. 6. What information is required to support assessment for learning? To support assessment for learning we need to know:
The learning objectives for the activities (for example, using punctuation in writing in Literacy) The personalised planning for individual learners (for example, using capital letters and full stops in writing in Literacy) The success criteria of the learning activities (for example, pupils can use punctuation in writing correctly and constantly in Literacy) The approaches and techniques used for on-going assessments relevant to a teaching assistant’s role (teachers and teaching assistants check if pupils use punctuation in writing correctly and consistently in their written works) Before the activities starts students must be clearly informed what they are going to learn, why they are learning it and how they will be assessed.
It should be discussed with pupils before the activity begins and they must know specific criteria for every task. Children must know how they are going to be marked and why in this way. Only through practice children will learn to estimate whether learning objectives have been met or not. Being aware of learning objectives is extremely important and being aware of personalised goals as well. Children should integrate them in the learning process. It can be complicated at the beginning, but through years of learning should become a natural automatic process enable children to achieve best possible results.
To help students in their learning adults in school are engaged into a continuous process of improvement. Teaching assistants supporting an assessment process must know how to specify their approaches according to a student’s needs and a particular activity; specify measures; share results with teachers, students, teachers, parents and other staff members; make changes if necessary; identify personalised goals and identify learning objectives. Having this knowledge we can support assessment for learning effectively. 7. What points of good practice should be considered when reviewing pupils ‘progress? Eight points of good practice when reviewing pupils ‘progress: 1.
As a teaching assistant I always try to be sure that learning objectives are clear for pupils and they remember and understand personalised targets so that they can assess their own progress to meeting these as they proceed. 2. I ask my students if they understand what they must do and offer them help if needed (they know a procedure what to do if they are stuck). They have to know why they do these activities. 3. I tell students about assessment criteria and explain them closer what they don’t understand (assessment criteria are usually exposed on the board during every lesson; my role is to explain details about them and be sure students understand them). 4.
I explain students how assessment criteria will be applied to their work showing them examples of other learners’ works (showing before assessed works makes students’ task and the teaching assistant’ job much easier and teach pupils how to compare and be realistic about own achievements). 5. I provide support for pupils who need it and praise them for progress in work which is done; I give them a short feedback about their work to direct their learning. 6.
I provide extension activities for children who work faster and optional activities for children who find their tasks too challenging for some reasons. 7. I encourage students to check and review their work before they consult it with the teacher. 8. I provide students and teachers written feedback.
Students can read their written feedback before it is read by the teacher and try to self-assess themselves or compare their self-assessment with mine. This process helps them to learn how to estimate own work properly according to learning criteria. 8. Identify six points of good practice when providing feedback. Give an example from your own experience of providing constructive feedback to a learner. Feedback is an essential part of learning and teaching. It helps learners to maximise their potential at different stages of learning, raise their awareness of strengths and areas for improvement, and identify actions to be taken to improve performance. If we don’t give pupils feedback, they may think that everything is OK and that there are no areas for improvement.
Learners value feedback, especially when it is given by someone credible who they respect as a role model or for their knowledge, attitudes or competence. Failing to give feedback sends a non-verbal communication in itself and can lead to mixed messages and false assessment by the learner of their own abilities, as well as a lack of trust in the teacher and supporting stuff.
These are six points of good practice when providing feedback: 1. always give information to a pupil which focuses on performance (affirmation feedback – delivered as soon as possible and try to work through one thing at a time) 2. act in a positive way (expose strong points first – praise a student first) 3. be fair, base your feedback on particular facts, not personal feelings 4.
do it regularly informally during everyday practice and formally as a part of written assessments (support your teachers to formulate best possible feedback and provide developmental feedback which will suggest what to do next time to a student) 5. communicate and cooperate with your teachers about your feedback and pupils’ progress (pass necessary information to other members of staff involved and talk to parents) 6. show your interest and involvement in a pupil’s learning process and give feedback in the same manner helping a learner to formulate individual educational goals for the future. Pupils sometimes struggle for a long time with some activities on different levels of their learning and progress is achieved slowly after long hours and even months.
During this time they lose their interest many times and this is a role of the teaching assistant to give a pupil a suitable feedback showing them that in the end they succeed and it was worth trying, and many people can go through similar situations in life so they are not an exception.
When I work individually with a child or a group of children and we still need to continue practising the same problematic area, I always give them positive feedback for their trying and give them examples from own life showing that sometimes we need to put lots of effort for a long time to achieve something. I keep pupils ‘works from first sessions to show them as a comparison later on and they are my base to provide constructive feedback. 9.
Give an example of helping a learner to review their learning strategies, achievements and future learning needs. Helping a learner to review their learning strategies, achievement and future learning needs should be based on their own progress and not with a comparison with others. Helping the learner means teaching him from the level he is on and he can build on what he had learnt before. Each session should start with discussing previous experiences and subject understanding and then introducing new ideas step by step. Students have to know that they can rely on adults supporting them all the time and showing them their faith in students ‘achievements.
Especially learners with low self-esteem need additional support in improving their learning strategies. They need to be praised more often and some tasks should be modified to help them better and faster. To help learners reviewing their learning strategies I analyse individually with children every day the teacher’s comments about their Literacy and Numeracy tasks and support them in correcting their mistakes. First of all, I ensure myself that they understand the teacher’s comments and show them my appreciation for their work and my belief in future improvement. Next step is always to let children correct their works themselves and compare with other earlier works.
It will give them an idea how to do it better in the future. Some children need an additional session outside the classroom 1:1 to finish their tasks or to correct previous ones commented by the teacher. Good explanations and a real understanding is a key for a child to build up the learning strategies for the future. This is my role to provide these explanations to a learner as long as it is necessary in a planned way. 10. How can you listen carefully to learners and encourage them to communicate their needs and ideas for future learning? Pupils need opportunities to be listened. My support for learners is based on watching them and listening them working, discussing, using success criteria. Every
class has usually an established system of verbal and non-verbal communication accepted by everyone. These are elements of communicational system; 1. traffic lights/smiley faces/thumbs up – children can show adults visual sings (holding a traffic light or smiley face) to signalise quickly how they feel about their learning in different points of the session; a red light, sad face or thumbs down are the signs communicating that children struggle to understand. 2. foggy bits – pupils can write down or say the parts of the session which weren’t clear. 3. writing a sentence – pupils write a sentence to summarise their activity or in the key points of their learning. 4.
talk partner activities – children enjoy working with a talking partner because they can openly discuss their learning, everything what is enjoyable or difficult, I usually listen to children carefully when they work in pairs with a talking partner; it is a very efficient and natural way for children to communicate their ideas about learning. 5. whiteboard writing – children use whiteboards very often to organise their knowledge or try something new, or simply practise, they can write down what was easy or what they found hard. These all methods keep me in a position of an active listener and give children many opportunities to express themselves. These methods are a part of the learning process. 11. Outline four important points of good practice to consider when supporting pupils with self-assessment techniques.
Self-assessment techniques help pupils in formulating and achieving future goals. Purposes and outcomes of activities must be always very clear for pupils. If children understand why they learn something, they will probably find it easier to take part in it or simply they will be more eager to be involved. All criteria should be formulated clearly, rather shortly and specific what will help children in self-assessment later on. Self-assessment is more difficult for younger children, but should be practised from early stages to teach children proper habits.
To do it sometimes is easier to use peer assessment as a starting point. Four important points of good practice when supporting pupils with self-assessment techniques: – keep assessment criteria simple – pupils must know what assessment criteria are, usually they exposed in a written form on the board – clarify the purpose of the task – it must be absolutely clear for pupils why they are doing the task – ask pupils to tell you what they think they are doing and why – children must understand why they do the activity;
It is a good idea to ask them if they know what the task is about and why they are doing this – encourage pupils to periodically check learning against the criteria – pupils should be encouraged to check their criteria during the activity regularly, not only at the end of the task.
Courtney from Study Moose
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