The eighth and final blog post in the Practices series looks at Assessment for learning and transitions. If you missed any, why not go back to the archives and have a look. Next week I will start exploring the Principles. Here are 5 tips to help with this practice …
- Build your own professional knowledge: The more confident and skilled you are as an educator the easier it will be to assess children’s learning and identify ways to support this in your curriculum. This knowledge can come through formal study, professional development, research, networking, or mentoring. Without a commitment to continuous improvement of your own knowledge your ideas can become stagnant and there can be issues in seeing how children are demonstrating their learning and how to use this to design the curriculum. Particularly if you studied prior to the NQF coming into affect where there was a much more prescriptive approach to assessment and curriculum decisions.
- Understand each child as an individual: In order to assess children’s learning it is important to recognise that they will demonstrate this in their own ways and may use resources in very different ways than you had planned. This is a valuable tool to support your assessment for learning as it can allow you to modify and change the curriculum based on how the children engaged, instead of seeing it as a failure because they didn’t engage the way you had planned.
- Assess children holistically and in a strength based approach: All children have strengths and capabilities they can bring to the curriculum and it is up to us as educators to design a program that supports these. Therefore we need to build relationships and connections with each child to find out how best to support them to connect to learning in ways that are practical and meaningful for the individual child. Sometimes we can design a curriculum that supports the needs of the educators and their strengths, and then expect children to fit within this and wonder why they struggle. Assessing the learning opportunities on offer for children to engage in holistic and inclusive experience will help children to feel valued and build their sense of belonging which in turn will allow for better assessment of their skills and abilities as they engage with the program at a deeper level.
- Use your assessments to drive curriculum decisions: Your assessments on how children learn, how they engage with the experiences and environment, how the routine works, how your resources allow for holistic learning can all then be used as tools for modifying your curriculum. Some children may prefer or need more structured activities to help them to feel confident and engage. Others may need more open ended and child directed experiences to allow them to develop their creativity, investigation and planning.
- Reflect on your practices as part of your assessment: It is not only the children that should be assessed to ensure that learning opportunities are maximised, but also the role of the educators. It can be easy to just look at the children and assess them, however for a truly reflective and valuable curriculum the role of the educator and the impact this has on the children’s ability to engage or feel secure and emotionally supported must be assessed. A really easy way to achieve this is to look back at the other practices blog posts and assess how your role supports or inhibits learning, whether there are areas that could be enhanced or modified to create a more meaningful and child directed program and routine based on these assessments.
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