I want to challenge today's readers with the sentence: "It remains for us to see student learning." What are we observing in student learning? Are we able to observe or are we relying too much on a quick look followed by our assumptions about that learning? The assumption teachers make is that we know what and how students are learning from the briefest of glances.
Now I know that good teachers can accurately assess on the fly, but I am challenging us today to really take a closer, more in depth look at student learning. And to help us do that, I would suggest that any professional development start with "observation." A more organized approach to understanding student learning might start with asking, "What are we looking for?," and a follow-up question, "When we see students act, how does that relate to their learning?"
As we look at students more closely, our own assumptions seem to come apart, like a curtain, to reveal more nuanced and more accurate ways of seeing and assessing student learning. This new information can lead us to re-tool our next teaching moment, and re-purpose our work with classrooms, into instructional leadership that is based on our own more accurate observation and assessment of student learning. It is the kind of change that makes students think we really know who they are, and how they learn. It propels them to engage with us. It makes us really relevant.
I noticed that a conference last May had a wonderful list of all the people who attended from around the country and for whom, professional development in arts integration was the number one reason to learn as adults! Check them out by looking at the list and following up by googling their names on the web: Southeast Center for Education in the Arts; THE ROLE OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN FACILITATING THE PRACTICE OF ARTS INTEGRATION (May 1-3, 2008 @ The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga) participant list.
Happy Halloween means it is time to enter a really cool arts contest! The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers invites students in grades 7 - 12 to participate in The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of 2009, the nation's longest-running, largest, most prestigious recognition program for creative teenagers in the visual and literary arts. Help get your students into this!
Also, don't forget to visit my article on arts integration needs a community, for more on arts work we are doing all over the country. Spook ya later.