Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Year-end Self Assessments

Assess much?!  

Of course you do!  Formative, summative, state testing, completing student progress folders...by this time of year, you are probably feeling rather "assessed out."

However, there is one more assessment you that will provide you with a wealth of information about yourself, your students, and how you can improve your teaching:  self-assessments.

We assess our students, the state or another standardized test assesses our students, but what about allowing them to assess themselves?  Middle school students (as we are so keenly aware) have opinions!  And they appreciate the opportunity to express them.  When you provide your students with a chance to step back and honestly look at what they've accomplished this year, they will discover that they actually did learn something this year!

Looking Back

I set aside a class period to allow students to reflect on what they've accomplished this year.  Begin with a class brainstorming session.  What were the big concepts they learned?  What writing assignments or projects did they complete?  What goals did students work toward?  What special skills did they focus on this year?  What new technology did they learn or use?  What review games or activities did you use?  Encourage students to refer to their planners to jog their memories -- and create a big list on your board.  (It is helpful if you create your own list ahead of time to help them remember!)

If your students kept portfolios or journals, give them time to look through their work.  One year, I had a student hold up a paper that she'd written at the beginning of the year and exclaim, "I can't believe I wrote that!"  She could see that her writing skills had improved!

Once you have your list and students have looked through journals or portfolios, provide them with a list of questions.  You can use the questions I've created in my free year-end resource, or you can create your own list.  I wanted my questions to be positive, so I stayed away from questions like "What did you like the least?" (Why are those the questions that are always so easy to answer?!)

Why This Works

1.  Students respond really well to this.  You think you might get some unkind comments since it's anonymous, but students appreciate the opportunity to give you an opinion.  This is especially nice for the quiet students who may never complain or compliment. This is a way for all students to speak their minds. 

2.  Students can stop and look at how they've grown.  This little activity provides a wealth of self-confidence -- like my student who couldn't believe the difference between her writing at the beginning and end of the year.

3.  This helps me plan for the next year.  We can usually tell when an assignment is a bomb or the students really hate something, but we often don't know what they enjoyed.  

4.  The list you will create during the brainstorming session alone will give you a tremendous boost.  Take a picture of it and send it home to parents in a year-end email!  Your students worked hard this year! Share that picture with your administrators as well, and save it to share for next year's "meet the teacher" night!  

What's Next?

You probably have done your own self-evaluations in preparation of teacher evaluations with your administrator.  Consider completing your own year end self-assessment that is for your eyes only.  You can use the one I have in my free year-end resource if you like, or just take out a sheet of paper and write down what went well this year and what you'd like to change next year.  

Tuck that self-eval in your desk or planning book -- or somewhere else you'll find next fall when you return to your classroom.  It's like sending a message to your future self!!

Plato said, "An unexamined life is not worth living."  And certainly, both students and educators will benefit by taking time to examine what we've done, how we've grown, and where we can improve.   

Enjoy the last few weeks of school, and don't forget to learn from this year!

Happiness always♥

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