Ran into a blog by Justin Tarte on some of the qualities of a good teacher. I didn’t really quibble with much of what he had to say, although sometimes these kinds of lists make me uncomfortable. I have met a lot of incredible educators, and they all brought their very unique selves to the profession. However, most of the points were general enough to work.
There was one that got my attention, however. It is not that I disagree with the idea, but I stumbled when I got the word, easily.
Easily. Hmmmm…. Okay, pushing thinking, yes. Asking questions and getting students thinking more deeply, yes. Getting a room talking, sure. Getting a room discussing in a skilled manner, and then assessing that skill, not that easy. This is one area that I have struggled with over the years. It is not as simple as it might seem. Some students are reticent. Some talk too much. Some students can be cruel. The age of the group can play a role, for sure. It takes community-building to enable students to be vulnerable and real. As I have written before, not all groups are created equally. Some groups are more ready than others to have a conversation.
In English Language Arts in BC, we need to be able to assess this skill. Oral Language is supposed to comprise something like 20% of their mark. If we are assessing it, it must also be taught. That part I have done, and I have no problem thinking of different ways to bring students to the concepts of good communication. The assessment is where I run into trouble.
Even when I do have a group that is respectful and will talk, I am often circulating, pushing thinking, sometimes dealing with a behaviour issue. How can I assess this regularly enough to have something valid to say on a report card?
I’d be very grateful if anyone has some assistance on this.