Evaluating Student Work: A Different Perspective

During our last session, we used a set of protocols to evaluate student work. It was a valuable activity that, in that moment, served its purpose. However, it left a few wondering the same thing we often do after even the most engaging professional development sessions-"how can I rationalize the implementation of this back at school?". Here's my answer. The value of these protocols far exceeds a structured approach to evaluating a student's work.

My first thought was how much I was actually listening, and not just waiting for my turn to speak. With the protocol we chose, we spoke in a round table discussion format with the presenting teacher just listening. It was through this format that I also realized how much everyone brings something to the table. In this group of varying grade levels and content areas, I stood out with my own strengths rather than blending in. The linguist in me pointed out a speech issue that allowed the presenter to refocus her perspective and see the work through that lens. It's a refreshing reminder that we all have something to contribute.

Some may question the practicality of taking 45 minutes to look at one student's work. I say it's a worthwhile investment because it's not actually about grading the student work at all. It's about giving the teacher the feedback and igniting a new spark, or giving her a different lens to look through. The idea is that she then takes that and transfers it to the rest of her students' work, because a refreshed teacher armed with new perspectives is what will ultimately advance powerful student learning.

Jennifer Campbell
Middletown High School