We recently caught up with Christopher Hull, a 7th grade social studies teacher in Chicago, to talk about how he uses data from assessments in his classroom.
What are your core beliefs about education?
I have some core philosophies that inform every aspect of my teaching. One of them is honesty. It is important for teachers to be honest with students and for students to be honest with themselves. If you are in the dark or blind to something that is really a weakness, you have no way of improving it.
How do you know when the best learning has occurred in your classroom?
The way you see that is being able to capture as many elements as needed: having conversations and getting observational evidence, and by looking at end of unit and district-wide assessments, to see, based upon standards, how did each student do?
How do you define assessment?
For me, assessment is the gathering and interpreting of evidence to make judgments about student learning.
In your experience, how can assessments support effective instruction?
It can be hard for teachers to let go of the idea of teaching as an art form. Although I think teachers are exceptionally gifted at observational evaluations of learning in the classroom, we need to use assessments as proof and to see elements that may have been overlooked.
There is an art form to seeing and assessing learning in the classroom, but we need assessment data to truly understand. Assessment must be your anchor and your truth.
Do you discuss assessment data with colleagues or in any Professional Learning Communities?
The learning management system we use allows us to have standards that are cross-curricular, and which we can link to the Common Core State Standards. This enables us to look collectively at students’ learning analytically over time.
Our principal has encouraged us to have conversations about the student data every week. So, we look at class assessments weekly to see student learning at a more granular level.