07 out 2014 Attitude regarding students’ work
I got a message one of these days which said “No matter what’s happening. CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY. Don’t focus on what’s wrong. Find something positive in your life!” by Joel Osteen, and that made think about being a teacher and assessing students.
We have just had our mid-term tests in the school and that’s the time we have formal tests, we correct them, we make a balance of their performance up to now in the semester, give feedback to students and concentrate our efforts on possible remedial work with them if necessary.
When I read ‘no matter what’s happening’ I thought of the results of the tests. They could have been excellent or not, but it gives all the stakeholders a picture of the learning goals achieved, of what’s happening. So, let’s make the best of it – let’s ‘choose to be happy’, let’s choose to see these results as valuable information on our teaching and students’ learning, after all there is still the rest of the semester to put things back in place.
‘Don’t focus on what’s wrong’, serves us right for the fact that a students shouldn’t only be measured by their errors, but on the analysis of their strengths and weaknesses in order to provide a clear and effective study programme for development.
‘Find something positive in your life’ regards our feedback to students. I believe most people have a tendency to overrate mistakes and problems. The comments are usually on what was wrong, on what was bad… I, myself, find it very hard not to find at least one positive characteristic in a person – sometimes you have to look really carefully, but you end up finding something. So, whenever giving feedback, jot down the good and bad points, content the student has acquired properly, attitude which could be praised and, of course, content to be worked more, behaviour to be changed, perhaps.
From my point of view, I see students’ attitude towards assessment closely related to teachers’ beliefs and actions regarding this matter. If the teacher puts pressure on failures, I find it difficult for the student to recover. On the other hand, if the teacher clearly shows the students that not all is lost, not everything is wrong, chances are that this student, who is obviously a human being with all the psychological implications, may put an extra effort to overcome whatever problems he or she might have had.
I will finish by adapting the quote to suit my purpose as a teacher: “No matter what’s the result of the test. CHOOSE TO BE AN EDUCATOR. Don’t only focus on what’s wrong. Find something positive in your students’ work and give them a constructivist feedback!”