Sunday, September 12, 2010

He who asks questions cannot avoid the answers.

Guest Blogger Shannon Johnston is a teacher with 20 years experience teaching K-12 in Canada and overseas in Japan and the Philippines. She lives on Saltspring Island with her wonderful husband and three active fun kids. This year she is starting a new position in an Alternative Ed school teaching K-3. She is excited about the possibilities of connecting her own recent schooling at VIU in TLCP (Teacher Leadership Certification Program) and SETS (Special Education Diploma) to a unique classroom environment. When not in school, or hiking with her kids, she is a Pilates instructor and Group Fitness Leader as well. She loves being active and alive! She live with the philosophy of Carpe Diem ~ seize the moment! Life is a gift, treasure it!

At the end of the summer, I spent a weekend asking deep-layered ‘Assessment’ questions. I leave feeling inspired and challenged. Will my practice change? Likely- though in small do-able bite size ways. Will my thinking change? Absolutely. The lens I view Assessment with has altered. Really chewing on deep beliefs and values challenged my own biases and personal tendencies. Though some may view this as threatening I actually embrace the idea. I love thinking about my thinking…and isn’t that what we want of our learners? We want, indeed we need, critical thinkers who challenge life and challenge themselves to look at things differently. This weekend has opened that long hidden box of personal values and beliefs attached to ‘assessment’.

As a Type A ‘people pleaser’ I recognize that I give myself value by what others perceive me as…in other words, I try to perform my way through life for extrinsic rewards from others. Recognizing that now and watching my own daughter follow my footsteps in trying to please everyone all the time is evidence that this is not what I want to pass on to her… or to any of my students. What a burden to place on small shoulders. I feel convicted. I want to do life (and assessment) differently. I need to… for her sake, for others and for myself.

Being cognizant of ‘Fixed Mindsets’ as compared to ‘Growth Mindsets’ is the first step. Examining my beliefs and practices in a real way, moving from lip service to heart is gong to take time and effort. Slipping back in to old thought patterns would be easy and natural when the pressures of life and school start back up next week. My goal and hope is that to be ‘aware’ when jumping back into the ‘chaos’ is the first step… and a critical one I intend to do. In my own way this is the ‘desirable difficulty’ I set for myself ~ to continue to think about my own thinking regarding assessment and performance. Thank you for stretching my thinking… and my heart.

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