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Supplying Assessment for Learning

Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools through Protocol Education in Manchester. Miranda shares some wonderful tips for supply teachers to effectively incorporate Assessment for Learning (AFL) in the one-off lessons they cover. 

Assessment for Learning (or every day assessment) is a big deal now in primary teaching and is now firmly wedged in the mainstream. It’s clear now with the all-over freshness of hindsight, that AFL used to be a bit of a bolt-on - a few fancy leftfield moves with which to court Ofsted’s most positive attentions. A smiley face and a thumbs up here, a highlighted piece of writing and a pile of lolly sticks there. 

But working in different schools, and with diverse teachers’ lesson plans, I’m now noticing that schools are getting their heads around the real principals of day-to-day assessment, and bedding them more deeply into their practice.

Wherever I go, I’m asked to facilitate talk partners, quizzes, share activities and apparently ‘impromptu’ discussions to assess pupil progress in the middle of lessons, so I can re-shape my teaching accordingly. This is all great, children in schools where AFL has sunk down to the core, appear bright and switched on, confident and enabled. They are not just flogging through the day, hour by hour, lesson by lesson -  they can see the big picture.

However (and you know me by now… there is always a however), what is a daily a supply teacher to do with AFL, especially if working from her own plans? Most of us are magic and can produce whizzy and very fine stand-alone lessons from our bags of tricks. But for a one-off lesson, it feels quite a feat to: ‘grow a learning culture which represents a dialogue between leaner and teacher, where not just knowledge is imparted, but transferable skills in line with the challenges and demands of the world beyond the classroom.’  

Here are a couple of basic tips for keeping AFL in the mix of a one-off supply lesson:

  • Assess where the children are at, at the beginning. Ask them to tell you about what they’ve learned in recent science lessons, for example. Children are usually enthusiastic about this, as they love to think they know more than you do! This will buy you time to consider possible ways of differentiating your lesson to better suit the group.  
  • ‘Talk partners’ are easy and a great way to make sure everyone has a voice. I like to encourage peer marking, which is often a less hurtful affair when given verbally. Ask children to look at their partner’s work in line with your ‘success criteria’ and learning objective. Set ground rules for respecting others’ efforts and ask them to make one practical suggestion for improving their partners’ work. This can take as long as you like.
  • Make time and space for personal reflection and for children to read through their work and make improvements.
  • Ask pairs to consider the ‘muddiest point’ of your lesson and a question about the work, which still needs answering.  Put pairs together and see if the children can answer one another’s questions. Feed remaining questions and answers into your plenary.
  • If your lesson closes earlier than expected, children in a class that is fluent in AFL can look back at the previous day’s work, make an entry in their learning journals or change work according to suggestions already marked up in their books. 

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Tags: Miranda, Protocol-Education, AFL, Assessment, learning, supply, lesson, ideas,

Category: Australian Teachers

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