With thanks to the media frenzy following wikileaks in the past few months it is difficult to escape the word transparency. I noticed through Twitter there were many articles about how you should be transparent in your business and after reading a few of these it got me thinking about how transparent we are in education.
Of course, with the sensitive nature of our ‘business’ we need to keep some information to ourselves. But when I examined how much information I keep to myself (not deliberately, but I had just never thought about sharing it) and how this information could actually help learning in our classroom, I decided I needed to make a few changes this year.
Assessment: Yes I have always shared results to any assessment with the students but I have been remiss in explaining why I did it and what I learnt from their assessment. So this week when I sat down to do running records with students, I explained exactly why I was doing it, what I hoped to find out and how this would help them. I plan to have a one on one interview with students when all of the assessment is completed and share what I found out, what I am going to do with the information and to set goals in partnership with the students.
VELS: I use this to guide my teaching and I realised students and parents have limited understanding of it. We use it to set goals but do my kids really understand what an interpersonal goal is? This week I shared VELS with them. We looked at the orgin of the strand names and likened these to umbrellas. The kids then pasted the domains under each umbrella and made suggestions of what we learn in each of these areas. It was interesting to see that students had a great understanding of PE, English and Mathematics but didn’t realise that our personal learning and how we manage our learning was essential also. I knew that this was a great lesson for the kids when the very next day one student asked, ‘How does this fit into VELS?’
Parents: I know that I work in partenrship with parents but rarely get the opportunity to ask them about their child. At the beginning of this year I have sent home a ‘Getting to know your child‘ form asking questions about the parents feelings on their child. (What personalities they have, what do they feel are their child’s strengths, improvements they would like to see, etc)
I am also going to use email as a form of keeping my parents ‘in the loop’ this year. I find it is a great way to send a quick message to parents or to share a great piece of learning their child has done. This will be complimented by a fortnightly newsletter to be emailed and sent home with a glossary of the terms we are using, what we have been learning and a list of questions they could ask their children.
Scrutiny: Although I find I am a good reflector in the classroom, I rarely ask the students for authentic feedback on me. So already this year I have been asking the students questions like; What did I do to help you learn today? Which lesson did you understand better, yesterday’s or todays? What made it easier to understand? I hope that throughout the year students can be honest with me and offer feedback to help them learn better.
What does transparency look like in your classroom?
How do you communicate with parents?
Please leave a comment and share your views on transparency.