Looking at student work: Are you snorkeling or scuba diving?

6a010536aec25c970b01b8d1bd2b17970cTeachers looking together at student work seems like a surefire way to improve teaching and learning, as teachers look at real artifacts and reflect on expectations, practices, and results. However, as with most things in education, success depends not on what teachers do but how they do it, write Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein in this month’s Research Says column in Educational Leadership.

When teachers look at student work, are they just skimming the surface or diving deeply into what the work shows students—and even teachers themselves—are thinking about during the learning process? To take that dive, research shows three conditions need to be in place:

  •  Be tough on practices, not people. Teachers must trust each other in order to expose their struggles and failures, and they must be willing to be truthful in order to see results.
  • Focus on student thinking. Many collaborative conversations end up being about proving students learned and teachers did their jobs; in contrast, effective collaborative inquiry moves beyond whether students “got it” to what they were thinking
  • Encourage self-reflection. Analyzing student work has little benefit unless teachers also step back and reflect on their own work and assumptions.

Read the entire column.

Posted by McREL International.

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