I was talking with a colleague recently about formative assessment (which someone I read a couple of months ago correctly re-phrased as formative feedback) and we were discussing the amazing tools available to all of us in the teaching profession in today's world - Socrative, Poll Everywhere, Google Forms, Geddit, Padlet, TinyChat, Chatzy, Today's Meet, etc. (The final 4 provide opportunities for quick student responses/thoughts that have the potential to give you as much insight into your students' understanding as the first 4 I listed; hence they are perfect ways to gain formative feedback.) As I was thinking a bit more about the concept of formative feedback, I realized how utterly essential it is for teachers to be skilled "readers" of their students' reactions to their teaching. As a topic is presented, no matter what form the teaching takes, it is crucial for teachers to be constantly assessing their students.
The Danielson Model addresses this teacher skill in Domain 3, Elements 3d and 3e. In order for a teacher to fall in the "Distinguished" Category ("Excellent" in Illinois) the following descriptors apply:
"3d: Assessment is fully integrated into instruction, through extensive use of formative assessment. Students appear to be aware of, and there is some evidence that they have contributed to, the assessment criteria. Questions and assessments are used regularly to diagnose evidence of learning by individual students. A variety of forms of feedback, from both teacher and peers, is accurate and specific and advances learning. Students self-assess and monitor their own progress. The teacher successfully differentiates instruction to address individual students’ misunderstandings.
3e: The teacher seizes an opportunity to enhance learning, building on a spontaneous event or students’ interests, or successfully adjusts and differentiates instruction to address individual student misunderstandings. Using an extensive repertoire of instructional strategies and soliciting additional resources from the school or community, the teacher persists in seeking effective approaches for students who need help."
[Danielson, Charlotte. The Framework for Teaching: Evaluation Instrument. Princeton, NJ: Danielson Group, 2013. Print.]
Formative assessment is a crucial aspect of teaching. It strikes me as one of the true strengths of the Danielson Model given that most previous evaluation models/tools included only minor (if any) teacher evaluative feedback relating to the teachers' use of formative assessment. Looking back, it is a bit amazing to me that we somehow failed to recognize the significance of formative feedback for all of those years. Why were there not always evaluative criteria related to formative feedback in all teacher evaluations?