Director’s Corner: Supporting Teaching Teams as a Leader
The Division for Early Childhood recommends that programs establish the following assessment practices (in bold):
Practitioners work as a team with the family and other professionals to gather assessment information. Leaders can help teachers build relationships with families and other professionals by acting as a facilitator, identifying common goals, and assisting teachers with preparing for meetings and conversations. Encourage staff to build communication skills through ongoing professional development and recognize efforts to connect with families, regardless of the outcome. Working with families and professionals outside of the program may be intimidating. Help teachers understand that they possess valuable information about children that families and professionals want to know.
Practitioners use assessment materials and strategies that are appropriate for the child′s age and level of development and accommodate the child′s sensory, physical, communication, cultural, linguistic, social, and emotional characteristics. Leaders should spend time evaluating assessment tools and methods to ensure that they are comprehensive and appropriate for the age/level of the children in each group. Encourage teachers to make adjustments when it is discovered that a particular tool does not meet these criteria. Sometimes, a child’s developmental level will warrant the use of assessment tools that are designed for children of a different age. Help teachers make these determinations on a case by case basis.
Practitioners conduct assessments that include all areas of development and behavior to learn about the child′s strengths, needs, preferences, and interests. Whether the program is using a published assessment tool or tools that were created in-house, the tools should measure all areas of child development and help teachers learn more about children’s interests. Work with teachers to identify any gaps in what the current assessment tools capture to be sure teachers are getting a full picture of each child’s abilities and interests. Brainstorm ways that teachers can capture missing pieces as they conduct observations and evidence of learning throughout each month.
Practitioners conduct assessments in the child′s dominant language and in additional languages if the child is learning more than one language. Working with children in their home language can be a challenge for teachers who do not speak that language. Consider ways that teachers who speak the child’s home language can conduct formal and informal assessments. This will produce the most valid picture of the child’s abilities.
Practitioners use a variety of methods, including observation and interviews, to gather assessment information from multiple sources, including the child′s family and other significant individuals in the child′s life. Work with your team to identify all of the tools and methods of assessment they currently use. Encourage teachers to share their assessment strategies with others to ensure that multiple methods of assessment are used across the program. Help teachers create checklists and surveys for families to complete periodically to gather their observations of their children. These family tools can be adapted from the tools that teachers are using with some revisions to the words used to make the tools family-friendly.
Practitioners implement systematic ongoing assessments to identify learning targets, plan activities, and monitor the child′s progress to revise instruction as needed. Work with teachers to identify specific opportunities to adapt curriculum or the learning environment or materials based on the assessment data they are collecting. With all of the tasks that teachers have to complete, it is understandable that close analysis of assessment data is sometimes neglected. Schedule regular meetings with teachers and review their assessment data. Encourage teachers to highlight on their lesson plans the decisions they make that are directly based on assessment data. Recognize those teachers who consistently use assessment data to inform decisions and ask them to share their strategies with their colleagues.
Practitioners report assessment results so that they are understandable and useful to families. Meet with teachers prior to family-teacher conferences or other family meetings to review the assessment data collected and create a plan for sharing the information. This might include creating a list of questions to ask families or role playing how the teacher will approach a delicate conversation with a family. Review written reports to ensure they are clearly written and include practical strategies that families can use at home.
Consider creating a reflection tool based on the statements in bold above. Ask your staff or teaching teams to reflect on their current practices and compare them to the list. As a group, brainstorm strategies that will match your team’s skills and resources. Generate ideas with your team to create buy-in, and as always, provide professional development to support your teachers’ needs.
For the main article Child Assessment, CLICK HERE
For the article Making Teaching Decisions, CLICK HERE
For the article Identifying Concerns, CLICK HERE
For the article Making Program Improvements, CLICK HERE