6 How can you encourage reflective practice with TESSA activities through the kinds of assessment you use? [Assessment]
It’s important to remember that things that are assessed are considered important by teachers, so it’s worth thinking about good ways of giving credit for teachers’ efforts to use the TESSA materials with their pupils. But it’s key that the type of assessment you choose supports the type of learning the TESSA materials encourage. Assessment doesn’t necessarily have to be graded, but a task that is required helps the teacher to pause and think about their experiences, learning and how they can improve. When your teachers have taught a lesson using one or more TESSA activities, you could then use this simple task:
Write a brief description of what you (the teacher) did and what the pupils did during the activity.
Now that you have responded to these questions, how do you, the teacher, feel about the activity and the way in which you used it?
The National Commission for Colleges of Education in Nigeria developed a series of pre-service teacher manuals for student teachers preparing for micro-teaching and teaching practice. The five manuals have a focus on activity-learning through the use of diverse participatory, interactive, cooperative and collaborative strategies, and complement academic and methodological components of NCE courses. Each booklet contains nine sample tasks linking TESSA activities with the Nigerian nine-year basic education curriculum. The TESSA extracts include learning outcomes (the teaching skills teachers will develop through undertaking the activity), the activity to undertake with pupils, a case study and supporting resources. Teachers are encouraged to think about how they will modify the TESSA activity when developing their own lesson plan. Following the lesson, teachers are required to evaluate their lesson through answering a small number of questions, for example ‘Did the practical activities generate interest or excitement among your pupils?’ ‘Give an example of one part of the lesson that you would have handled differently. How would you have done this?’
The Open University of Tanzania has built reflective questions into written course assignments for teachers.
These reflections, as well as reports on classroom observation of your teachers from peers or mentors/supervisors could be collected into a portfolio.
In some institutions, student teachers do not have a final examination at all. At the end of the year, they present the evidence of their own and their learners’ work contained in their portfolios to their own lecturers/ tutors, as well as external examiners.
At the University of Fort Hare (South Africa), lecturers in the B Ed (in-service) programme decided to encourage teachers to build portfolios of their work. The system works like this: teachers do activities throughout the semester. During their contact sessions, they share their work and assess themselves and each other. Some activities are also handed in to the tutors for assessment before being included in their portfolios.
At the end of each semester, teachers come together for ‘affirmation’ sessions. They present their portfolios and justify their work to their colleagues, their tutors and often outside moderators as well. This oral justification, together with the portfolio itself, is the basis for a negotiated decision on whether the teacher progresses to the next level of the programme. Also considered is their participation in the course, their ability to reflect on their experiences, and evidence of the impact of their work on their own learners.
You could also encourage your teachers to present their work to a broader audience through a conference presentation, a workshop with fellow teachers, or an article in a professional journal.