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  • Writer's picturemartinthomasemo

I've learnt more in 4 weeks of study, than 12 years of teaching.

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

Whilst most teachers have been enjoying a well-earned break in December and January, I’ve been busy working on the first three papers of a Masters in Education in E-Learning which I am undertaking this year. I've had to Be Boring as Austin Kleon states in his book in order to get things done.

Photo credit of a page from Austin Kleon's book 'Steal Like an Artist' @austinkleon

In this blog post I’ll talk about three topics that I’ve been thinking about as the sun was shining.

1. I learnt more in the first 4 weeks of my study than I have in my 12 years of teaching. Really? Well, amongst the jazz band practices, classroom teaching and report writing I’ve never had the time to sit back and think about what is actually the point of assessment? What are the implications of continuing to assess Music in a paper-based exam, when many students learn via a device? I have to teach students the skill of using manuscript paper (staves on a page), with a pencil, for the sole purpose of completing the Level 1, 2 or 3 exams. The alignment of how a subject, or NCEA standard is taught and learned influences how it should be assessed, as misalignment of assessment and teaching can compromise the meaning of assessment results (Griffin, McGaw, & Esther, 2012). Are our current external exams a valid reflection of the skills and abilities of our students?

2. For a recent assignment, I reviewed five studies of the effect of flipped learning. Each study had one ‘control’ class, and one ‘flipped’ class. The results were surprising as an overall analysis seemed to indicate that the quality, facilitation and the success of the ‘flip’ was strongly influenced by the underlying teaching pedagogy of the teacher. Just flipping a class doesn’t cognate improved student achievement. However, the introduction of flipped learning to a teacher, encouraged them to reflect and develop a stronger teaching pedagogy.

3. Finally, in looking at effective formative feedback, I came across an interesting study. In Israel, groups of 11-year-old students were given feedback in three different ways during various stages of their studies. The first group were only given written comments, the second group only grades, and the third group both grades and written comments. The study found that the grades improved the most for the comments only group, and interestingly both of the other groups showed the same relatively low results. Meaning that combining grades with a comment removes the advantage normally present by only giving a comment. This is only one study, but it raises some points to ponder.

Whilst I’m still shy of my first 100 days, and quite short of the 280 days till I finish, I’m confident that I’m going to have a great time diving into study and encourage any of you, to seek opportunities to study further. Be it one paper at a time like the majority of my fellow students, or apply for grants like mine, from the PPTA.

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