Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Transforming Past Practice

The art of teaching, much like the pursuit of being a lifelong musician, is a continuously evolving work in progress. Both fields require time to practice, reflect, problem-solve, listen, create, and re-approach the work in the interest of greater understanding, finesse, and artistry. In pursuing my master’s degree, I have been given ample opportunity and encouragement to examine my own teaching, research learners through the lens of current society and future challenges, and to be brave and honest enough to take new risks and be unafraid to shed what isn’t useful in the way I have taught in the past. In fact, it is a long term goal of mine to someday be teaching future music educators at the college level, so I am motivated to seek out what are truly the best practices and techniques I can use in an ever-changing technological world. And above all, like every teacher, I want to be making a meaningful difference in the lives of students I teach. Not only in finding ways to make the kinds of musical learning they do at school relevant to their lives outside of the school day, but to be active in having a residual effect that will encourage them to become lifelong, independent learners and musicians.

Asking students to participate in the process of designing grading systems and assessments to identify quality work will be one of the newest risks I look forward to taking with my project-based learning practice. It’s not an idea that had occurred to me before, as I have always been the sole designer of rubrics and other types of assessments. After all, I am the resident expert in music, right? But am I the expert on how they might be able to recognize quality work, establish desired learning dispositions, and be able to articulate their own thinking on the process of their learning? What better way to value the power of their minds and the importance of their voice in their journey of learning? I welcome the challenge.


  1. We're actually debating the value of student-led assessment in my current instructional design class.

    One of the things that really resonates for me is the idea that involving students in assessment pushes them a little higher up Bloom's hierarchy, since you need to understand things well in order to test them.

    Here's my hope: let's start asking our students to help design the assessments--and then integrate the assessment throughout the teaching, not just at the end. That way it can truly be formative assessment, helping them to learn better, rather than a summative assessment for grading and NCLB purposes.

    I don't know if you saw the thing about the teacher survey on my blog, but if you didn't--the results are posted now. Talk to you soon!

  2. I couldn't agree more... in fact, I have already made concrete plans (as a result of taking this class in project based learning this week) to have my high school students actively co-create the assessments we'll be using right from the beginning.

    Reflecting on what I have 'allowed' students to do as far as bring personal interest, prior knowledge, and ideas on what we should study, I was shocked (and a little embarassed) that I have in fact, never let them have a hand in creating the assessments they have used.

    I'm ridiculously excited about the major transformations my teaching will experience in the guitar class I'll be starting in the fall. I look forward to the curriculum development class I'm starting Monday, where I predict we'll talk even more about the idea of cocurricular practices.

    And yes... I saw the survey results and am thrilled to see what a high percentage of music teachers are making a difference in people's lives! Keep me posted!