Connecting the Dots: What Does it All Mean?

In a way my coursework at Harvard has felt very therapeutic. Just having time to think and reflect on my teaching and education in general has been a positive experience, but at the same time my classes have helped me think about specific aspects of my experience in the classroom.

My course on Teacher Quality helped place my own experiences with training, induction, mentoring, and evaluation into the larger context of national trends in education policy. Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Learning helped me think about missed opportunities for leadership in my own classroom, my schools and New York City's entire school system. Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot's class, Ecology of Education, helped me think about the role my own identity and culture played in my teaching.

As I've read, discussed and reflected upon different areas of education at times it's been frustrating and at other times cathartic. Sometimes I've found it difficult to concentrate on my reading as my mind drifts to my own experiences, but ultimately I've benefited from the opportunity to connect the various challenges of teaching to one another and to the bigger picture of education.

It's fitting then that this last semester one of my classes focuses on the topic that dominated much of my teaching for four years: testing. Testing took over my instruction. Testing loomed over my evaluations and tenure process. Testing cast a shadow over my feelings of self efficacy.

So, it's about time I got to the bottom of it all. What's the point of testing? What can tests tell us and what can't tests tell us? What about the tests we used in New York City in particular? To use the language Dr. Koretz is teaching us, were these tests "valid" or "reliable"? Perhaps if I can answer these questions I can answer some final lingering questions about my time in the classroom.


Popular Posts