Tuesday, October 25, 2016


How do you get feedback for your job?  How do you learn to become a better educator?  Early in my teaching career my answers would have been isolated to the formal Rube Goldbergian teacher evaluation system.  I believed that if I followed all the procedures in this step by step process, then by default I became a better educator and received enough feedback.

“I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better.” - Maya Angelou

As a connected educator, I now gain feedback daily which helps me grow and learn in collaborative formats through Twitter, Flipboard, virtual learning walks, Voxer book studies, and other personalized PD.  This year I am trying a new way to get feedback through #ObserveMe by posting my personal goals on my door (as seen below).  As an administrator, I still get to participate in the formal feedback from professional evaluation, but I am also asking teachers to help me with some informal feedback by observing me in the hallways, in meetings, and in their own classrooms.  In this way, I am hoping everyone in our building can help me reach my goals and learn from my mistakes in real time.  We all win when we participate in this learning together.

Here is the sign on my door!

Bill Wietman
Assistant Principal at Wachter
@wwietman on Twitter
wwietman on Voxer

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Assessment Academy 2.0 - Who’s in?

I’ll be honest.  I wasn’t sure if it would work.  Who is, really, when trying something new?  Wait, rewind a little.  If you’re not familiar with the Assessment Academy, I’ll lay out the general plan:  
  1. Let’s ask busy, busy teachers to participate in planning a summer workshop around innovative assessment practices that we only have limited understanding and experience with. Some growth mindset will definitely be required.
  2. Then, let’s package it into a blended environment to offer a flexible schedule that allows participants to choose when and how it is best for them to engage with the workshops (and maybe model some tech applications at the same time),
  3. But also, let’s make sure that we build in time to directly apply our new learning in a meaningful way to projects and units that we are already teaching.  It’s one thing to learn, but taking the risk to try something new with students, and being open to working through new classroom practices, takes some courage.
  4. Heck, while we’re at it, why not build in some peer feedback and revision, and ask participants to share their work in its most vulnerable stages before it’s finished.
  5. Just one more thing -- we’ve got one semester to get it together so that it can be implemented over the summer.

RU Mind Map.jpg

A mind map from the summer academy injecting feedback and self-assessment opportunities into existing projects and lessons.

Maybe that sounds improbable, but with the collaborative efforts of over 35 teachers from seven middle and high schools, that’s just what we did.  It was a great summer (if you’re an education geek like me).  Our design and implementation team had the privilege of thinking, planning, learning and innovating with more than 86 teachers from across our district, and my sincere thanks and admiration go out to each and every one of them!

There were moments (aren’t there always?) when I wondered if the work we were doing was the right work.  After recently viewing the documentary film Most Likely to Succeed, I was reassured.   Working to leverage technological efficiencies to improve feedback and student self assessment in inquiry-based application level environments is exactly the kind of work that our students need us to do so that they can have the type of experiences that will allow them to be career, college, and community ready at graduation.  

So, what’s next?  How about this:

  1. Let’s show Most Likely to Succeed to a group of teachers, community leaders, parents, and students, and ask them what they need from us as teachers.
  2. Let’s use that “entry event” as a launching pad to implement the Assessment Academy workshops locally at schools across our district -- making sure, of course, to stay true to the teacher design group’s flexible blended schedule and classroom focused environment.
  3. In fact, let’s ask those busy, busy teachers who participated this summer to share their work and facilitate workshops for the next round of participants.
  4. Let’s continue to revise and improve the way we teach and learn ... always ...

Who’s in?