There is a wide margin between student learning and assessments that are state mandated. Students may experience comprehensive learning in the classroom as a result of curriculum that a middle school teacher had put in place that creates meaningful learning that is relative to student lives. Assessment should be an intricate part of class curriculum that can be student centered through goal setting and self or peer evaluation. Collaborative learning could, if implemented effectively by a facilitator, lead to collaborative assessment, where student understanding is centered on the classroom learning community. Furthermore, if all that we have been reading is true about student-centered curriculum, then students will welcome student-centered assessment, as long as teachers are aware that their guidance in the process is essential and the key to meaningful learning.
Using curriculum, which is integrated between several disciplines and created with student input allows students to actively facilitate their own learning. Student assessment then becomes student-centered because they will better understand what is expected of them because they help lay out many of the goals to be reached. Assessment then becomes more than just grades, but rather it becomes collaborative objectives that are sought out by the students themselves. Teams of students will become more responsive to the standards that are expected from them because they have a voice that is heard and considered throughout the learning process.
Young adolescents are trying to find and maintain relationships with one another while they are going through the most drastic changes that they have ever experienced. Disproportionate growth spurts, changes in facial characteristics and the advent of sexuality make it all the more difficult for these students to find their place in social circles. It is the middle school teacher who needs to be aware of these social needs and teachers need to create an environment where students are guided into meeting and working alongside many of their peers. Collaborative based assignments is just an example how teachers can facilitate the need for these students to associate with one another.
Students not only feel the pressures from within, but also they are noticing a world that suggests what is appropriate and normal, but that normal is so varied that students are even more confused because while the world is telling them what they should like, they are drawn to particulars that do not adhere. So they are split between all that they see and hear from a wide spectrum of adult behavior. Parents and teachers alike need to make these students understand that they are individuals and acceptability comes in varied forms.
Young adolescents are each unique, with an increasing focus on moralities of the world and self awareness. Middle school teachers need to understand and harness this new sense of self and identity, and create a classroom community where self expression is accepted by student peers. Middle school teachers need to be the leaders in addressing all these concerns, most of the time covertly, and to make classrooms a setting of acceptance and understanding.
Creating the kind of learning community that students can feel comfortable to share their views and contribute to class tasks and even planning is essential, but often quit difficult. But an effective teacher can and should strive for such an environment, ultimately resulting in a bully free classroom. Obviously this task is easier said than done, according to a recent eye-opener that one of my classmates had shared with the class. “Stomp out Bullying”, states that one in four students are bullied in school, while 97% of middle-schoolers have been bullied online. Regardless if these statistics are accurate, bulling is a real treat to the learning environment that students need in order to maintain the relationships, both with teachers and their peers. Students want and need the class to be that refuge from many other aspects of their daily lives, and it is the teacher who is responsible for creating and maintaining such an environment.