Whoever said you should never meet your heroes was not working in Education. Earlier in the summer, at the Science and Mathematics Education Conference (SMEC) conference in DCU, the highlight of the day for me was a double whammy – a lecture by Paul Black followed by a workshop with Christine Harrison. For anyone familiar with Assessment for Learning in Education, and The Black Box series, this was bound to be a treat. It did not disappoint.
Prof Black looked frail but spoke strongly, delivering a keynote that could have been called AfL101. What stayed with me afterwards was his quote from Groome..there is a fine line between empowering learners as their own people and overpowering them…this is a line I think we cross far too often in out dependency culture classrooms.
Christine Harrison‘s superb workshop was on feedback to students on their work. She showed John Hattie‘s evidence on the major effect feedback has (and in the bargain became the first academic to explain effect size clearly to this numbscull, thank you Chris!). The room was full of educators from all over Europe, and it was great to be led in a discussion about the variety of approaches we take, and how we could use effective feedback to help students thrive in their learning. Formative feedback is probably the scariest (and certainly the most contentious) area of AfL for teachers, so it was great to get this encouraging and motivating refresher, and some really evidence based ideas on how to move it on.
(Now I am really looking forward to meeting the third members of my AfL Black Box ‘Troika’, Dylan Wiliam, at a seminar in September. No pressure eh Dylan?)