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I once offered some year long PD on digital storytelling and in addition to an evaluation of the course after it was complete, I did a follow up evaluation asking them a year later if the learning they did was making a difference in their classrooms. I’ve said for a long time that if we really want to assess school we need to include evaluation and assessments that happen years after a course. It’s not always practical or feasible but I think it’s an idea we need to pursue, particularly if we think the notion of “life long learning” is a thing.
Bob Sprankle, as many know is one of the first classroom teachers to have his students podcast. This was back in 2004 so 8 years later he invites students back to reflect on their experience. What a powerful, interesting conversation of students thinking about the impact of their time as 3rd and 4th graders and how it’s stayed with them. I’ve been teaching students at the University of Regina since 2007. After listening to that I decided I wanted to do something similar. Partly for purely selfish reasons, I wanted to see if and how the ideas of the introductory course to technology has had any effect on former students.
I tell my students that I am a lifetime subscriber to their blogs. It is one of my favorite things when one of them continues to share and post after they enter the teaching field. While most of them don’t continue to blog, many of them continue to use twitter and set up classroom spaces for their students. It’s the one way I have to informally do long range assessments. I’m under no illusion that all my students think my course is the greatest thing ever. I’m also under no illusion that even those who do enjoy the course can point any success they had to my course. At the same time, I need to hear about the ideas the course offers that resonate in some ways. To that end, I invited a few former students to join me for a conversation. So Cori, Sara, Kyle and Deborah hopped on a Google Hangout and we talked.
I’m fully aware this is a thin slice, less than random sampling and at the same time their experiences help inform my thinking about what matters in my course. Even without that, it’s still great to talk with them as young teachers. Have a listen, you’ll learn something too, they’re a pretty smart bunch. I feel fortunate to get to teach them and even more fortunate to learn with and from them long after the course ends.