As we begin to recognise the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, how can we find the balance between supporting the mental wellbeing of our pupils and addressing their gaps in learning?
As I sit down to work, my music is briefly interrupted by a Government health alert. Accustomed as I am to the gentle, earnest tone of the spokesperson, my stomach clenches instinctively and I am brought back to the present: "If you have to go out, keep a distance..."
It is impossible to fully comprehend the scale and devastation of this pandemic but, as teachers, we will soon be learning from the pupils in our care about their own experiences of the crisis. Alongside our duty to preserve the physical health of ourselves, our colleagues, our families and our pupils, we will become part of the frontline in supporting the mental health of the children we teach.
We know from our our own teaching practice that learning is almost impossible when pupils do not feel safe. We also recognise that as we return to school and begin to establish a new 'normal', we will still be in a period of uncertainty and for many pupils the climate of fear will continue to be tangible. Those 'at risk' children, for whom school is a safe haven, may have been playing on our minds and now we begin to assess the impact, plan for closing the gaps and, most importantly, set about recreating a safe space for all.
Mind the gap!
As we turn our attention to the impact of lockdown on knowledge and skills, we must consider how to approach assessment and maintain the wellbeing of staff and pupils.
For many of us, the suggestion of formal, baseline testing, using papers or question-generating software, raises some serious questions:
Are we putting our pupils through more stress?
Will we get the best out of pupils in a test environment?
Can a paper really explore depth of understanding, or simple misconceptions?
Are we setting ourselves up for a scheme of regular testing?
With so many pupils absent, when do we schedule these tests?
Is manual data input a good (or fair) use of teacher time?
Summative, in this situation, is not the solution.
Instead, let's adopt an approach that places pupil and staff wellbeing at the heart of our necessary endeavours. Let's choose to trust our teachers to make class-based, formative assessment. Let's provide them with one simple system that records learning as it happens and requires no training - they have enough to do. In short, let's let them teach!
Less work, more Mappix
Here's how Mappix provides the simplest solution to post-lockdown assessment:
It's ready to go In three clicks you can review what you've just taught in class and record how each pupil did with a simple tick. It's pre-populated with Greater Depth examples and there's even the option to drop into lower objectives if you'd like to record SEND pupils against different target.
It's formative AND summative Even if you've only marked a few objectives, the clever algorithms in Mappix will make clear predictions for end of year outcomes - no tests, just teaching.
Access is remote So even staff working from home can update the smart marksheet or upload evidence to the hub.
It's MAT-friendly Solving a real headache for MAT leaders: the chore of collating data - no memory sticks, no spreadsheets, just one simple, synchronised system! Check out the MAT offer here.
It requires no training Who has the time (or the money) for a day's training? Plus, software that needs extensive training is usually too complicated and is a pain to schedule whenever you bring on new members of staff.
A live evidence bank Pupils may be retelling a story or conducting a science experiment and a quick snap or movie of their work can be instantly stored as evidence. A handy reminder for us teachers and a beautiful record of learning for the pupils.
Writing can be moderated With the only digital writing assessment platform of its kind, you can use pupils' work to make instant (9 clicks!) judgements about levels. Zero stress for teachers and you can even moderate remotely!
It's quick Tap, tick, done! There is no easier system out there with the power and usability of Mappix - probably because it was designed by one of us!
Find out more about the Mappix approach to formative assessment here.