When Discord Comes to Middle School

How I walked three middle schoolers through the aftermath of a war of words.

I received an email a couple of weeks ago alerting me to some harsh expletives and slurs being exchanged between some of our students on Discord. The email contained a screenshot of a particularly offensive exchange.

The same morning, I received a phone call. I heard more concerns about the nature of these interactions.

Then another email, with more screenshots.

It was clear that hurtful stuff was flying back and forth between some of our students.

Here’s the thing. Our middle schoolers use Chromebooks during the school day. Phones and personal devices are prohibited and cannot access our school’s wifi network. A network filter restricts access to gaming and social media sites.

So it’s fair to say that students are not on Discord during the school day. They’re not accessing it with school devices, and they’re not using it with personal devices on the school’s wifi network.

Yet this is the third consecutive year that student behavior on Discord has made its way to my vice-principal’s desk.

What IS Discord?

It’s funny: the word discord actually means disagreement, or fighting. Older versions of the Bible warn about those who sow discord like seeds. Their gossip, slander, and insults can take root and grow into serious strife and division between friends.

I have a Discord account, technically. I don’t use it often, but it exists. I think it’s a good platform with a nice interface — despite the shaky choice of name. I’m simply not a gamer and I don’t have many friends who use it.

If you work in a middle school or high school, you’ve at least heard of Discord. Created in 2015, the app originally gained popularity in the gaming community as a way for gamers to chat by voice and text.

Today, the platform’s membership continues to grow beyond the gaming community as the platform goes up against messaging giants such as MS Teams and Slack. I hear YouTubers, podcasters, and business leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk inviting followers to join them on their Discord servers.

Like I said, I’m not a gamer and I don’t use it often. But Discord is a big deal, and it’s an especially big deal for our students.

Schools can’t referee online activities happening outside of school

Let’s be clear: it’s not the role of schools or educators to referee what is going on in online spaces between students on evenings and weekends. To try to do so what be an infinite task, a fruitless mission, and a terrible use of the time that we are entrusted with.

Image Source: ConnectSafely.org

Parents, that stuff is on you. And on me — I’m a parent of teenagers, too. Digital literacy for families is a massive topic and challenge worthy of its own blog post.

Online strife has a way of spilling into the classroom

On the other hand, educators hold a professional duty of care to the children that we serve each day. Like it or not, we can’t turn completely deaf ears and blind eyes to the online exploits of these young people who rely on us for guidance, growth, and mentorship.

The online word wars have a way of entering our spaces. And sometimes, we have to face them head on.

How I addressed the latest discord on Discord

So it was with some sadness that I called a meeting with three of the lead Discordians involved in the latest conflict.

The online exchanges that had been shared with me were too bitter, too mean-spirited, too inappropriate to simply ignore and move on. These were students who worked together, learned together, and shared the same physical spaces with each other. Feelings had been hurt and some anger was clearly simmering near the surface.

We needed to address the harm caused, restore relationships, and commit to doing better together.

Here was the outline I followed for our conversation.

1. We started by naming the harmful online behavior.

I didn’t want to park here for long, and I certainly wasn’t interested in conducting an in-depth investigation of every line, every word, every term that had come to my attention in the screenshots I had received.

The point here was to simply name it: I wanted each student to acknowledge that their words had crossed some lines. Thankfully, they did so willingly.

2. A reminder: our online behaviour has a way of sticking around.

I told them the recent story of a would-be politician who was haunted by screenshots of his social media behavior. The candidate’s hateful tweets from eleven years prior had been discovered and were being circulated by his political opponents.

His campaign was toast as a result.

Twenty-five years into the internet, there are countless reminders like this one. Comments made online have a way of sticking around indefinitely.

It’s a good reminder to all of us: be kind to future You when you conduct yourself online today.

3. Just as corporate logos bring values to mind, we each have a personal brand.

I showed the students some major corporate logos and asked them to name the values that came to mind.

What do you think of when you see the Apple logo? How about Nike?

When I showed them the golden arches of McDonald’s, we agreed on words like tasty, salty, greasy, and fast. But we also agreed that customer service doesn’t belong on that list, or at least not as a core value.

4. A post-it writing activity: What are the core values that you want to be known by?

We had just finished brainstorming the core values that come to mind when we see the logos of some of the world’s most famous companies.

Now it was the students’ turn.

What were the values that they wanted to be known by? What were the words that they wanted to come to mind when people saw their face or read their name?

We took 2–3 minutes of quiet reflecting and writing to consider this question. I participated, too.

Then we went around the circle and shared our responses. It did my heart a lot of good to be reminded of the values that my young friends actually aspire to. And I think it was good for their classmates to hear those values, too.

5. Committing to do better by aligning our values with our online activities

We concluded our time together with a round of commitments. What would each student do differently, I asked, to make sure that their online activities aligned with the core values that they wanted to be known by?

What would that look like at school? What would that look like on Discord?

Again, students participated willingly. Perhaps a good portion of their answers were performative — that’s somewhat inevitable.

But I think it’s important to actually say out loud what we intend to do differently, and to do so in front of others that we’ve wronged.

Our mission of growth continues

With that, I warmly thanked these students for our discussion and sent them on their way.

This won’t be the last time that discord on Discord makes its way to my task list, but that’s just part of the job.

It’s part of the job because it’s part of our mission: supporting the growth of the learners in our care.

And in 2022, that growth includes responding to discord on Discord.

Image Source: Second Step Curriculum for Middle Schoolers

Two Scary Phone Habits That Will Bring Back Your Fire for Teaching

You’re not a victim: empower yourself by controlling your phone.

Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

You’re lying in bed, minutes away from going to sleep. You’re looking sleepily at your phone and notice a new email. It’s from a parent of one of your students, and the subject line sounds emotional.

Uh-oh.

Your blood pressure skyrockets as you scan the opening lines. You put the phone down beside your bed, but it’s too late. You’re already rehearsing responses and worrying about how much time and energy this issue will steal from you the next day.

Bye bye, sleep.

On another evening, you’re trying to focus on a complex task and your phone starts buzzing repeatedly. Who’s messaging me like a madman right now?

You try to recenter your focus on the project, but you can’t shake the question. After a minute or two, you pick up your phone. I’ll just see who it was.

Fatal mistake. The teacher chat is popping off with questions about a school event happening the next day, and someone’s asking for support. As one of the more experienced members of the team, you’re one of the few who can answer questions and share resources. You jump in, and now you’re living in the chat for the next 30 minutes.

The conventional wisdom says you’re a victim.

These are well-known problems in teacher land, and the fingers often get pointed angrily at the origins of the messaging.

Why do they need to send me an email so late in the evening?

How dare they message me on my weekend?

Why won’t they respect my time?

First: the practical problems with scheduled emails

One well-traveled admonishment that I’ve heard in the last few years is for teachers and administrators to schedule all emails. Never send in real time on an evening or on a weekend — always schedule it for the next school day morning, this thinking goes.

I tried to hold to that religiously for a while. But I’ve noticed some practical problems with the practice.

For one, scheduled emails can waste everyone’s time.

Let’s say that a teacher emails three colleagues for a solution to a problem they’re facing. It’s entirely possible for all three recipients to craft lengthy, thoughtful replies to the query and schedule them all for Monday morning.

When the three replies arrive, it turns out there’s a whole lot of overlap and redundancy between them — they’re all saying the same thing. It’s a maddening waste.

Scheduled emails can also create confusion.

Scheduled emails can lead to email threads with conflicting or old-news replies jumbled together out of chronological order.

The thoughtful reply that was crafted on Saturday morning has been made utterly irrelevant by a decision made on Sunday night.

Worst of all, scheduled emails can create more stress than ever.

Just put yourself in the shoes of any teacher who comes into school on a busy Monday with no scheduled prep blocks to be greeted by an avalanche of unread emails written since Friday at 3:30. I’m not convinced that’s such a blessing for teacher mental health.

Feeling some doubts around the scheduled email practice, I went to teachers to get a sense of their preference. I posted a poll on Twitter and 189 responded.

As I suspected, the majority of teachers would actually prefer the option (not mandate) of reading school-related communications on the weekend (if and when they want to) versus the Monday morning avalanche.

Two radical phone habits that will bring back your fire for teaching

If scheduled emails aren’t the answer, we’re still left with the phone anxiety I described at the top. How can we keep digital communication in its place and make sure that we are engaging on our terms and not someone else’s?

As Dave Ramsey likes to say, you have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired in order to make real and painful changes.

Perhaps you’re there with phone emails and notifications.

Wherever you are and whatever your lived experience, here are two radical moves that will transform your lived experience.

Buckle up.

Habit 1: Leave your phone out of the bedroom at night

What if I told you that there was one simple change that you could make to your life that would produce the following:

  • Less stress about work
  • Less blue light in your day
  • Less electronic activity near your body
  • More sex
  • More sleep
  • More reading
  • More pillow talk
  • More journaling and reflection

That’s right. Leaving your phone out of the bedroom at night will produce all of these benefits and more. Guaranteed.

I started this practice a few years ago and find it easily one of the most personally transformative changes that I’ve ever made. It’s one of those simple-but-hard moves that absolutely anyone can make that costs nothing.

Even beyond the bullet list of benefits above, there’s a quality of mind that’s hard to describe and impossible to quantify when your phone is not on the same floor as you. It’s like going off the grid, but better.

And you can do it. Of course, I’ve heard all the reasons why people can’t make a similar move to keep their phones away from their bedroom at night.

  • “I need my phone for an alarm clock.”
  • “I need to be available for my children.”
  • “I need to be available in case of emergencies at the school.”

Most of this amounts to “What if” and FOMO.

Relax.

You’ll be okay without your black mirror beside your head while you sleep, just like your parents were.

Scary habit 2: Keeping your phone permanently on Do Not Disturb

As Tristan Harris points out in The Social Dilemma, things that are actually tools don’t control us. They don’t call to us. They don’t insist on breaking our focus.

Tools do exactly what we want them to, when we want them to. They are humble servants.

It’s for that reason that I don’t want to hear from my phone. At all.

Turning my phone’s ringer off is a no-brainer place to start, but that isn’t enough for me.

I don’t want vibrations when my phone is sitting on a surface. I don’t want my phone waking up (lighting up) with notifications of any kind. Ever.

If I’m occupied with a task, I want radio silence and a screen that stays dark.

And that’s what I get. By leaving my phone on Do Not Disturb (look for the moon symbol) 24/7, my phone never lights up, vibrates, or rings.

My phone tells me that I’m receiving an average of 168 notifications per day, and the apps pictured below the graph show the number of notifications each one would generate on a weekly basis if I allowed them to.

Some of the 168 notifications per day that I’m not receiving on my phone thanks to DND

The iPhone exception: favorite contacts can reach me

I can’t speak to Androids, but iPhones allow a small loophole for the conditions I described above.

If I’ve tagged a contact as a Favorite, their calls and messages will come through. That means that my wife, kids, parents, and school administrators can still call and text me. As a husband, parent, and vice-principal, I’m realistic enough to acknowledge that some exceptions must be made.

For the rest of the world, including my colleagues, they are still free to message me on iMessage, Google Chat, WhatsApp, or whatever. I purposely leave badges on those apps, so the next time that I open my phone, I’ll see that I received a message.

But I’m coming to the message on my terms, when I want to. I’m not allowing others to barge in on my work whenever they please.

Why not just remove all school email and apps from your phone?

This discussion wouldn’t be complete without addressing the Scorched Earth method. I know at least one colleague who refuses to have school-related communication (email or Google Chat) on his phone. And I know there are others who believe in that level of compartmentalization.

I respect the intention there, but I’m not interested. To me, the ability to be able to read and respond to emails and DMs from my team when it’s convenient for me is far too valuable.

My logic is that if I can read, file, and respond to 30 emails while I’m standing in the Costco line-up or waiting for a family member in the car, that’s 15 minutes of relaxation time that I can spend with my wife instead of sitting down at the computer.

Or let me put it this way: if I remove all school email and apps from my phone, I’m giving up those micro-opportunities to fend off Email Mountain that a typical day provides. Instead, I’m choosing to either stay longer at the school or give up more of my home time for work.

Do you like those choices? Neither do I.

Instead, I keep all options open so that I can respond to them on my terms: when I want to, when I have the emotional energy, and when it’s convenient for me.

Boundaries create freedom and empowerment

I titled this piece Two Scary Phone Habits because that’s what they are: scary. Most readers will acknowledge some level of logic in my arguments but will likely ignore both suggestions.

And that’s okay. It’s not my intention to should on you.

But if I hear you complain about school messages and emails coming to you at all hours of night and weekend, I’m going to remind you of something: you’re not a victim of some angry parent or over-zealous administrator.

Take control of your phone.

Take back your sanity by giving these two phone habits a chance.

The results just may change your life.

Photo credit: Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

A Message to Middle Schoolers: Stop Sweating the School Stuff

Chill is a skill: don’t let academic anxiety steal the joy from your life.

I’m a vice-principal in a small middle school of 220 students.

Our kids are awesome. And our families are invested and supportive.

It’s cool to learn in our school. It’s cool to be a tryhard. It’s cool to help others learn, too.

Something else. Our assessment system features no percentages or letter-grades.

Instead, evidence of student learning is assessed against curricular standards using a 4-point proficiency scale like the one below.

By removing letter-grades and percentages from the picture, we’re also getting rid of rank-and-sort. We’re saying goodbye to trophy culture. We’re not interested in defining winners and losers.

Instead, we’re saying that we are a learning community. We pursue proficiency together because we are all developing learners.

That’s our messaging, anyway.

Academic anxiety can persist even in standards-based grading environments

I know a couple of middle schoolers who regularly demonstrate high proficiency against learning standards in virtually every subject.

They are committed and determined learners. They’re outstanding collaborators. They’re compassionate supporters and encouragers of classmates. They’re leaders in the room and absolute joys to teach.

These students project a lot of sunshine and roses, but a silent battle rages below the surface.

They struggle with intense anxiety around their academic achievement.

It’s so saddening, and it defies understanding.

What’s at the root of this anxiety?

Here’s a bold proposition: no middle schooler should have to deal with academic anxiety. Absolutely none — I don’t care how well their learning is progressing.

When high school juniors and seniors experience academic anxiety, I don’t like it, and I can make some strong cases against it. For one, the quality of your life will not depend on which college you’re admitted to.

But with college around the corner, I can at least understand it.

In middle school — especially one without letter-grades or percentages — it’s almost inexplicable. How can our students possibly lose sleep over their academic performance?

My theories about where most of this anxiety comes from

The top-notch counselling team at my school could likely offer more insights, but my conversations with middle schoolers over the years lead me to the following theories:

1. Parent pressures.

Well-intentioned or not, it’s no secret that some parents push their children pretty hard. Report card pressure can be intense. One of the many messages: your future depends on shining achievement in school. Threats and rewards of various kinds may accompany these messages.

2. College admission.

Linked to parent pressures, this is the idea that success in one’s profession (and in life) depends on admission to the right college or university. We hear this idea from students as early as fourth grade.

College admission depends on the 12th grade transcript, which depends on stellar high school achievement, which depends on acceptance to honors programs, which depends on strong middle school performance. Ta-da! The roadmap is drawn for a decade of anxiety.

3. A fixed mindset.

Some students have been called “smart” so many times in their lives that it becomes a part of their identity. Instead of instilling invincible confidence, hearing a lifetime of “you’re so smart” can create a fear of slipping or risking the source of that sacred status. Carol Dweck lays this out beautifully in Mindset.

Others describe this student as one on defense (stick to what is safe and I’ve proven I can do well) versus offense (try new things, take new risks, engage with difficult tasks when possible).

Other theories from my professional learning network

When I reached out to my Twitter PLN for their theories about where this academic anxiety comes from, their answers were insightful.

4. Personality and Psychological Profile.

Middle school teacher Riley Dueck observes that “Some students are more inclined to perfectionism/anxiety than others (see Enneagram Type 1 & Type 6).”

Intermediate educator Maria Dawson puts some of the blame on “Undiagnosed ADD. Builds anxiety and creates internal pressures. Considerably worse in females as the SNAP assessments are all geared for previous typical ADHD behaviours. Sometimes the H can be hyperfocus not hyperactive.”

5. Peers.

Erik Murray says “I see it a lot and it comes from peers. It’s like keeping up with the mini Joneses: ‘I got ranked this in the math team — what did you get?’ That sort of thing.”

Maureen Wicken is on the same page, writing “Comparison: not only is it the thief of joy, but it also destroys our sense of accomplishment, hope, and purpose. And giving everyone participation trophies doesn’t seem to have helped.”

6. Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Paralysis.

My incredible colleague Anika Brandt points out more Ps that factor into this conversation: the cycle of perfectionism, procrastination, and paralysis.

She’s right, of course — some academic anxiety is self-induced (or at least amplified) by destructive tendencies. When this cycle shows up for students, it makes me want to ask: what fears lie behind it, and how can we unpack them?

We need to be more curious about academic anxiety

It’s at about this point that some of my education colleagues will pointedly remind me: “Why aren’t you asking the students where their anxiety comes from?”

I am, and I will. We talk a lot about social-emotional health with our students, but we need to be more direct and more curious about the extent of academic anxiety specifically and its origins.

When we know more, we can do more.

In the meantime, I want to share a message specifically to the people that matter most.

My message to middle schoolers

Dear students,

Your teachers and I love you so much. It is an incredible joy to be able to teach and work and learn beside you each day. YOU make the difficult work of teaching all worth it.

We know that the adults in your life sometimes forget how anxious you actually feel about school. We want to do a better job of supporting you.

Please let us know when you’re feeling low. Let us know when you’re worried. Let us know when you’re having trouble sleeping or eating because the school anxiety is so intense.

Your teachers want to help, and sometimes we can support you in ways that you didn’t expect or may not have thought of.

Oh, and our counselling team is awesome. Being able to talk about your worries with another person can make all the difference. We’d love to set up an appointment for you if you’d be open to that.

Finally, here’s some honest perspective.

Middle school life is difficult and complicated enough without worrying about grades and academic achievement.

You know that as teachers, we’re going to continue to encourage you to be curious, be daring and adventurous with your learning, apply yourself, use class time well, and collaborate with others.

But trust us when we say this: no matter how your work is assessed, you’re going to be fine. Really. The quality of your incredible future doesn’t depend on your middle school grades.

So keep developing yourself. Keep following your passions and curiosities. Keep having fun, enjoying good laughs, and building solid friendships.

That’s what middle school life should be about. Please don’t allow your academic achievements to steal that from you.

Stop sweating the school stuff, and enjoy every day of this crazy thing we call life.

We’ll be cheering you on every step of the way.

Mr. Cavey

Quick Tutorial: How to Remove Video Background in Canva

Should Teachers Attend Student Performances Outside of School?

“Why didn’t you attend our daughter’s musical?” the parents asked.

Photo Credit: Kristijan Arsov on Unsplash.com

Teaching is an amazing and rewarding space to work in.

It can also be utterly exhausting. As Washington teacher Tyler Rablin reminded us, it’s emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding work.

In the third term of last year, I was asked to attend three different performances involving my students. These were personal events completely unrelated to school. They included gymnastics, a choir performance, and a musical. They were scheduled on evenings and weekends.

I declined all of them.

You know these students mean well. In fact, it’s touching — humbling, even — that they wanted me there at those events, in the seats, cheering them on and bearing witness to the product of their dedicated preparation.

So I don’t blame them or their parents for wanting me there.

But as a part-time vice-principal, I get a little feisty when teacher wellness is put at risk unnecessarily. School-sanctioned evening events are already a big ask and take a big toll on teachers: I’m thinking here of Meet the Teacher Night, parent conferences, band concerts, and the like.

Keep in mind that many teachers are also parents, meaning they’re pulling double or triple duty for these evening events.

One night they’re supervising a band concert at their own school, the next night they’re wearing their parent hat and attending their child’s concert at another school. One night they’re hosting parent conferences, the next night they’re attending them.

Been there.

This on top of all the other countless demands that teachers must stay on top of outside of class time: lesson planning, feedback, IEP communication, email, and endless administrivia.

The parent and partner guilt that most teachers live under

Speaking of family life, many teachers operate under a continuous cloud of guilt. They may not admit it on the surface, but talk to them for any length of time and you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about.

They wish they could be more emotionally available for their partners.

They wish they could have more energy for their own children.

They wish they could have more time to cultivate real relationships outside of work.

Now take the weight of this guilt and imagine them sitting through a 2-hour musical on a Wednesday night. It’s not good.

They’re tired. Their partner or children are at home. Lessons are waiting to be planned. Assignments are waiting for feedback.

It would be a touching gesture on the part of a generous teacher to show such support, but in my mind it just doesn’t add up.

The problem of precedent that parents must keep in mind

There’s another important reason why teachers are wise to decline these kinds of out-of-school student performances, and well-meaning parents may not recognize it at first.

If Miss Robinson says yes and attends Jackie’s figure skating championship, that only raises the pressure on her to also attend Jenny’s violin recital, Eddie’s swim meet, and Twila’s musical.

Even worse, it raises the pressure on her colleagues to do the same. It becomes a lot harder for teachers to decline all student performances when a colleague is somehow out in the community attending one of these performances after another.

Why didn’t you attend our daughter’s performance?

Last year I sat (in my role as part-time vice-principal) with a teacher while her parents asked her point blank: “Can we just ask why you didn’t attend our daughter’s performance?”

The implication was clear. You should have been there.

I didn’t like the question at all, but I was silent and allowed my colleague to respond.

It was a difficult moment. In my 22 years as an educator, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that question before.

If put in that situation again, I’d like to jump in. “Because we encourage our teachers and colleagues to say no to student performances happening outside of school,” I’d say flatly.

Teacher health and wellness requires a recognition that our time and energy are limited. Limitations require careful budgeting, and budgeting requires discrimination based on priorities.

None of us are wealthy enough to distribute money indiscriminately. That’s just common sense.

The same goes for time and energy. These are finite resources. And in the teacher life, they’re incredibly valuable.

Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash

In defense of teachers: parents, please don’t ask this of them

Parents, we love you dearly. It is such an honor and a privilege — truly, it is an incredible joy — to serve your beautiful children each day.

Help us be our best selves.

Help us keep the joy in our work and the fire in our eyes.

Help us protect the emotional bandwidth we need for the dozens of little people we interact with each day.

When it comes to your child’s performances, you’re welcome to send teachers a YouTube link to their wonderful work. If we have time, we just may watch a minute or two and leave a comment.

But please don’t ask a teacher to attend your child’s performance in person.

What is assessment?

When it comes to K-12 education, it’s pretty much everything.

Photo Source: Barrett Ward on Unsplash.com

The closer you look at assessment philosophies and practices, the more you realize that assessment shapes instruction, learning, language, calendars, culture, and virtually every aspect of life in K-12 schools.

Assessment is everything.

For decades, schools and educators clung to old paradigms of assessment.

They treated grades as wages: students do the work, and teachers pay them for that work.

They treated assessment as a means of ranking and sorting: winners at the top, losers at the bottom.

They treated assessments as leverage to ensure compliance: follow the rules, and you’ll be rewarded. Color outside the lines or show up late to class, and we’ll use grades to punish you.

These old systems of assessment inspired courage and fear. They dealt honor and shame. But they often had little to do with the learning itself.

No more. Assessment in our K-12 schools is turning a corner. And the future is bright.

“Write, in one sentence, your definition of assessment.”

That was the request I put out to my professional learning network on Twitter this fall. I thought that if a few of my colleagues engaged with this question, some rich dialogue was sure to follow.

And engage they did. Thank you, PLN.

What a rich conversation. Every tweet you’re about to read gives me pause.

This thread is so rich that I had to memorialize it. Enjoy, and may this thread spark further thought on your own journey of assessment.

What IS assessment?

And implied: What is the purpose of assessment?

  1. “A tool to evaluate and improve learning.” — Audrey McGregor @AudreyMcGregor1
  2. “Assessment is doing whatever I need to do with you in order to get inside of your head to understand what you need to know, understand, and do to take your next step on your learning journey.” — BeckyFisher73 @BeckyFisher73
  3. “Assessment = checking in.” — Conklin Educational Perspectives @ConkEdPerspect
  4. “Show me what you got!” — Nick Covington @CovingtonEDU
  5. “Identifying where students are in skill and understanding, and offering suggestions for their next steps of learning and refinement.” — Craig Voskamp @CraigVoskamp
  6. “A dialogue to learn about your learning.” — Chris Smith @cssmithteach
  7. “Assessment is any informed process engaged by teachers and/or learners that illuminates where a learner is at in the learning process, how they got there, the learner’s and teacher’s next steps, and how to get learners to their goals.” — Shannon Schinkel @DramaQueenBRC
  8. “Assessment is the ongoing process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence (State Government of Victoria, Australia © 2019).” — Dr. David Gentile @drdgentile
  9. “Assessment is any means by which we gauge our own or someone else’s current understanding of a selected subject.” — J. Nicholas Philmon @DrNikPhilmon
  10. “A snapshot in time measurement of student understanding and ability to demonstrate mastery of taught curriculum.” — ProwlMom34 @DRoss625
  11. “Checking in with the learner to see if what they’re understanding about a subject is what you’re trying to teach.” — Eileen McDaniel @EileenM02086562
  12. “Three types of assessments are critical to good teaching and should be helpful to both the teacher and the learner — diagnostic, formative, and summative.” — Elliott Seif @elliottseif
  13. “When learning to ride a bike, three questions show three critical assessments: Can the learner get on the bike? (diagnostic); What feedback will help the rider as she learns? (formative); Can the rider ride on his own? (summative). From Teaching for Lifelong Learning, chapter 3.” — Elliott Seif @elliottseif 
  14. “One way I figure out what to do next.” — Erin Earnshaw @erin_earnshaw
  15. “Helping students find their next steps.” — James Abela @eslweb
  16. “Assessment is the act and process of seeing or noticing the relationship between the learning target and the actual learning. It allows a knowing with which to make sound decisions about what happens next.” — Andrew Maxey @ezigbo_
  17. “Assessment is reflection’s GPS.” — Heidi Graci @formermingo
  18. “Where do I start my teaching from?” — Francis Joseph @Francis_Joseph
  19. “There are practice days and there are game days.” — Glenn Morgan @glennirvinem
  20. “Assessment: (noun) A tool or process that provides data on progress (or lack thereof) towards a goal.” — Monica Agudelo @good_elo
  21. “Assessment captures a snapshot of what a student could demonstrate in that moment. A collection of assessments taken over time provides a more accurate picture of how a child is growing in their learning.” — Kimberly Church @HolaMrsChurch
  22. “Assessment is the provision of explicit feedback on any artifact of learning with the goal of furthering that learning.” — Jeff Hopkins @hopkinsjeff
  23. “A way to see if they know what I need them to know.” — Toby Price @jedipadmaster
  24. “Measurement of student growth to provide feedback and generate more growth.” — Jen Smielewski @JenSmielewski
  25. “The collection of evidence of student achievement on desired learning outcomes.” — Josh Kunnath @JoshKunnath
  26. “Determination of current state in relation to future state and the responses we take to move toward goals. Assessment informs response.” — Katie White @KatieWhite426
  27. “Assessment discerns ‘the known’ and the ‘what next’ for individuals.” — Charlotte P @lifeoflottie
  28. “To assess: to seek information (via conversations, observations or students’ work) in order to learn more about our students (e.g., attitude, understanding, thinking processes, knowledge, habits of mind) for the purposes of improving student learning. While related to evaluation (the process of assigning a value/grade/percentage), assessment and evaluation are very different processes with different goals and outcomes.” — Mark Chubb @MarkChubb3 [two tweets]
  29. “A moment of reflection and celebration on a learning journey where (with another learner) you look back to appreciate how far you came, think about where you now stand, and plan for your next steps in your learning travels.” — Mark Sonnemann @MarkSonnemann
  30. “A method to determine current knowledge/skills to assist in the determination of the next steps for growth.” — Mike Szczepanik @MikeSzczepanik
  31. “One moment in time for a student and teacher, not the end all of anything.” — Mindy Swanson @mindykswanson
  32. “Assessment is showing what you know, receiving feedback on that (from someone else like a peer or teacher, or from deep independent reflection), applying the feedback, and showing what you know again — so it is a continual process.” — Brenda Ball @misssball
  33. “Assessment is one measure of the effectiveness of instruction.” — Michael Bissell @mrbissell
  34. “To sit beside. It’s a visible image of learning. Collaboration, relationships, growing, mutual feedback, responses, respect, and HOPE!” — Jim Smith @MrDataGuy
  35. “Show me what you know.” — Adrian Neibauer @MrNeibauer
  36. “How you know they know.” — Rebekah Shaw @MrsShaw_TCC
  37. “The tool to see individual progress and point out the next steps.” — Nathalie Magel @nathalie_magel
  38. “Informal or informal way to check learner progression. Specific feedback for growth must be given by the teacher.” — Misty Kirby @OneLove_mk
  39. “How both teachers and learners know learning is happening and why and how it’s happening.” — Pam Moran @pammoran
  40. “Informing strengths and next steps in learning.” — Ms. Pope @PopeSD36
  41. “To collect the necessary information to understand a learner’s instructional needs.” — Practice Readers Books @PracticeReaders
  42. “What the heck did my students learn and how do I know they learned it?” — Daniel Katz @Prof_Katz
  43. “Assessments are educational health checks, so we know what to prescribe to each individual.” — Lozetta Hayden @Quencessh
  44. “From the Latin assidere: to assess means to sit beside the learner; So what does it mean and what does it look like to sit beside a learner?” — Randy Swift @RandySwift9
  45. “A set of tools used by teachers to gauge, clarify, and report the preparedness, progression, skill development, and needs of their students.” — Shandeemay @shandeemay1
  46. “A snapshot into the understanding of a student and the quality of the teaching.” — Chris Summers @summers_llm
  47. “The evaluation of what a person knows and can do at point of administration.” — Jeffery E. Frieden @SurthrivEDU
  48. “Learners show what they know.” — Julia Joy @TheHealstorian
  49. “Feedback in multiple ways to glean understanding on how to improve.” — MmePapa @tlwestridge
  50. “Assessment is a chance to showcase your application of knowledge to practical situations.” — Traci Johnson @tsuejohnson
  51. “Assessment: the process of generating information for educators and learners in order to understand achievements with regard to the (previously agreed upon) learning objectives.” — Vahid Masrour @vahidm

For further reflection and discussion

Which definition of assessment resonated with you the most?

Which thought provoked your thinking?

Which line inspired your practice?

As long as we’re talking about assessment, we’re engaging in conversations about the shape of our schools and the nature of learning itself.

And that gives me hope for the future.