Day 4: Unpacking school culture

Today was a short day. This session began with a series of questions leading to a discussion about school identity:

  • List five adjectives to explain:
    •  What your school thinks it is
    • What it actually is
    • What it should be 
  • To what different audiences is your school presenting itself?
  • What media does the school use to communicate with audiences?

This led to a discussion where each teacher shared similarities and differences in each of the schools represented.

I think these questions could be used within my school context through our professional development groups. It would be interesting to see if teachers would have different or similar responses to these questions.

The discussion on assessment was very brief with a focus on the purpose of assessment. The table below was used to generate discussion:

Assessment for…
Type of assessment
Reason for assessment
Timing of assessment
(I listed assessments we’ve done thus far in each column)
Some thoughts:
The purpose of assessments needs to be in the forefront of every teacher’s mind when preparing assessment. There was a consensus amongst the teachers that most of the assessment done in our schools is not necessary and often done because that is part of the school’s culture which is driven by data.

It is also important to consider other forms of assessment such as peer assessment and self-assessment. Peer assessment is crucial for work that requires the students to collaborate with others. Is it possible to consider collaborative assessment as a core part of the assessment programme? This question relates to the idea of assessment being a meaningful part of the curriculum objectives or collaborating amongst students in order to create a different kind of learning experience. Rubrics for alternative assessments are available on various websites (mostly UK-based organisations):
·      The remainder of the session was dedicated to an activity that will hopefully inform the feedback I will give to my school. We were given a planning task that we could work on in order to think of the practical application of the ideas we've discussed thus far: 
I have started with the first part of the activity. This has made me realise that in spite of the many challenges I face within my school there's a consciousness of a global perspective. This is largely because of the privileged nature of the student body and teachers. There's a global awareness but is it a critical awareness of the global world? 

   The day also included a visit to the Parker Library which houses many archives of manuscripts from the Renaissance and Medieval periods. It is named after Archbishop Matthew Parker who donated most of the manuscripts to the college.

A peculiar position for a bookshelf: above the entrance


   This visit made me consider the history within the university. The university was established in 1209. That's a strange year that means nothing to me except that it was a long time ago but in Cambridge 1209 is significant. This history is etched deeply in every church spire and turret. The legacy of a university with such a history means nothing in light of the blight of colonialism because there was life in Britain before colonialism happened and there's a sense of pride in this history. But I can't shake off the discomfort when the history is evoked because it most glorifies a white male narrative of scholarship. I'm learning a lot about myself and this place but in a place that doesn't confirm my reality and my history. 



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