Personally, I believe educators should develop clear expectations of students in the classroom. Deadlines, exams, and other assignments can be meaningful in regards to preparing students for their futures. However, assessment practices do not always dictate a student’s understanding or level of knowledge. In my opinion, it is important to create clear expectations of students, however teachers should be wary or what is most important in the classroom. Should the goal be that students complete a year of school with a new wealth of knowledge and information OR should the goal be that they be well understanding of things such as deadlines and exam writing? In other words, is the content or the premise more important? Carol Ann Tomlinson’s “Learning to Love Assessment,” provides ten different understandings of assessment. Understanding 5 discusses the idea that informative assessment is not always about “after” – students can benefit from assessment during a particular unit or lesson because it allows teachers to determine whether any students are falling behind or lacking an understanding (Tomlinson, 2007, p.11). In addition, utilizing assessment methods ‘during’ rather than ‘after’ can open a teachers’ eyes to whether or not students would benefit from a different teaching strategy or form of learning, whether it be based on academic differences, cultural differences, or any factor of diversity.
An effective teacher should be able to recognize the benefits of differentiation and the use of multiple assessment strategies in order to encourage all students to reach full potential. Our Words, Our Ways suggests integrating multiple methods of assessment such as written assignments, exams, or presentations in order to cater to the different learning styles of students. An inclusive-based, differentiated classroom would demonstrate an understanding of cultural differences in learning and in assessment. Our Words, Our Ways focuses solely on the differentiated learning styles of Aboriginal students and makes suggestions to educators who struggle to create an inclusive and equal opportunity environment for learning. Although some of the language used in chapter six may generalize and stereotype, it is still an important step forward in terms of equality and equity in Canada. It is my belief that educators have an obligation to be open-minded and as unbiased as possible in regards to teaching students. Regardless of the level of knowledge that a teacher may have on First Nations, Metis, and Inuit cultures in Canada, it is significant that information such as Our Words, Our Ways exist. Some individuals may believe that this type of approach is a form of labeling or stereotype, however Canadian society has long ignored the existence of such cultural diversity. Years of mistreatment and socioeconomic inequities have caused generational trauma that needs to be recognized. When considering assessment, teachers should be open-minded and understanding to cultural implications and differences and appropriately adjust their methods of assessment accordingly. Multiple methods and opportunities for students can foster a healthy learning environment for all students, regardless of their backgrounds.