Toolkit Part 2

During a course I took in my Master’s program, I learned new perspectives about teaching, and I found possible solutions to some of the issues I encountered while teaching children. Of the insights I have gained, two stand out.


Rubrics are a very helpful tool for maintaining consistency in grading and for speeding up the grading process. Circling a few numbers and totaling up points goes a lot faster than writing long descriptions. When I used rubrics for my class’ work, I built the rubric myself. Barkley (2010) suggests allowing students to build the rubric.

I had not considered allowing students to build the rubric themselves. Part of that is a lack of planning. I often did not build the rubric for an assignment until I was ready to grade it. Then I would make one based on the instructions I had given. This circumvents one of the major uses of a rubric: setting clear expectations (Barkley, 2010).

With just a minor shift in the way I use rubrics, I can take full advantage of them.

Critical Incident Questionnaire

When I was teaching elementary, the year would seem to be going along just fine. Then out of nowhere, I would get a report from the principal that an irate parent had been by with a complaint. These were often the parents who did not appear at conference time or who never emailed or called. Had the parent talked to me sooner, that escalation would have been unnecessary.

Brookfield (2006) describes a useful feedback tool that he refers to as a Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ). With a CIQ, teachers seek specific feedback about the class so that problems can be circumvented and concerns can be addressed. I could have used a CIQ for the children to give me feedback about what confused them, what worked for them, and what could improve the class for them. Another one geared for the parents might have headed off some of those irate parents before they showed up in the principal’s office.

In my adult classes, I would use a CIQ from time to time to get information about the class. I would then compare this feedback to what I thought was going on in the class and make whatever reasonable and productive changes I could.

Tune in next time for a few more ideas.


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