#nubelymath project: Swedish model is a change of teaching, not assessing.

What underpins great teaching? Great relationships. Only if the teacher knows their students well, can they get the best out of each pupil under their care. Building relationships takes time.

How do we really get to know people? We really get to know them by conversing, sharing moments and logging their reactions to shared events. All of these are opportune moments and the best way for the teacher to capture them is to dedicate as much time as possible to being a background part of them.

In England, directives have resulted in teachers dedicating more time to paperwork and evidencing what each of their pupils can do. A paradox in itself as the teacher cannot truly decide what each child can do as they cannot really witness it if their eyes are fixated on the assessment document. Besides, if the teacher decides what a pupil can, or cannot yet, do then is that not theoretical and speculative? One teacher may decide yes, the other no. It might be argued that the best person to judge whether they have mastered a skill or a concept is the pupil; further argued by the fact that they are the main beneficiary behind the judgement too.

This is the main premise of the Swedish model of assessment or more accurately the Swedish model of teaching. The completion of the assessment document should be the responsibility of the student not the teacher.

A currently trending term for teacher is facilitator. What is it that teachers now facilitate? Probably facilitate their class’s learning, or what is really meant is their progress as that is what is invariably judged and monitored nowadays.

If the teacher is facilitating learning, then the teacher’s focus should be on providing guidance. The Swedish model relies on the pupil owning and using the assessment portfolio. They decide what they can do or what they need to work on. They use the portfolio as a map to help them guide their own learning journey and they use the portfolio’s descriptors as mileposts towards mastering given concepts.

The teacher utilises time in getting to know them and build esteem. They spend more of their time talking with the pupils about how their individual learning journey is going, building that relationship. Getting to know them as learners based on the decisions that they make and outline.

The portfolio is a discussion aid. The pupil describes what they can do and what they need to work on next; establishing their own links between what it is that they currently know or can do and what that should then enable them to do next. The teacher listens, questions and advises to support and encourage them to pass their chosen milestone; supports. This is the process of independent, self-directed learning.

The #nubelymath project will use this approach in experimenting whether selected children can master concepts two years before they are expected to. In preparation for the project, a portfolio of skills and knowledge behind squared and cubed numbers has been created. The portfolio outlines the key skills and knowledge needed to work with this mathematical concept. It also offers suggestions of what the pupil could do if they want to pass the milestone they choose to navigate. This will allow the pupil to set up their own learning task or as a basis for a meaningful discussion between pupil and teacher about their learning.

The portfolio document can be seen and used by clicking the link below: