Coherency Within Practice
Coherency is about alignment, or fit. It is intact when our teaching,
assessment and reporting practices are clearly aligned with our educational priorities. To forfeit coherency within our practice is truly a colossal loss of teaching and learning potential.
Coherency is a critical prerequisite for the effective implementation of the SLT Framework. Coherency within practice occurs when there is a crystal clear connection between what we identify as important and our teaching, assessment, and reporting practices. The notion of coherency came to me in my early research on student assessment within whole language contexts. I was struck by a phrase aptly expressed by Grant Wiggins, an assessment learner in the US. He wrote: “assess what you value, value what you assess’, BC Teacher, 1991. I couldn’t get this phrase out of my mind and kept considering and reconsidering it within the context of my own practice. What do I value? Is this evident to my learners? Am I actually assessing things that I don’t value? For example, if creativity and compassion are important, then why do I have a report card template to fill out that does not reflect these important traits? What do my students think is important as indicated by what I report on, being that reporting is such a powerful purveyor of ‘what is valued’? Once I started to recognize the lack of fit between what would lead to success for my students and my teaching, assessment and reporting practices, I started to do some very deep reprogramming of how I was taught to teach, how I was taught and how I needed to change my practice in order to enable deep lasting learning for my students. The phrase ‘assess what you value, value what you assess’ almost became a mantra for me, especially in early efforts to implement the Successful Learner Trait Framework. If teachers had identified those specific traits that they felt led to student success, and these same traits are actually aligned with the educational statements of mission, (in British Columbia’s case, The Educated Citizen, see diagram A), then clearly, what was important in education had been identified. Now the effort was to ensure a process where what-is-valued was clearly reflected in all levels of practice: in our teaching, our assessment and our reporting practices! It is through this process that we ensure coherency within practice that our students learn to effectively apply themselves and become leaders of their own learning.