The Teacher’s Skill Sheet

This will be my first September using the “skill-based” assessment and grading system.  So although I’ve used it for two semesters, I’ve never done the “sales pitch” to an incoming class.  For the last two weeks I’ve been in a fog, trying to figure out how to introduce so many (probably foreign) ideas at once, to a bunch of people I didn’t know and who have no particular reason to trust me (yet).  It seemed like every idea depended on every other idea, so nothing could go first.

Dan Goldner proposed an elegant solution: have them assess me.  It gives me a chance to show (not tell) what assessment and grading will look like.  At the same time, it exposes my philosophy about teaching and learning, introduces some of the concepts that will run through our semester (i.e. “make mistakes understandable”), and opens a conversation about what good teaching is.  I plan to scaffold it with a survey about their learning experiences and goals.

But for now, I’ve got a very rough draft of what a skill sheet would look like if it was for assessing me, not a student.  Think I’m way off base?  Wrong emphasis, missed something important, need to find more student-friendly language?  I hope you’ll let me know.


  1. I love the idea of having the students assess you (vs grading you), as you will do for them throughout the term. One of my former mentors talked about starting the first day of class with asking the students to list all the traits they wanted to see exhibited by the teacher throughout the semester: quick feedback, prepared, entertaining, focused, were some of the things that always surfaced. Then, she changed the heading to what she expected from her students but left all the same traits on the board. It always was an effective first day activity that started conversations about classroom and learning expectations. I think your assessment sheet will get at the same thing.

    On your actual sheet, however, I am not certain I would be able to complete the form. I love the headings in bold–they are the areas the students need to focus on, but will they know enough to know what the sub-points mean? Keep in mind I do not know your field at all! I also do not see a scale. Will they be simply checking off if an item is present, or were you going to provide a 1-5 Likert scale like your friend did in the example he is experimenting with?

    I hope these general comments help as you continue your prep for class. Your students are lucky to have you–and the conversation about learning that will happen the first day and throughout the semester will be terrific. Keep up all your work to improve and perfect the art and skill of teaching so students can master their own learning.

    • Patti — I’m encouraged by your questions, they are exactly the kind I hope students will ask. Subpoints (bulleted) are examples of what could exemplify the skill (bolded). Yes, it’s a binary scale (yes or no) so the empty boxes are for the date. Obviously that means that detailed feedback is imperative (for them as well as me… details are here). It would be helpful if I could chop the longer lists down, I think. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. […] The teacher’s skill sheet was a success (thanks, Dan).  Today was our third day with the first-year students, and my first time explaining skills-based-grading to an incoming class. Our reassessment period is Thursdays from 2:30 – 4:30, so in this morning’s shop class I dropped a skill sheet on their benches and we started using it.  By the time I started explaining how I grade this afternoon, they already had a skill signed off. […]

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