Planning for Professional Learning about Assessment: AfL guides adult learning too!

The assessment process is an inherent part of the learning process, no matter who is doing the learning. This struck me again when I recently read “New Teacher Immersion”, an article in ASCD’s May 2018 issue of Educational Leadership. The focus of the article was the orientation program provided to novice teachers in a New Jersey School District. The foundational principle guiding this program is, “we treat our new teachers the way we would like them to treat our students” (p. 16).

This makes sense, especially when you think in terms of assessment for learning. New teachers, like anyone who is ‘new’ to anything, are first and foremost, learners. As such, they are no different than the students that they will teach. Authors Susan Totaro and Mark Wise describe a program that:

  • engages novice teachers in real world problem solving; (sounds like authentic tasks and inquiry based learning)
  • provides them with clear expectations for their performance; (could these be learning goals and success criteria?)
  • encourages them to make choices in their learning pathway; (creating a learning context where learners have autonomy, and are encouraged to self-monitor and set goals) and
  • emphasizes the importance of relationships in a community of learners. (just like in the classroom!)

Sound familiar? These are precisely the conditions that students in our classrooms need to be effective learners!

It just goes to show that the age or experience of the learner or the context of the learning situation may vary; however, the principles of assessment and instruction that support and enhance learning are the same, whether you are a child, teenager, young adult or novice teacher.

One last thought…and a call to action.

How does this concept apply to those of us who are experienced educators? We are always learning, so I would suggest that the assessment for learning process applies in our learning too. With the new school year barely a month away, which aspect of the assessment loop might you focus on? What are your learning goals? What might the success criteria be? How can you self assess your progress? Who is available to give you feedback?

In the next few posts, we will provide some resources to help you to plan a learning progression for your professional learning…stay tuned!

Totaro, S. and Wise, M. (2018). New Teacher Immersion. Bolstering the Teacher Pipeline. Educational Leadership. ASCD. Alexandria, VA.  75(8) p. 12 – 17.


  1. Thanks for the reminder that Assessment for Learning is a tool for all lifelong learners no matter what field you are in!


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