October 27, 2022

Dear Harbor Families,

Assessment. The word might draw to mind images of scantron tests, pop quizzes, and long essays in those little booklets (remember those?). In fact - and especially in the early childhood years - it is so much more. Assessment simply means understanding where each child is in their learning in order to determine next steps in teaching. In other words, assessment drives instruction.

To be effective, assessment of students must be ongoing and conducted in a variety of ways. Throughout the day, teachers may take anecdotal notes on a child’s oral reading, spot check a math warm-up exercise, observe interactions during free play, work with a student on a set of writing criteria (did you remember a period at the end of your sentence?), closely observe a building project during centers time, or provide feedback via a rubric on a group project - to name a few methods.

Taking this ongoing assessment information, and translating it into targeted teaching goals and lessons, sometimes in an instant, is in my opinion the essence of excellent teaching. Differentiation (or meeting each child’s specific needs) is an art and a science, and actually, is impossible to ever fully realize in any given moment. Think about all the ways that children are growing and changing every minute - fine and gross motor skills, interpersonal skills, academic knowledge, literacy and mathematical skills, and more. Teachers are assessing throughout the day in all of these domains in order to best plan the next lesson, or grab a “teachable moment”, for the individual student and the group. It’s an incredibly challenging task, and in my view, is what makes our profession a true and noble profession.

This summer, a group of teachers came together to work on an assessment guide, to make clear our philosophy and approach to assessment. We discussed how we assess, what we assess, and why we assess, and spent time discussing the role of formal and informal assessments as well as our methods of reporting student progress. Tomorrow, among other topics, our faculty will be exploring the role of assessment together, as ensuring a varied and diverse set of assessments is integral to meeting each child’s needs - to drive instruction.

Throughout the professional development day tomorrow, we’ll also be discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion issues as a faculty by reviewing and discussing children’s books with messaging that is inconsistent with our DEI philosophy, brushing up on our 3D printer skills (did you know we have a 3D printer?), and working with our Learning Specialist on learning strategies for the classroom. A full day indeed! 

Thank you for the time tomorrow to continue to hone our craft. I promise you that it will be worth it for your kids!


Leah Musico

Head of School

Harbor School