Rick and Becky DuFour got the day started on Thursday. Having heard them speak before, there was not a whole lot of new information in their presentation.
They did share one of my favorite quotes about assessment however. I don't have the exact quote, but the idea is that summative assessment is an autopsy and formative assessment is a physical. Assessment is one of my "big idea" issues at the moment and this thought plays into the heart of my struggle. The system of schooling in our country is very focused on summative assessment (grades, standardized tests, etc), while many teachers recognize the importance and value of formative assessment. Assessing students is only useful if we are going to do something with that information. Most summative assessment is an end, not a means.
The one thing the DuFours talk about frequently that strikes me everytime is the idea of planning to support those students who are not immediately successful. I find this to be one of the most challenging tasks I face as a teacher. After lessons, units, assessments, etc. what do I do to help those students who didn't yet get it? In some ways, it feels as if I need to be planning for my own failure as a teacher - which is a little painful. However, I recognize the developmental differences in children and know that they will not all get everything at the same time. Planning for that is vitally important and an exhausting proposition, all at the same time.