I'm participating in Paul Cancellieri's Assessment digital conversation and wanted to take a minute and explain why I'm spending some of my time this week participating in it with the idea that you might decide to as well.

First, thinking and talking about assessment literally changed my philosophy of education.  One of my favorite education quotes comes from a book by Lorna Earl
"...changing classroom assessment is the beginning of a revolution - a revolution in classroom practices of all kinds...Getting classroom assessment right is not a simplistic, either-or situation. It is a complex mix of challenging personal beliefs, rethinking instruction and learning new ways to assess for different purposes." (Earl, 2003, pp. 15-16)
Talking about assessment led me to re-thinking how I interacted with students as they walked in the door.  Talking about assessment led me to improve the way I communicated with parents.   Talking about assessment led me to a really memorable and fun semester mentoring a student teacher from the local college.

Second, I'm a big fan of asynchronous discussions.  My first graduate program was a hybrid format.  I went to traditional class a few Saturdays per semester, but the rest of it was online.  I loved reading the discussion threads at lunch, thinking about them all day and then coming home to log on and post my responses.  I appreciate time to think before sharing my thoughts, so a Voicethread conversation that allows me to record or type a response anytime of the day presents a enjoyable and unique opportunity to learn for me personally.  

Third, in my my role as a second year district administrator, I'm constantly looking for ways to learn from folks in other systems.  I try to interact regularly via Twitter; attend local and regional conferences; and have been through one graduate program, almost two now.  There's still something special though about spending a few days with some really dedicated educators in an environment focused on a topic we're all passionate about, assessment.  Call this an assessment nerd fest if it makes you feel better - I don't mind and I hope you won't either! 

Finally, I need to add a disclaimer that I am being compensated in a very small way to be a part of the conversation, but I would still be participating for free. Assessment is THAT important in education. I'm looking forward to helping the teachers in my district improve their assessment practices. Any single educator moving forward alone will only be as successful as his/her time and efforts permit.  The mantra we sometimes use is "Together, we're better" and that includes the district guy (me) sharpening his tool chest early and often for the benefit of those who were not able to join in. 

I hope to "see" you online between now and October 8th!