How do I know that they are learning things well enough? How do I know that they are learning the skills required to answer an exam question? How do the parents know that their child is learning?
A key thing I do to walk this exciting tightrope is to make sure that I do not just sit at my desk during lessons. I move around and check in with the groups in my classroom. Check in, not check up on. How can I help? Is there anything you need explained? Are you on track for timing? Are there any resources you need tomorrow? It can be tough to identify students who struggle unless they are honest and proactive, but it makes me feel useful, if nothing else. It also makes the students aware that I am not being lazy, I am trusting them and there if they need me. This also allows students to work at their own pace, knowing i am there to help when needed, but will also leave them alone if they are doing just fine without me.
I use weekly online assignments, based upon NCEA questions, to check the level of understanding of my students. This is the part of my balancing act that stops me feeling insecure and helps me identify students who are bluffing in class or struggling with the work. Without these assignments, I would struggle to "sell" what we are doing in class to the students, to my colleagues, or to parents. Already, these regular assignments have helped me identify students who need support and I have made time to mentor them in class more than the students who are already coping well.