I remember a while ago, post turkey break, we all talked about the struggle of how we wanted to be teachers who didn’t make it all about the grades while still preparing students for the world of college where it is, actually, all about the grades.
Have no fear! I have the perfect solution.
My brilliant 350 teacher had a lecture (cough cough RANT cough) about grades today. The question she posed was this:
“If the goal is for students to understand the content and skills, make progress, and meet standards then is it necessary for students to have opportunities to make up work and show progress?”
She then launched into a great discussion of how she views grades. The reason she gives grades is because it shows if a student masters a skill. She says she could give a crap about if they got an A on the first try, she only cares if they understand a skill. For her, to give an F is being a neglectful teacher. You are letting a student show you that they have no idea what is going on, and letting them walk away with that. She always gives the option for a student to do redo work, and gives them a chance to show them that they have mastered the skill. They have to show her what they did wrong, and she will give them a new grade.
She has them show if they understand the skill, and if they don’t, she presents it in more and more formats until they finally do. Her argument is that if all a grade does is show that they know a skill, why not give them a better grade when they learn and prove her right?
My stance was, at first, iffy. I think redo work is valuable but also am very hesitant about giving kids full credit. As a person who ALWAYS self motivated and turned in work on time (at least when I was little ) I didn’t think it was fair when kids who slacked off in class and never turned in anything got grades in the same range as me. I think mastering the work is important, I think kids should be required to replace any zereos, but I don’t think it should be awarded as many points as the kids who actually listened to you and met the deadline.
However, I think the idea of always allowing kids to do redo work solves the “Teaching but not having it be about the grades” aspect. The grades are merely a byproduct of what is important; that you stick with a kid until they master a skill. Because isn’t that what matters most in the end?