It’s finally Friday and time to sit down and breathe for a few minutes as I join my Five Minute Friday writing group on this week’s prompt: Represent.
One of my greatest joys as an educator is watching my students grow. Already this school year I’ve witnessed students gain knowledge and new ideas. The student who came in on day one and refused to do anything is now actively participating in class. Laughter and learning fill my classroom as ninth graders enjoy the environment we’ve created over the last month.
A major shift that I have made this year is reframing what a grade represents in my class. Gone are the days where teachers could get away with giving grades based on behaviors. Turning work in on-time is a life skill, but if the work is late (and correctly done) what should the grade measure?
I’ve wrestled and fought to get myself out of the mentality that grades represent the overall efforts in the classroom. I set absolute deadlines at the end of every unit, but there are no penalties until that point on a student’s grade. There are other punitive measures, of course. But the biggest shift in my mind has been that grades should represent learning not behaviors. Turning work in late is a behavior and falls under those consequences in my classroom.
What are the results?
A month into this school year where my focus has been standards-based grading, I have made more positive connections with students than in any year prior. The pressure to perform a certain way is lifted from their chest, and the freedom to learn in an authentic way has replaced that. Students have multiple opportunities to show mastery of content and growth, and the are less failures in my class than ever before. In fact, I don’t believe anyone is failing–because their grades represent learning not behaviors.
The Ameri Brit Mom