Why I’m Changing My Mind About Grades – Part IV

20140331-203836So, I have not written in a long time.

The biggest reason?

I’ve been grading a lot more than usual.

Yes. Unfortunately, the verdict about my new grading policy is that it definitely creates more work for me. And, hopefully, more productive work for my kids. But it has been a lot and I am feeling a little overwhelmed. Still, I think the extra effort on my part has been worth it — I just need to find a way to make this system more sustainable in the long run.

For instance, because my school has a stacked schedule  (the same seven 50 minute periods every day), the only time kids can meet with me for help or to retake something is before school, during lunch, or after school. So I don’t really get any kind of break from them during the day now, which is okay, but kind of hard for an introvert like me. I always have someone signed up (usually four or five kids) during lunch time and a bunch of kids after school. (Fewer of them seem to want to get up earlier and meet with me in the mornings, so that’s good).

Next year if I continue to teach sophomores, it may be easier because I will already have created multiple versions of the same assessments. Right now, though, if I make a test and offer a retake on it, then I have to create at LEAST one more test and usually more versions to help prevent cheating.

However, all of this work is just part of the job. I think that’s the thing I really need to accept. I love teaching, but part of teaching involves devoting a lot of time to grading. That’s true of most jobs — in order to do what you love, you have to sacrifice a lot of time.

Here’s a summary of the results of this new policy for my kids:

For my strong students: The grading policy makes a small difference for them, but not a big one. Many of them learn the stuff the first time around and do not need to do retakes. A few of them have retaken their Poetry Essays and benefited from meeting with me about them.Peanuts_-_school_advice

For my struggling students: The grading policy has made a HUGE difference for the kids who just don’t get it the first time but want to improve and get better. It’s really helped some of my kids get motivated and not give up on themselves. It’s for these kids that the retake policy really matters, and seeing them improve has made me a big believer in it.

But then there are a few struggling students who do not benefit at all from the retake policy because… well… they never retake anything. It’s too much work to meet with me and get extra help and then write a letter explaining their mistakes. Or perhaps they have already given up on themselves. Or maybe…

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Part I

Part II

Part III

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4 Comments

Filed under Education, Teaching

4 responses to “Why I’m Changing My Mind About Grades – Part IV

  1. Douglas Johnson

    That Charlie Brown cartoon more or less encapsulates the whole of The Education of Henry Adams.

  2. Dear Maura,
    I am enjoying your blog. I found your blog because I am a Flannery O’Connor fan and your title came up when I was looking up her book Mystery and Manners. My first reaction to what you were writing was “I hope she is close enough to our area to recruit her to work at our school!” We are a Charlotte Mason Education collaborative. 30 moms, home schooling individually, and cooperatively at the same time. Are you familiar with Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy of Education? Are you familiar with Edith Stein’s book “Woman,” which addresses the education of girls particularly?

  3. Would like to say thank you so much for acknowledging the individual needs of the students! It’s so refreshing to see a teacher who recognizes that we are all unique in the way we learn and giving the opportunity to students to retake and improve their understanding of something that they just need a little extra time with instead of the well so sad but we are moving on mentality. I hope that those who take you up on your retake policy take away from it that in life there are many times we might have to do something again in order to be successful but is always worth it.

  4. Pingback: End of the Year List | Mysteries and Manners

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