Why I’m Changing My Mind About Grades – Part IV
So, 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.
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…