Retakes and Repentance
Usually when I write a blog post, I sit on it for a day or two and reread it a few times before hitting “publish” and unleashing my stream-of-consciousness onto the internet.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do that the other day with the post “Retakes as Mercy.”
I was feeling fired up and published that post without reflecting on my tone. And although I still stand by the heart of what I said, I want to apologize for some of the things the post may have implied about teachers who don’t necessarily agree with me. There are many wonderful teachers out there who do not agree with an “assessments only” or a “retake policy”, and they are wonderful, merciful, Christlike teachers.
Clearly, every year I am trying to grow as a teacher and I certainly am not perfect. Maybe some of the ideas I adhere to so passionately today I may have to revise in the future when I learn more.
First of all, I should have clarified that because I am only a high school English teacher, I do not know how an assessments-only policy and a retake policy would work in other subject areas or for other student age-levels. I can only speak from my own experience that it has worked well for my kids.
Second of all, there might be many other ways of showing mercy to students besides allowing retakes. Some teachers allow test corrections, for example, which I think is a great idea.
Third, a friend reminded me that repentance is an essential part of Church teaching on mercy. God always offers us His mercy, but we cannot receive it unless we repent. Repentance opens us up to mercy.
So, if you want your grading policy to reflect mercy, you also need to make sure it makes room for repentance. I try to do this in my own retake policy, but I can see how students might take advantages of the policy and not use it the right way.
I’m not trying to suggest that failing a quiz because you honestly did not understand the concept is a sin and therefore requires repentance–it’s not and it doesn’t.
But laziness is a sin. Assuming you’re all set without honestly preparing or quizzing yourself–that is, pride–is a sin. Making excuses or blaming others instead of taking responsibility for one’s own learning–vanity or dishonesty–those are sins. And they are all sins by which high school students are tempted and to which many of them succumb to from time to time.
Teachers sometimes succumb to them as well.
I firmly believe that grades should reflect learning. And I firmly believe that one’s grading policy should reflect mercy.
But your grading policy must also encourage repentance–the only way human beings can open themselves up to mercy.
It is important to remember that different teachers may have very different ways of encouraging both mercy and repentance.