23 January 2016

GRADING, quarter 2.


It turns out that grades DO mean something...not what we originally thought, that we now understood a student's command of the materials, his/her critical thinking skills, creativity, whatever. No, grades can make or break a student's self image, to the point where the anticipation of a particular grade is a self fulfilling prophecy by the student or the teacher.

This is not good. I am teaching a strangely divided schedule this year. All AP on A day, all CP on B day. Good for planning and pacing, but even better for getting the view from both ends of the spectrum. Some of my B day students have given up on grades and school, anticipating, as they have been taught, that their grade will be subpar. Given up! At the age of 15 or 16, how can we let that be? They are precious, wise, making their own way on the world. I learn from them every day.

Many of my A day students display a confidence that belies their preparation or responsibility. They advocate for themselves, as school teaches them, but they do not always recognize their lack of power in a situation where they are unschooled--such as an AP, college level class. They expect As, which they equate with being smart, successful, winners, elite etc. I am not sure that most of them are making their way in the world yet, as my B day students are. I remember reveling in my own ability to do anything as a child-I was a read/write learner in a read/write world in the mid 20th century. Of course I did well. But I also lived in a family where my parents expected all of us, regardless of potential, to do our best. And they also demanded that we understand our place in the world--if given a big brain, you appreciated the gift and used it. It did not make you better than someone else. Others had gifts you might not see.

I want all of my students to see their own gifts.

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