Monday, November 12, 2012

Grades Aren't Given—They're Earned

"Ugh, Mr. Peabody gave me a D-plus."

"Miss Lewis, you should just give me an A."

These are among the more annoying statements I hear in my classroom, and it's a particular word that sets me off.


A lot of students have this attitude of teachers giving grades. One student said a teacher ruined their sibling's high school graduation because of the bad grade a teacher gave that sibling in ninth grade. (It meant not qualifying to wear the fancy gold cord with the graduation regalia.)

What? Really?

Okay, I'm sure there are teachers out there who are spiteful and mean and evil. I'm even more sure there are teachers who are really difficult to learn from.

But by and large (and certainly in my case, I hope), teachers don't give grades. Students earn them. I just do the accounting, verifying what they've earned.

Part of me hates that I have to grade at all. I like looking over student work to see what they understand, but I hate assigning a numerical value to it, figuring out what all those numerical values together mean and assigning a letter to that.

The students who think I give grades are part of the reason we have to use them. They only care about that letter on the report card, and in their minds (much of the time), it's arbitrary. If I could rely on every student to learn for the sake of learning, and to commit to doing the work necessary, there'd be no need for grades.

In a perfect world ... maybe someday.

For now, I'll keep with the response I've been using.

"Miss Lewis, you should just give me an A."

"Okay, I will ... as soon as you earn it."


Richard said...

I say "Amen" to that.

Mike Lewis said...

Sounds like someone is dealing with too many "gimmes"...

Mike Lewis said...

Sounds like someone is dealing with too many "gimmes"...