We are always for the best ways we can serve our kids. This week we had our first Parent/Teacher conference night of the year and it generated a lot of conversation about best practices, particularly teaching and grading policies. These conversations came from a variety of sources and were generated by both sides, educators and parents.
The need for an effective grading policy is critical. Developing a system that is objective, fair and reflects mastery learning takes time and collaboration. We are planning for some upcoming talks about what grading should entail here at West Middle.
Our discussions reminded me of a conversation I had months ago with a teacher who had a pretty rigid, inflexible grading policy. It was pretty cut and dry and reflected meeting deadlines and accuracy on assignments. As educators, we have to have a greater scope and understanding. We got into education because we want to make a difference in students' lives - learning, social and emotional. I think we often overlook this piece when there is an assignment due or something is to be turned in. There is a tendency to fall back on how WE were graded or treated. It's along these lines that the teacher's sentiment of 'In the real world, if students miss a deadline they won't get a second chance' or 'There is no make up in the real world' came out. Needless to say, it generated a lot of discussion.
We have to remind our colleagues that for our K-12 students, we are their real world. Whatever common goals we set or agreements the school makes as far as grading policy is the real world for our students. Specific to this case, I reminded this teacher we are talking about 11 - 13 year olds. If anyone is deserving of another day to turn in an assignment, they are. If anyone is deserving of being given a 3rd or 4th chance at completing an assignment until we are sure they've mastered what we consider important, they are.
If the deadline is the most important thing, that should be communicated and upheld. If concept mastery is the most important thing, we should plan for that. This is part of the process and planning that has to be developed and constantly re-examined in our process.