New Approach…

I’ve had a real change of heart about the way I approach teachers who want to continue punitive grading practices.

In the past, I’ve been frustrated because said teachers will agree with me about the primary purpose of grading, i.e., report academic progress to parents and the student, and then further agree that the grading and reporting needs to be accurate, valid, and reliable.

The frustration comes when they say, “BUT…”

BUT (these teachers say) we have to teach them the ways of the real world…responsibility and accountability to your bosses, yada, yada, yada.”

So, I’ve decided not to disagree. I will cave in and say, “You are absolutely right! One of the latent functions of public education is to teach students to be responsible and accountable…”

“…BUT-T-T-T-T, ”

“…let’s grade and report so the child’s record of achievement is not distorted, and find ANOTHER way of dealing with the student behaviors that you don’t like. That fair, isn’t it?”

I need to get those illogical and useless “buts” working for me! 😀


4 thoughts on “New Approach…

  1. I think there are many people out there, yes teachers too, that are obsessed with punishment. And what is disciplinary, penalizing, or punitive grading but a power trip to punish a student for not performing the way a teacher wants?

    This may be a crass way of stating this, but (there’s that “but”) I can recall a moment when I was in third grade in about 1953 when I was what amounts to belittled because I was not as smart as or learning like the other students. What if that teacher had taken another tack and spent special time with me to lift me up.

    As we grow up, next to our parents our teachers are probably the most influential people in our lives. Only their best will do.

    “Only their best will do.”

    I agree.

    Teachers function in alter parentis, and what caring and functional parent doesn’t want to do their best for their child?

    Let me raise the ante a bit by stating that I believe that teachers who engage in punitive grading have consciously or unconsciously ceased, or have given up on, developing their instructional skills.

    Mutual respect between student and teacher is the key to scholastic engagement. Teacher-generated fear doesn’t produce results according to assessment research (Guskey), and in fact, gets in the way of student achievement.

    Wish I coulda met your third grade teacher, Tom. We would have had an interesting chat. 😉 –Hugh

  2. Not that you haven’t mentioned these before, but would you like to follow this up with alternative methods of giving students the sense of urgency that penalizing kids usually does? That might help newer teachers see where you’re comin’ from.

    Thanks for the reminder, Jose. I’ll follow that up in my next post (on grading). –Hugh

  3. This post truly helped bring some older thoughts to the forefront. I’m on maternity leave and I’m grading a few papers from home. Whoa is the probably the only positive thing I can say. I am an advocate for you earn your grade, but it pulls on my heart strings to give these kids 0’s, and lots of them. Send some advice…. PLEASE!

    …PROCESSING… 😉 –Hugh

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