Jeff is an English Language Arts teacher at Hillcrest High School in Riverside, California. Over his 14 years in teaching, he has taught at 3 high schools, chaired two departments, and served on several different committees. Recently, Jeff decided to use summative conferencing in his class and learned a lot about his students.

In this episode of TG2Cast Jeff and I discuss the impact of grades from the perspective of one of his students.

Topics include:

  • How students see themselves through the lens of grades.
  • How grades impact the student/teacher relationship.
  • How grades shape the identity of a student.
  • Why teachers need to take the time to talk to students in order to understand their perspective.

Resources:

2 Comments

  1. Here is my dilemma. I am the only teacher who went gradeless in my middle school last year. I sent out an explanation letter to parents, fellow staff, and administrators before beginning it but it was a hard paddle upstream, through rough rapids and I just couldn’t keep up the fight this year. I fully believe that conferences for final grades is best practice but I don’t have the support I need. How did you get it in your school?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dianne, I probably am not the best person to field this question, but in my experience I have asked permission to do really great stuff with my students and have been told various versions of “no” over the years. Here are some of the versions I have come across: “Not right now,” “Maybe,” “I need to wrap my head around it, but I’m so busy, and your idea isn’t a priority for me right now, so the answer is effectively ‘no’.” I finally hit a point in my career where I just believed in my own efficacy, and the ideas coupled with all my investigations had been brewing long enough, I just decided to go for it and see if I got any resistance. I have not faced any opposition other than one angry email from a parent (and I think that once that parent got that email off their chest, that was the end of it). I find my support in the TG2 community mostly, though I do have one other colleague joining me on this journey (and it does help that she’s with me and that we teach in the same department).

    I have not faced any questions about this practice (though my colleague has), and I have not had any resistance from the front office (I did have an administrator sit in on one of my grade conferences because she had a relationship with the student and was curious how they worked–I think that she was satisfied by what she experienced).

    All this being said, I do plan to draft up an explanation of what I am doing. I will make it clear that I am NOT asking permission, but rather I am EXPLAINING what I am doing, just in case a parent decides to communicate with the front office. In California, where I teach, I am fairly certain (will look this up in the near future) that I get to control how I mark students and my administration can’t force my hand. I may have to defend myself in court for my practice if a family wants to make an issue out of it, but I don’t think that school administrators here can tell teachers how to mark students.

    I don’t know if any of this is a help, but it all factors in to the decision I made to jump in.

    Like

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