Saturday, June 22, 2013

Grades: What Really Matters?

Shortly before I found out my "teacher-grade" for this school year, I read this post thanks to my daily PD alerts on Twitter.   I thought about how I too had encouraged reading, invested in princess books, Lego readers, and graphic novels to encourage reading.  I smiled as I thought about the "absolved" lost book debts and the smiles of young writers clutching their writing notebooks on the last day.  I was lost in my thoughts as I showered  and dressed.
Shortly before I found out my "teacher-grade" I drove down the eerily quiet highway reflecting on the fact that sometimes, as teachers, we witness dramatic growth in a struggling learner over what appears to be a short period of time; yet in reality, the seeds and foundation for that student's growth are deep and required lots of nurturing and firming,
Shortly before I found out my "teacher-grade" for this school year, I was thinking about my quiet and my boisterous students, some headed off towards life without a literacy support teacher breathing down their backs.  Some would be headed to new building.  Reluctant readers, all; yet, recently many were carrying around books and was were close to finding that magic.  Would it continue through the summer?  Would next year's teachers look beyond levels, and limited fluency to see the sprouts of learning?
Shortly after I found out my "grade" for this school year, I was reflecting on our reporting and grading systems in a new "light."  Every word matters when it is about YOU and hearing you are "good" or "effective" just doesn't give you the excitement of hearing about your strengths and strong successes.   It's probably is good for all of us to sit on the other side of the desk and remember that our words and our actions, all of them, matter and make a difference. 
Shortly after I found out my "grade" for this school year, I was thinking about Kate's words and the faith it takes to to be "highly effective" when the scores don't always reflect the teaching and learning that has occurred.  Real teaching and learning, as Kate notes, is a leap of faith on both sides of the desk. 
For teachers, whether they be Highly Effective, Effective, or even still Developing, I hope that your teacher-grading system provides you an opportunity to sit stop and remember that IF you do the BEST you can EVERY single day for EVERY single student, you WILL plant good seeds and make a difference in the lives of your students.  While grades (for students and teachers alike) count, what we say and do every moment of every day is how we make a difference.  Making a difference is what matters.   

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