Will This Be On My Report Card?
“Will This Be On My Report Card?”
During one of my University courses, we began to talk about this new ‘trend’ of students, at young ages, worrying about test scores, marks on a report card, and grades. Of course, hearing the words “I need an A on this test” is not uncommon from a University student. However, it feels unnatural coming from a third grade student. When did we stop making school enjoyable, and start making it all about grades?
I’d like to say that I understand grades have a level of importance in school. Yes, I understand that almost all people need a percentage or a letter grade to move them forward and let them know how they are doing at a given moment. Although… does a letter grade really let you know how you’re doing in a class?
I present to you the ‘Importance of Feedback’.
There are a couple of points I need to cover in this blog, but let’s start with the feedback portion. Also, I understand that many educators and teachers will have different opinions than mine, and I encourage everyone to voice theirs in the comment section.
A grade two student shouldn’t be racking their brain around a letter grade that ‘wasn’t good enough’. Instead, we need to be telling our students what they did well, what they need to work on, and how we can help them move forward. If a student sees they received a 92% on a test, no matter how feedback filled it may be, they won’t bother to look at it. The same goes for a student who gets a 72%; even if you spent countless hours writing your most perfected feedback, there’s a good chance it will not be looked at. This student will see a 72% and immediately think, “I need to study everything more”. What they didn’t see was the only portion they needed to work on was the third criteria- not the first or second. What have we been doing that our students are so grade-focused? How can we change this?
I definitely don’t have the answer to the latter, but from tutoring and practicum experience, I’ve tried to incorporate the growth mindset into the students I’ve worked with. I am not opposed to keeping those grades that need to be on report cards away from students and instead, give them feedback. Instill that the words on the paper are even more important than having a level 3 written at the top of the page. Feedback allows for us to know what we do well, and how we can improve the things we still need to work on. Feedback allows for us to move forward and grow, because we understand just how to do that. A grade of 82% doesn’t tell me what I did well, and where I lost marks. It tells me ‘I did pretty good but I should aim for a 90 next time’. Except, how do I do this?
“Miss Karaline, I need to practice writing more. I’m bad at it”.
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, because Miss Karaline, I got a 62% in spelling, so that means I’m a bad writer”.
Why do children feel that proper spelling and grammar are the only things that will make them good writers? Why do students feel that fast mental math will make them good mathematicians? My second thought of this blog is; why do students base an entire subject on 1 or 2 abilities? Math is not only about speed and quick addition; it’s about problem solving. We can use skills from math, and apply it to real life situations. Baking a cake? That’s math. Grocery shopping? That’s math. Students don’t realize this- they see math as scary and full of angry, mean numbers.
Let’s go back to spelling now. Why do students feel proper spelling equates to being a good writer? Being someone who has a passion for writing, spelling isn’t always the top priority. It’s about seeing a strange looking plant and creating a story about how it’s actually a magicc plant that has ben alive for centories. It was planted by an anchient tribe of peeple years ago, and the only way for it to relese its power is if it’s in the hands of the chozen one. So I had a few spelling mistakes, but didn’t you like the story? Point made.
All of this relates back to something of a bigger issue. There has been an increase of anxiety is our primary/junior students. Mental health is at the top of my priority list, and I believe as educators and teachers, we need to work on this. The Atlantic states that “an article in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Play details not only how much children's play time has declined, but how this lack of play affects emotional development, leading to the rise of anxiety, depression, and problems of attention and self control.” Yes, they are talking about free-play, but there are other ways to view this as well. In the classroom, let’s place importance on building a community with our students; get rid of any hostility they have towards on another. Build a community that doesn’t run on competition, but focuses on how cooperative learning can improve your personal learning. Build a classroom community that runs of kindness, respect, growth mindset, motivation and inspiration. The least we could do for our students is create a classroom and a school that they look forward to being at every day.
I encourage all educators and teachers to think about all of the points made here today. I am not here to judge you based on your teaching choices; we all have different learning styles, which is what makes this profession so amazing. With all our different techniques, we have the opportunity to learn from one another. However, I encourage you to think about feedback and classroom community, and the positive effects it can have with your students.
I also encourage you to please leave your feedback in the comment section below.