A year ago, I began scheming and dreaming. I wanted to make a bold move against tradition and convention in our public schools. I wanted to challenge the status quo, especially in the area of grading. So, I devised a bold plan. I wanted to challenge the perception that kids won’t do, that kids can’t learn without grades. In earnest, I believed differently, so I decided to take grades off the table. And though I knew that I would have to push the pendulum past center, I never expected to shove it clean to the other end.
My initial plan did not include giving everyone an A. It was a late development stemming from my learning that my plan of giving everyone a “pass” may prove problematic for college entrance and scholarship opportunities, so I went with plan B. I decided to take grades completely off the table by awarding an A to each student so as to make the focus learning, not simply earning. But I also sought to call attention to my approach by making a radical move, a move that I was certain would warrant strong opposition from my peers, opposition that would hopefully lead to a deep dialogue around grading practices and policies. However, astonishingly, that opposition never manifested as I thought it might. Not even a little bit. And I’m not sure why. I have my guesses of course, but I’m not certain that airing them will matter now anyhow, so I will let them lie. It’s time to move forward. It’s time, as I planned all along, to let the pendulum swing back to center.
Next year’s plan for grading is currently under development. I have taken what I have learned thus far from the 146 days of 180 and begun to construct an approach that still bears the core principles of 180 but presents a far-less radical approach to rebuffing convention and tradition. Oh, there’s still plenty of “rebel” in it–I’m still me, but it is not so crazy as not to discourage others from joining the journey. In fact I am honored to announce that the other sophomore LA teachers Jenna Tamura and Maddie Alderete have already signed on to creating a unified approach to grading for all tenth-grade language arts courses, regular and honors. I am so excited to collaborate with these exceptional educators. They have been staunch 180 supporters from the beginning and now they are jumping on board. I will reveal the plan over the coming weeks. The swing back to center has begun. Excited. Truly.
Happy Tuesday, all.