“I believe in kids and that they are all capable of learning; some kids take longer than others, some have different approaches than others, some have different strengths than others, and all have different discoveries within their own education. It felt wrong to me to put them all in one box and tell them that was how it was. Period.”
In January of 2016, yes, only just over a year and a half ago, I started my journey as a teacher. I had finished my student teaching about a month earlier and was going to be a brand new teacher, in the middle of the year, at Connell High School. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I had one weekend to get my classroom together and start teaching the upcoming week as it was their transition time between semesters. I felt rushed and really hadn’t had much time to process as I was also moving into a new apartment in Connell and leaving the familiar behind. Which in the long run, may have been a blessing.
In the weeks prior to starting, I had received a packet from Connell High School that went over their school grading policies. Having just finished my student teaching in Monte Syrie’s classroom, I was completely confused when going over Connell’s grading policies, they didn’t seem completely fair to me or fit my style. When I texted Syrie about my dilemma, he explained to me that as a first year teacher, at a place that I’m not established at yet, I’ve just got to “play the grading game,” and make small changes where I can that wouldn’t get me in trouble. So I poured over the grading policies that Connell gave me and tried to make small changes where I could that made me feel a little more comfortable when I was putting student grades into the gradebook.
Comfortable. What a weird thing to think about when grading kids. Why was slapping a grade onto a kid’s paper uncomfortable to me? Thinking back to that not very far away time, I feel that I have found why trying to find one way to grade ALL kids was uncomfortable to me. I became a teacher for a reason. I believe in kids and that they are all capable of learning; some kids take longer than others, some have different approaches than others, some have different strengths than others, and all have different discoveries within their own education. It felt wrong to me to put them all in one box and tell them that was how it was. Period.
As fate would have it, a position opened up in the LA department at Cheney High school later that semester. I immediately put my application in and got my ducks in a row and things fell into place as I later got a call for an interview and got offered the job the day of my interview. I took my first full year of teaching at Cheney High School talking to Syrie and observing his journey through P-180. I loved what I saw and as we started talking about changes he was making for the upcoming year, I knew I wanted to jump on board. I knew that I would stop feeling uncomfortable about grading student work. I knew that this was going to be an exciting adventure for kids.
As the doors open this week for students to be back at school, I’m excited to embark on this journey with my students and learn right alongside them.