Category Archives: grades
My co-teacher and I had our electronic grade book open as the students lined up to be escorted to the bus. B-Girl rushed over to our desk and asked eagerly, “What do I have in math?”
“You?” I said, feigning disappointment. “About a 20 percent.”
“How do you know?” I said.
“Because,” B-Girl replied, “I believe in myself and I can’t get anything less than an 80 percent.”
“Well, you have a 93,” I conceded. (It’s the highest math grade in the class at the moment.)
B-Girl exudes self-confidence. She doesn’t get everything right, but she tries—hard—and when she makes a mistake, she tries to figures out what went wrong and attempts to fix it. She’s not afraid to ask questions when she doesn’t understand, and she is rarely off task.
I wish all of our students were like B-Girl.
Instead, we have A-Boy, who falls asleep in class—every day. Today was his last chance to stay awake in summer school, and he blew it. The director sent A-Boy home with a note to his parents, saying that he need not return tomorrow and that he will be retained in sixth grade next year.
We have K-Boy, who catches on to new concepts right away, but prefers not to participate in the guided practice portion of the lesson. Alas, when it comes time for independent practice, K-Boy is woefully unprepared and has to ask for help again and again.
And we have C-Boy, who usually neglects to bring his Accelerated Reading book to school, and, as a consequence, must sit out the entire SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) period staring into space or dozing.
What does it take, I wonder, to turn students who are indifferent to learning into students who hunger for knowledge so fiercely that they will not tolerate any impediment to their progress?
I am sitting at my desk with my online grade book open. D-Boy walks behind me and peers at the monitor.
“Hey!” he yelps. “Why did you give me a C?”
“I didn’t give you anything,” I reply.
“Yeah, you did,” he says. “You’re the one with the keyboard.” (Irrefutable logic, right?)
I laugh and say, “What goes in the grade book is what you earn. If you do C work, you get a C. If you do A work, you get an A. If you don’t do any work at all, then your grade goes in the toilet.”
And somewhere in my brain the refrain of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” starts playing:
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?