Fulfilling the promise

I wrote a blog post earlier this year about my promise to start tough conversations in regard to grading reform. I am happy to say that I am working hard to fulfill that promise and help to move others forward. All the while I continue to learn myself about how to make grades a healthy part of the learning process. In my perfect world, grades would disappear, but I live in a reality where letters must be used as a reporting mechanism. As I write this post, I recommit myself to work toward this goal and not be afraid of the difficult dialogues that inevitably occur when approaching this very personal topic for educators.

I have moved into a leadership role of sorts in my new school district. I am an instructional coach who thankfully is not a part of the evaluation process. My district has moved to Standards Based Learning and Grading at the elementary level, and will change over at the middle schools (including mine) next school year. This is a huge transition, and I want to ease it as much as possible throughout the year. I have been welcomed so whole-heartedly into this learning community and am devoted to work with my new colleagues to improve instructional practice.

This week something occurred to me…my journey with healthy grading practices has become our journey. I am not alone in charting this course, yet I know I will carry a piece of the leadership for this initiative. I am so proud of the district and staff for deciding to embark on this voyage, and feel ready to serve in whatever capacity necessary. I have so much respect and admiration for my new colleagues, their commitment to student learning is visible in every nook and cranny of the school.

I bring my experiences, my knowledge, and my resources to share. There is so much power in the words, “I have been there.” I will be able to connect with their successes and failures along the way. I can talk them through problems and concerns. I am able to calm fears and reassure¬†everyone that this is a work in progress and it will change and improve with each year of implementation.

Our motto is “Engage, Inspire, Empower.” The transition to Standards Based Learning and Grading will no doubt challenge us to the core as educators. I find comfort in the fact that I have already seen the strength of the staff and I am confident they are prepared for this undertaking. Grading reform will allow our students to engage more completely, to become inspired to learn for a lifetime, and will empower them to take charge and own their learning. We will be able to communicate learning goals and determine paths to achieve mastery in a clear, concise manner. We will use feedback to let students know what we value most in the classroom. We will accurately report achievement, habits of work, and growth in a meaningful way.

To say I am excited to transform my journey into our journey is an understatement. When I made the promise to promote healthy grading in any way possible, I had no idea I would be given this opportunity in a new district. I have been given an avenue to fulfill my promise, and I will not take it for granted. Here’s to an awesome year of growth, reflection and tough conversations in the name of student learning.

I will continue to post and share about our growth, trials, tribulations, and success along the way!

3 Replies to “Fulfilling the promise”

  1. It’s so fabulous to hear that you’re in a place that understands the power of your humility and willingness to push boundaries on behalf of students. Certainly, their philosophy has been pushed by your work. A coaching position seems so ideal for you. Well done.

    This message is so big for everyone in schools. For me, the lack of urgency in the way class time is used is a tremendous, underlying source resistance against progress of any sort. I have to find a way to address this.

  2. I wish we had someone as brave and forward thinking as you in my district. I went out alone on the SBG/SBL limb 2 years ago, and was essentially bullied into pulling back. I’ve attempted to keep as much of the spirit alive as far as no zeros, extra credit, or penalty for late work, and also I allow reassessments and resubmissions. But I am still in a totally 0-100 focused school, and 1-4 achievement levels were just too different.

    Until the leaders lead in this regard, I’m keeping my head down and out of the spotlight.

  3. Garnet, this is a great post and I know how passionate you are about this journey. Your new district is so lucky to have you. I know your journey is going to inspire a lot of people. Thanks for sharing.

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