Grace in Grading

This school year has hit us all in a different way than we could have ever predicted. Lives have been lost, jobs have been lost, households have changed. Each one of these aforementioned changes, is considered to be a “big life event“. When experiencing them all at once, they take a toll on our ability to meet goals.

I still remember one time in grad school when I was knee-deep in my first year of teaching. My grad school program was completely online and I had a paper that was due. The day that it was due, I had a little accident where the meaty thumb part of my right hand and part of my wrist got stuck in an elevator door, and I had to go to the emergency room in an ambulance. The paper was due in 8 hours, and given everything that had occurred, there was no way that I would be able to turn that paper in on time. So, I asked my professor for a reprieve…and she gave me an additional week to turn in the assignment.

We don’t know exactly what the daily lives of our students look like, and so giving a little grace in grading could be as simple as giving a little extra time to turn in an assignment.

1. Allow more time to complete assignments

  • This could be giving 48 hours instead of 48 minutes. Or it could be giving one whole week, instead of one whole day.
  • This is also where differentiation comes into play, as we have learned through our teacher preparation programs that no two individuals learn in the same exact way.

2. Grade the “work”, not the “when”

  • Grading based on work completed, instead of on when completed allows us to assess students’ understanding of the content.
  • The “when completed” should only be brought into the equation if the student is privy to a “time management” criteria on a scoring rubric.

3. Have empathy

  • Sympathy is “Aw, I feel bad for you.
  • Empathy is “I can imagine how you must feel.”
  • As adults, we know what it’s like to be late or miss a deadline. This overdue assignment may feel like the end of the world for our students, or at a minimum, the difference between an A and an A+.

“Empower students to ask for what they need in order to earn the grade that they desire. This could be assistance with the content, or a reprieve from the deadline – giving students these tools to speak up for themselves helps in building their voice.”

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