School of Thought

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Separating Student Behavior in Standards-Based Learning - From the Trenches Part 3

Are you ready to start making a change?  One of the easiest ways to reform grading practices is to remove the behaviors or process.  Encouraging positive behavior is a very important component of what we do as educators, but it has no place mingled in with proficiency or mastery of learning targets or standards.  When we muddy the grading waters with behaviors, we render the grade meaningless.  Our goal should be to accurately and clearly report the proficiency level of our students regarding standards at that moment on a report card, along with a separate process report explaining classroom behaviors.

Once you remove the behaviors and compliance from the grade, what is there to do in order to teach important life skills like responsibility, caring, and respect? Helping students become good citizens is high on my priority list.  We work together to develop good study habits and collaborative skills.  We discuss work ethic, timeliness, goal setting, and meeting expectations; these items are simply not included in their academic grade.  Forming relationships with kids and creating class culture will contribute much more to positive behavior than a punitive grading system.  When kids are acting irresponsibly or inappropriately, it is time to step in and guide them, not give a participation grade.  We must assist our students to become the adults we know they can be.  We must model the behaviors we want to see, demand the same behaviors from our students, and lead them to make good decisions.  Our students bring us their best each day; we have to meet them where they are to move forward.

We work to facilitate learners, not to build compliant robots.  The professions and jobs that our students will fulfill do not require factory model learners.  They will need innovative creators who will move this world forward into the next era.  If our students are encouraged to be compliant, maintain the status quo, and keep learning safe, how will we progress?  We must demand more, drive learning, and challenge our thinking.  As lead learners, we must continually grow ourselves and model the behaviors we want to see in our students.  Model learning.  Take risks.  Demonstrate timeliness.  Demand critical thinking and problem solving.  And above all, form relationships.  Show students that you care about their growth and development.

Many times, our world seems to lack caring, thoughtful relationships, and promotes irresponsible, disrespectful behavior.  I would like to model something different for our next generation.  Behaviors are always their choice, and these choices impact their future.  Grading has no place in these discussions and lessons.  Life is not something that is done to you. Make sure your impact is a positive one.

Read Garnet Hillman's full series From the Trenches:

  1. A Teacher's Journey of Positive Deviance
  2. Culture Shock Ahead for Standards Based Education
  3. Separating Student Behavior in Standards Based Learning
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